How much does a yacht captain earn?
Written by Nathan Bees
Last updated: 23/01/2020
It’s common knowledge within the yachting industry that yacht crew are well remunerated for their work. With no living expenses, no bills and no rent to cover, almost all of the money a crew member earns can go straight into their bank account – and it soon adds up.
But what about a yacht captain? How much money do they earn?
Captains harbour a great deal of responsibility; they are accountable for the smooth running of the entire on-board operation, as well as the welfare of their crew and all others present on the yacht. There’s a lot that could go wrong at any given time – and if it does, it’s on them.
With great responsibility comes great reward, however. Captains are essentially the CEOs of a company, and their salary reflects this.
What is a typical yacht captain salary?
There is no pre-set salary for captains, but those skippering luxury yachts and superyachts can easily command six-figure sums in the right circumstances.
Dependant on the length of the vessel and the individual’s experience and level of licensing, annual salaries can range anywhere from €66,000 to €240,000+ (c. £56,325 to £204,818) per year. This equates to €5,500 to €20,000+ (c. £4,692 to £17,062) per month.
Junior captains, working aboard 18-30-metre (60-100-foot) yachts, typically earn at the lower end of this pay scale, while senior captains, working on superyachts of 60m+ (197ft+), achieve the larger, six-figure salaries.
To that end, there is no cap on how much a yacht captain can earn. If they are respected, well liked and considered to be irreplaceable, the salary can soar above and beyond a quarter of a million annually.
Of course, like all crew, captains can receive tips from charter guests to further swell their income.
How much does a yacht captain earn in tips?
A yacht captain’s salary can be supplemented by any tips left by charter guests at the conclusion of their time on board. Substantial tips are common in the yachting industry, so this additional income is a regular occurrence, especially during peak season when there are back-to-back charters.
Tips are handled differently from yacht to yacht – each boat is effectively its own business – but charter guests are advised to hand any gratuities to the captain so they can evenly distribute the total amongst the crew.
There is no set amount/limit for tips, but the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) has a policy guideline that states five to 15 per cent of the charter fee is sufficient. It’s uncommon for tips to exceed this range nowadays, but ultimately the individual charterer decides how much money they wish to give – and to whom they give it.
Taking this into account, a captain’s take-home pay is generally a lot larger than their contracted salary.
Interested in working your way up into a captain’s position? We outline everything you need to know to become superyacht qualified. For more information on yacht crew salaries generally, check out our handy guide which documents salaries by position on board.