How to get an STCW Basic Safety Certificate
Written by Nathan Bees
Last updated: 20/02/2020
If you intend to work as crew in the yachting industry, you’ll first need to complete your STCW Basic Safety training and be in receipt of the correct STCW certification before you begin your quest to land a yacht job.
Being armed with this will open up a range of career opportunities within the world of superyachts.
What is ‘STCW’ and do I need it?
The STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) is an internationally recognised certification standard required by all seafarers working on commercial vessels above 24 metres (79 feet) in length. This includes crew working on commercial ships, ferries, cruise ships and superyachts.
STCW certification is also recommended for those looking for work on private yachts, as owners, captains and/or management companies will rarely hire crew without it.
STCW Basic Safety Training encompasses five courses or modules designed to keep all crew safe on board. These arm you with an understanding of the basic safety and survival skills essential for anyone working at sea.
What’s the difference between the STCW 95 and STCW 2010?
Simply put, the STCW 2010 is the updated version of the STCW 95 and STCW 78 conventions.
They are known as such as these training requirements were first introduced in 1978 and updated in 1995. Further changes, known as ‘the Manila amendments to the STCW Convention and Code’ were adopted on 25th June 2010, marking a major revision, known as the STCW 2010.
Amongst other things, the changes that affected superyacht crew included expanding the training requirements to include vessel security. Crewmembers who do not have the additional security qualification must therefore take a course to maintain the validity of their previous training.
There are five courses or modules included in STCW Basic Safety training, which form the backbone of the certification. Each one tackles a specific area of marine safety and essential knowledge:
1. Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities (PSSR)
A half-day classroom-based course covering basic induction training in safety procedures and accident prevention, it also familiarises novices with the employment conditions and working environment on board.
2. Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting (FP&FF)
A two-and-a-half day course outlining precautions for minimising the risk of fire, the causes of fires and how to extinguish them. Also practical training using fire fighting equipment and breathing apparatus to extinguish various types and sizes of fires.
3. Personal Survival Techniques (PST)
A one-day course teaching the actions to be taken by individuals to protect themselves in emergency situations. It includes practical training using life jackets and inflatable life rafts.
4. Elementary First Aid (EFA)
A one-day practical course combining theory and practical training for basic first aid and life-saving skills.
5. Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA)
A half-day course providing knowledge, understanding and proficiency to personnel intending to work on ships who will not have any designated security duties. This certification is a recent requirement for yacht crew who previously had no security training.
These five modules form the STCW Basic Training modules, and are often offered to be taken together over the course of one week for a single fee, meaning someone looking to train will very rarely have to book and pay for individual modules separately; though this is possible and remains just as valid once all modules are complete.
Are there any pre-STCW requirements?
None at all, so you could begin the STCW training straight away should you want to. However, it might be beneficial to complete your ENG1 medical certificate first, as some of the training can be physically demanding and require a strong base level of fitness.
How much does the STCW cost?
STCW training costs vary from provider to provider, but a typical week-long STCW course covering all key modules costs around €900-€950 (c. £750-£800). There are however a whole host of other variables that can affect cost, such as whether accommodation is provided. If not, you can find accommodation options here.
How long does my STCW training last?
Under recent regulations, updated proficiency training has to be undertaken every five years. Seafarers revalidating their Certificate of Competency (CoC) after 1st January 2017 will be required to submit documentary evidence of having completed MCA-approved updated proficiency training within the last five years.
Where can I get my STCW training?
Most, if not all, marine and crew-training providers offer the courses required for STCW certification. You can get your STCW certification in any country (from an approved training provider) as it’s internationally recognised and standardised across the globe. You’ll commonly find certified training providers in key yachting hotspots around the world, but also plenty in other areas, as the course is taken by far more mariners than just yacht crew (in fact, yacht crew make up a relatively small percentage of people who take the course).
Looking for somewhere to take your STCW Basic Safety training? Search our STCW training providers.