How to Find Work on a Super Yacht
Working on a yacht is the ideal job for anyone that wants to make money in order to travel. Much will depend on the terms of employment dictated by your contract, but jobs generally work on a rotational basis, which means that you’ll work for a month or two straight and have the next month off. While on the yacht, you have the opportunity to save up gobs of cash since you have no daily expenditures and no daily-life financial commitments. Your months off can be spent traveling, exploring, relaxing, or continuing to hack your lifestyle. In this article, you’ll learn more about the lifestyle and work requirements of a job on a boat, and see whether it’s something that would be compatible with your needs.
The kind of job I’m referring to here is as a crew member of some sort of pleasure vessel, particularly a yacht, not as a crew member on a commercial fishing boat, super-tanker, or cargo ship. While these are certainly great job opportunities, they are less compatible with getting a job with the intention to freely travel, mostly because you’ll find your fellow crewmembers on a yacht are looking to do the same thing!
However, it’s important to stress that even though you’re working on a pleasure vessel, you are not on this vessel for pleasure. You are a member of the crew; you are not on board to relax and have fun. There’s a mythical aura surrounding super-yachts, and people assume that crewmembers have access to all of the facilities at any time, even if there are no guests on board. This couldn’t be further from the truth…the boat needs to be guest-ready at all times, and it’s the responsibility of the crew to ensure that’s the case. Everything needs to be absolutely spotless and in working condition, and it’s your 9-5 job to keep it so. You must get used to cleaning things that are already spotless and understanding this required and normal. You live in the crew quarters, and you work in the guest quarters. Being a crewmember is a job that will offer you a lot of opportunity to do something different with your life, but you need to remember that it is first and foremost a job, and that for the length of your rotation you are essentially living and working in a floating office building. Listed below is a breakdown of the main positions on a yacht, and what you can be expected to be responsible for:
Deckhand: this is exactly what it sounds like. You’re responsible for the exterior of the vessel—cleaning, scrubbing, waxing, and polishing when you are in port, and working as an active, outdoors crewmember when the vessel is moving. You’re responsible for tying the boat to dock, keeping lookout, and manning the tenders.
Stewardess: This is an inside job, and is basically that of the house-mom or housekeeper. You’re responsible for keeping the interior clean, the linens freshly washed, the pantries stocked, and any other miscellaneous items that may come up. You’ll also be attending to the guest needs when they’re on board.
Mechanic: You’ll be responsible for working in the engine room. Generally this will require a University degree and serious work experience in the field, but there are also openings for lower-level engineers or assistants if you have trade experience.
Chef: That’s right, some yachts hire chefs to cook for the guests and crew…if you are currently a chef and looking for one of the sweetest postings on the planet, consider applying to become a chef on a yacht. There is far less menial work required than in any other position, and as long as you can cook everyone will love you. For the most part, you’re working alone and are responsible for getting all of the food, keeping the freezers and refrigerators stocked, and preparing a diverse and well-appointed menu for every meal.
Despite the seemingly trivial, dogged nature of the work, most crewmembers understand that working on a yacht is a trade-off worth making. It’s not the most glamorous job itself, but your floating office building is constantly traveling to new and exotic destinations, giving you the opportunity to visit places you might never have otherwise had the opportunity to go. You won’t be able to explore destinations completely on your own time, but you’re often given a day or two off every week, which is an exciting prospect for someone who wants to travel. While it is imperative to understand that for the most part you will be doing dirty, menial jobs that will allow you to free your lifestyle in other ways, but there are bright sides to being on the boat itself.
Now that you have a better idea of what working on a yacht entails, it’s time to find a job. Before anyone will hire you, you need to have your STCW certification, which stands for Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping. Getting your STCW is an absolute requirement if you want to work on any vessel—it’s akin you getting your drivers license if you want to be a bus driver. It’s non-negotiable, and relatively expensive—about $1000 in the US, though certifications can be found for cheaper in countries with a lower standard of living (the certificate is the same). The high cost of the certification makes it necessary to learn a little bit about the job before spending a large amount of time and money on the course. However, once you get the certification, it is mind-blowingly easy to get a job. Upon graduation, you will be automatically networked with tons of crew, yacht owners, and skippers who will know about scores of job opportunities for you. The thing is, everyone will have their STCW…so what will make you stand apart?
Anything that you can bring to the table to distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd will make you a hot commodity in the yachting business. First and foremost is an affable, easy-going personality. You need to be able to be presentable to any guests that will be on board, and exude an air of confidence. They need to be comfortable that you are an authority on this vessel and capable of providing professional assistance. That’s simply a personality trait that you need to have or develop, but on top of that here’s a list of resume points that will be helpful in getting you a job:
Any medical certification you can obtain will be a huge plus. Getting your first aid ticket is a plus, but if you are a nurse, volunteer medic, or have any professional background in medical care, you immediately become valuable. Most yachts are required to have a nurse on board, and it could be you!
If you have any particular trade experience—be it as an electrician, carpenter, or painter—it’s a big plus, as all these things are in high demand at sea. Anyone who can wear two hats is a valuable commodity; so taking the time to get any certification or learn a new skill with regards to the trade industry will set you apart.
Recreational skills: are you a dive-master? Do you sail, or free-dive? Have you given swimming lessons? Any skill you have that can be utilized on a boat will be something that will make you a more valuable crewmember!
Working on a yacht should be a fun. You will live and work with your crewmates for months at a time, so you want to ensure that you can be yourself when working with them. That means doing enough research to be confident that the lifestyle of a yacht crewmember is for you. It may be a dream job, but the job itself is not a dream—if you can deal with the work with a fun, upbeat attitude, then you should be fine. Presenting the best side of yourself—the person who can teach kids to swim or dive, can drive a boat through a tight space with no problems, but still be able to socialize with anyone—guest or crew—is someone everyone wants on board. If this sounds like you, then what are you waiting for? It’s time to go and get your STCW.