You don’t need to be a billionaire to travel the high seas on a luxury yacht, hopping from port to port to experience coastal destinations. All you need to do is become a yachtie: a worker on a luxury yacht, whether that be in hospitality or as a deckhand. By becoming a yachtie, you can earn money, live for free, and travel to some of the most beautiful destinations in the world on a floating palace. But fair warning: the job isn’t completely glamorous; it’s hard work. But if you get down with the “work hard play hard” mentality, you’ll be able to set sail soon.


How to become a yachtie:

1. What is it really like to work on a yacht?
2. Yacht crew eligibility and requirements
3. 4 entry-level yacht jobs that do not require prior experience
4. Begin creating your plan of action
5. Begin networking
6. Begin day working
7. Ace your interviews
8. How to stay afloat on your first boat


 

1. What is it like to work on a yacht?

 
Pursuing a job in the yachting industry takes a lot of effort and energy, and it requires you to completely uproot your land-based life and move onto a boat full time. For the right kind of person, it’s totally worth it, but let’s face it, yachting is not for everyone.

The upside of working on a yacht:

  1. Get paid to travel the world in style.

    • You no longer have to separate work from traveling, now traveling is part of your job. As soon as you’re off the clock, simply step onto the dock and your mini vacation begins.
    • Yachts don’t go to boring, ugly places. You can expect to travel to some of the most remote and exotic destinations in the world. A few yacht hotspots include the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and the Mediterranean.
  2. Live for free, earn cash, save money, and pay off debt.

    • Even the most basic entry-level job on a yacht starts off with a salary of $2,000-$3,000 USD per month and you don’t have to have a college education to get hired.
    • There is also the possibility of earning additional cash tips (tax-free) which can range from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand USD per charter (depending on the length of the trip and the number of guests onboard).
    • When you live on a yacht, your living expenses are covered. You no longer have to pay for food, rent, transportation, or utilities. This can save you thousands of dollars a month.

The downside of working on a yacht:

  1. It can be very long, physical work that requires strength and stamina.

    • Contrary to popular belief, a majority of the tasks you must execute on a day-to-day basis are not luxurious.
    • You may have to work 16+ hour days for weeks on end if you work on a busy boat. You may get very little rest during these trips.
    • Some of the tasks you have to do are not appealing. You’ll be cleaning toilets, crawling around in tiny spaces, lifting heavy things, dealing with lots of chemicals, and getting dirty, sweaty, and wet.
  2. You must leave your life on land, and move onto a boat full-time.

    • You must be willing to drop everything and move onto a boat.
    • It is a long process that requires a lot of preparation, determination, effort, energy, and time.
    • Succeeding in getting a job will not happen overnight, it can take several months, and to become good at it can take several more.

 

2. Yacht crew eligibility and requirements

Before you can even consider pursuing a career in the yachting industry, there are 4 minimum requirements that you have to be able to meet:
 

  1. Have proper legal documentation
    • You must be at least 18 to work on a yacht.
  2. Be physically able
    • You must pass a seafarers medical exam such as an ENG 1. This is just a quick doctor check-up/physical. It’s around $100 USD. It is valid for a maximum of 2 years.
    • To live on a boat full time, in tight quarters with other crew members.
    • To work long, physically-demanding shifts — sometimes 16 hours or more per day.
    • To work outside in the elements, or inside in small spaces, if your position requires it.
  3. Be mentally willing
    • You should be willing to commit to working for at least 6 months, but ideally a year when you are starting out in the industry.
  4. Complete basic training
    • STCW-95 which stands for Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping. It’s a 5-day course (typically) that costs about $1,000.00 USD (give or take). You must complete this course physically/in person, you can not get certified online.
    • Additional security awareness course (not mandatory but highly recommended) You can choose from either:
      • Security Awareness: 4 hour $149
      • VPDSD: 8 hour (stand watch) $299

Check out the International Yacht Crew Resources Directory for an extensive list of maritime schools that offer this training.

You can also learn more about eligibility and requirements in this Yacht Job YouTube Video Series.
 

3. 4 entry-level yacht jobs that do not require prior experience

 
There are all types of different tasks that need to be performed around the clock to maintain a yacht and keep it running smoothly. While some of the job positions on board are very technical and require a lot of skill and knowledge, there are 4 entry-level jobs that require little to no prior experience. The most common entry level jobs on a yacht are some variation of:

  1. Stewardess/Steward
  2. Deckhand
  3. Cook/Chef
  4. Stew/Deck/Cook

For more information about each job including tasks, responsibilities, contracts, and salaries check out this post about the 4 entry level yacht jobs for beginners.
 

4. Begin creating your plan of action

 
For an easy step by step guide with all of this information check out The Yacht Job Handbook for New Crew, with over 300 pages of great information and resources for aspiring yacht crew including how to get certified, how to create a professional resume, how to network and gain an edge, and how to prepare for interviews. Use the promo code “matador” for 50% off!

The 2 most important decisions to make before you get started:

Before you begin planning and coordinating your new adventure, you have 2 decisions to make that will determine every other action you need to take from this moment on, those are:

  • When are able to make the transition?
  • Which hiring port will you go to to get training and look for work?

Once you have answered these 2 questions, everything else will fall into place. However, these questions should not be taken lightly. You should plan strategically so you are at the right place at the right time when you are ready to begin job hunting.

The best times of year to look for work:

  • High season Winter/Spring
  • Turnover April to mid-June
  • High season Summer/Fall
  • Turnover September to mid-December

During the 2 high-season periods, yachts are generally on the move with a full crew and itinerary in place before they set off. While this is not the ideal time to be looking for work, it is certainly still possible to get hired. While there is a lower volume of job opportunities, there is also less competition.

On the other hand, the periods between the two high seasons are an ideal time to look for work because there tends to be a lot of turnover. Most boats will return to a major yachting hub for a couple of weeks or months to regroup after a busy season. Many crew members are either taking time off, “jumping ship” (quitting), or else they have completed their contracts and are off to spend their hard-earned money.

The 6 best ports in the world to find yacht jobs:

While yachts travel to various ports and destinations all over the world, there are a few “yacht hubs” where you can expect to find a big presence of yachts, yacht crew, and entry-level job opportunities. Your best chance of finding a job will be in one of the following locations:

  1. Ft. Lauderdale/Southern Florida
  2. Newport, Rhode Island
  3. Antibes, France
  4. Palma, De Mallorca
  5. St. Maarten, Caribbean
  6. Antigua, Caribbean

While these are some of the most well-known international yachting destinations, there are countless ports all over the world where yachts are known to frequent and pass through. If you aren’t able to relocate to one of the destinations above, do some research and try to find other locations that are more convenient and viable for you.

You will often hear people in the yachting industry say “it’s all about timing,” which is true. There are many reasons that crew suddenly quit, or get fired, and their position needs to be filled immediately. If you are available, willing, and able, you may find yourself getting interviewed and being offered a position that very same day!

Although the time of year is less important, you do still need to be physically located in or near a hiring port when you’re ready to work, especially if you are looking for an entry-level position.
 

5. Begin networking

 
Once you have relocated to a yachting hub, networking is essential for increasing your chances of getting a job. The more you expand your network, the greater your chances are of landing more interviews and getting more job offers!
There are multiple channels you can use to network and find work in the yachting industry. Once you arrive at a yachting hub to begin training and job hunting you can explore the top three:

  1. Crew agencies
    • This is an agency with individuals who help place crew looking for work on boats who are looking for crew, and vice versa. Most of them begin with you creating an account on their website and filling out lots of personal information about yourself and what type of job you’re looking for.
  2. Online
    • Job sites/apps: there are several job sites such as Daywork123.com and apps such as Crew Compass where yacht crew jobs are posted daily.
    • Social media: there are dozens of Facebook groups worldwide that are great resources for finding and posting job opportunities as well as yacht industry information in general.
  3. In person
    • Crew networking events: these are social events that are held in some of the larger yachting hubs that enable aspiring crew to mingle with captains and other yacht industry professionals.
    • Crew houses: these are affordable housing options for yacht crew that are similar to hostels.
    • Day working or walking the docks at marinas, docks, and boatyards.

Check out the International Yacht Crew Resources Directory for an extensive list of crew agencies, job sites, and facebook groups that are free resources for yacht crew. Or read 7 Ways to Gain an Edge in The Yacht Industry Job Market.
 

6. Begin “day working”

 
While the ultimate goal is to get a full-time job, most new crew typically spend a few weeks or even months gaining experience by “day working” and working temporary gigs before committing to a permanent position on a yacht.

While you’re in the process of day working, you should be testing out different types of boats and positions to see which is the best fit for you. You should also start applying for full-time jobs and hopefully lining up interviews.

To avoid making costly and embarrassing mistakes, you should check out these yachtie greenhorn training tutorials on YouTube. In these quick flicks, I demonstrate some of the most common tasks you will be doing, as well as methods and techniques for doing them properly.
 

7. Ace your interviews

 
Every boat is different, and every interview is different. The one thing they have in common is that they have a position that’s open; so, they want the best candidate possible. Chances are they’re looking for someone who:

  • Is qualified to do the job mentally and physically
  • Is eager and willing to learn
  • Is mentally stable
  • Can handle working long hours, out at sea, while living in small quarters with several other crew members and personalities
  • Can start ASAP
  • Is willing to commit long-term

At this point, it’s all in your hands, good luck! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t make the cut for a job you were excited about; more opportunities will come along. Just continue expanding your network, gaining experience, and applying for jobs!
 

8. How to stay afloat on your first boat

 
Getting a job is a huge accomplishment, but can you stick it out? Your first few weeks onboard will either make or break you. Day working is a great way to get your feet wet in the industry, but once you go all in and move onto a boat to work full time, you’ll either sink or swim.

In the yachting industry, job security does not exist. You’re going to have to work extra hard to prove that you’re worth keeping around. It can take several months to train a new crew member. There are many mistakes you can make early on in the game such as behaving unprofessionally or doing tasks improperly that can result in severe damage, injuries, embarrassment, and lost job opportunities. If you don’t take things seriously in the beginning, they won’t waste any more time training you, and you may find yourself back on the job hunt.

But if you do stick with it, no matter how rough the waters get (figuratively and literally) you’ll be able to make a real career as a yachtie and experience luxury coastal destinations that might not have been possible before.