Yachtie Guide: how to work on a yacht with zero experience

How to work on a yacht: the answers you need to get started working in yachting

Wondering how to get into yachting but have no idea where to start? With countless years spent placing candidates in the industry, we have all the information you need to get your first crew job. Read our beginner’s guide to how to work on a yacht, covering everything from making the perfect yacht CV to the typical yacht stewardess salary

What entry-level jobs are available on a yacht?

The most common entry-level roles on yachts are stewardess jobs and deckhand jobs. These roles both use skills that you can pick up in the hospitality industry on land – namely, keeping customers happy and ensuring everything is kept sparkling clean. 

Specialist roles, such as lower-ranking yacht engineer jobs and chef jobs, may also be available as entry-level providing you have relevant experience on land. See our guides to working on a yacht to find out more about the different positions available. 

What qualifications do I need to work on a yacht?

The minimum you need is the ENG1 and the STCW Basic Training.

  • What is the ENG1 certificate?

    The ENG1 is the basic medical examination required for everyone working at sea. It confirms you are fit and healthy enough to have a job on the water, and must be carried out by one of the few MCA-accredited doctors. 

    Cotton Crews can recommend a certified medical professional to carry out your ENG1. It should cost around $175.

  • What is the STCW course?

    The STCW Basic Safety Training is designed to help you cope with emergencies onboard. Lasting around a week, this course covers personal survival techniques, fire safety and fighting, first aid, social responsibility and security awareness. Your STCW needs to be renewed every five years. 

  • Where can I get training?

    There are a number of different schools that teach the STCW course in South Florida, most of which allow you to spread out your modules as needed to work around any other commitments. Get in touch to hear our recommendations. 

  • Do I need additional training or courses?

    You don’t explicitly need any other certificates, but there are a number of nice-to-haves. These include interior yacht service courses to help your customer-facing skills and advanced bartending training – for making those all-important cocktails onboard!

What experience is useful for working on a yacht?

You might want to know how to work on a yacht with zero experience, but that doesn’t mean your previous land-based positions won’t help you get into the industry. Jobs in hospitality and bartending are useful, as are high-end restaurant or hostess work, roles in the beauty industry, in childcare/teaching, food safety, flower arrangement or anything yacht related. Mechanics and engineering degrees can also be helpful for fixing miscellaneous items around the yacht.

How do I get my first job on a yacht?

After securing the necessary certificates, follow these steps to get your first role.

  • How do I make my yacht CV?

    It shouldn’t surprise you that a big part of how to get into yachting is creating the perfect yacht CV; see our guide for more info.

  • How do I find yacht jobs?

    Our Cotton Crews Jobs App (the green one) is the perfect place to browse roles on the go, available for download on both Apple and Android. Otherwise, check out the yacht jobs page on our website, give us a call, or drop by to find out about our latest opportunities.

  • What is day work?

    Day work is when you help out onboard a yacht for the day. It’s a great way of seeing whether the superyacht industry is for you without committing to anything, and can lead to you quickly being offered your dream job. Find out day work dos and don’ts here. 

  • Which locations are best for finding yacht jobs?

    Yachting hubs like South Florida are best for finding yachtie roles – why do you think there are so many yacht crew agencies in Fort Lauderdale? Alternatively, head to Antibes in France, Palma de Mallorca in Spain or Newport in Rhode Island – considered some of the top-tier hiring destinations.

“Cotton Crews app has been the best app for finding yacht work. The work Cotton Crews does is amazing and it was the perfect place to go for crew placement.”

How much do you make working on a yacht?

Now we’ve answered how to get a job on a yacht, the next question is whether it makes financial sense for you. Bear in mind that yacht salaries vary a lot between positions, and depend on your experience.

  • Does yachting pay well?

    Entry level roles pay a similar base salary to other land-based industries. However, there are certain bonuses to yachting that may allow you to take home more than your peers! For starters, you don’t have to pay any living expenses while working on a yacht, meaning you’ll save most of your earnings. If you’re working on a charter vessel you can also see some hefty tips that’ll go straight into your pocket.

  • How much can entry-level yacht crew earn?

    A junior stewardess can expect to earn anywhere between $2,500 and $3,200 per month, depending on the size of the vessel they are working on. Meanwhile a yacht deckhand salary can be anywhere from $2,000 to $2,8000 per month, with rare cases reporting to earn over $3,000 per month.

  • What salary can more specialist or experienced candidates expect?

    A yacht chef takes home anywhere from $3,500 to $10,000, depending on the size of the vessel they work on and their experience level. Following the same logic, a yacht engineer can earn anywhere between $3,000 to $13,500. 

    Deckhands usually progress to bosun after learning how to work on a yacht like a true professional, gaining experience and proving their managerial skills. A typical bosun salary is between $3,500 to $6,000.

  • How much does a super yacht Captain make?

    Yacht salaries jump up fairly quickly as you progress. As the head honcho of the vessel, the typical yacht Captain salary is between $4,500 and $7,000 per month on a yacht under 30m, rising to between $8,000 to $13,000+ for superyachts over 50m.

When is the yachting season?

What’s it like working on a superyacht?

Salt life may sound like a dream, but what’s the reality?

  • Is yacht work for everyone?

    Yachting is for anyone who loves to go out of their way to please. However, it is open to all sorts of personalities – every boat is different and we will always do our best to place you with likeminded people. Take a look at our page on what makes a great superyacht crew for more information.

  • What are the negatives of working on a yacht?

    Working on a yacht is not all fun and games; it means spending great lengths of time away from friends and family, putting in extra-long hours as needed and living in a shared, confined space.

  • What are the positives of working on a yacht?

    For many, the benefits of a yacht job outweigh the negatives. These include travelling the world, the opportunity to make and save a lot of money, making new friends for life and gaining important skills that will transfer over to many other industries.

Still have some burning questions? To find out more about how to get into yachting, contact Lauren and the team.

Check out our yacht crew roles on our free Cotton Crew Jobs app. Download the app here: