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Yachtie Guide: yacht Captain salary & job description

A superyacht Captain is said to be one of the best jobs in the world. You get to drive a cutting-edge, stunning vessel between some of the world’s most exclusive destinations, all the while taking home a seriously enviable yacht Captain salary. But is it really as good as it sounds?

A yacht Captain is the head honcho of the vessel: they are responsible for the safe operation of the boat, managing every member of crew and ensuring the enjoyment of the owner/s and their guests. From navigating across the open seas to overseeing refit projects, the job of a yacht Captain is widely varied with never a dull moment. It can be a stressful role, but it is rewarded with a close owner relationship and high financial compensation. Discover the typical yacht Captain salary, their responsibilities, qualifications needed and how to become a yacht Captain below, or browse our available Captain roles on our free Cotton Crew Jobs app.

“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 both crew placement and cabins.”

What is a typical yacht Captain salary?

Starting out on a yacht under 30 meters, your typical yacht captain salary will be anywhere between $4,500 and $7,000 per month, depending on the size of the vessel. This is the same for both sailing and motor yacht Captains.

Your yacht Captain salary will increase as you gain more experience and move to larger yachts of 30-50 meters, earning you between $6,000 and $9,000 per month. On yachts over 40 meters, a sailing yacht Captain salary will often start to overtake that of a motor Captain.

As Captain of a superyacht over 50 meters, you might be paid anything from $8,000 to $13,000+, with the highest reported salaries being $19,5000 per month.

Bear in mind that there is no average yacht Captain salary, with remuneration varying from yacht to yacht and some ultra-large superyachts willing to pay above the expected for the right Captain. However, these figures give you a general idea of the progression you can make year by year.

What does a yacht Captain do?

How to become a yacht Captain

So, how do you become a yacht Captain? Working as a mate for several years will get you the experience that you need to progress, and the more dedication you show, the more the current Captain will start to recognize your talent. You may well start as a yacht deckhand and climb the ladder from there.

Many yacht Captains start by working in the merchant navy or cruise ship sectors before moving to yachts. You’ll be at a definite advantage when applying for yacht Captain jobs if you can demonstrate you have handled a yacht of the same or similar size, so gaining experience as a mate on a yacht may be necessary, even as a Captain moving from another industry.

Becoming a yacht Captain takes an undying love of saltwater, mastery of yacht operations and a generous helping of charisma. It’s hard work, however it’s worth it for the right person – especially if you want to earn that generous yacht Captain salary!

What qualifications do you need to become a yacht Captain?

Think you have what it takes to become a yacht Captain? You’ll need the following qualifications to ace the role:

  • Between 3-5 years of experience as an officer or mate
  • A solid track record of navigation
  • Excellent people management
  • First-class service and relationship-building skills
  • Strong IT proficiency
  • Ability to manage finances on a large scale
  • Inventory and admin experience
  • Health and safety training
  • License depending on the tonnage of the yacht you wish to Captain. In some cases, owners and insurance policies may ask for more than is actually required by law.
  • Yachts <100GT:
    USCG Master Near Coastal
  • Yachts <200GT:
    RYA Yachtmaster Offshore (with Commercial Endorsement)
    or RYA Ocean Certificate of Competence (with Commercial Endorsement)
    or IYT Master of Yachts <200T
    or MCA STCW Master (Yachts) <200GT
    or USCG 200T Yachts
  • Yachts <500GT:
    MCA STCW Master (Yachts) <500GT Certificate of Competence
    or USCG 500T Yachts
    USCG 1600T Yachts
  • Yachts <3000GT:
    MCA STCW Master (Yachts) <3000GT Certificate of Competence
    or MCA Merchant Navy STCW Master <3000GT
    or MCA STCW Master (Unlimited)
  • Yachts >3000GT:
    MCA STCW Master (Unlimited)
    or USCG 3000GT Yachts

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