Are you wondering how to become a yachtie? With over 10 Years of experience in the industry, I know what it takes!
Follow this step-by-step guide on how to get into yachting and fast-track your goal of finding your dream job.
Here, I will provide insight into what it takes to enter this exclusive industry and offer tips for securing your first yacht job.
Table of Contents
What is a Yachtie?
A Yachtie is a term used to describe anyone who works on a yacht. You will be welcomed to a world of free travel, adventure, lots of money, and experiences of a lifetime.
If you’re starting your search for becoming a yachtie, there are a few positions you can apply for, namely stewardess or deckhand.
A stewardess is an entry-level position working within the interior of the yacht. This role covers a range of tasks, including but not limited to housekeeping, laundry, bartending, table scaping, floral arrangements, serving and hosting guests.
A deckhand’s role is to maintain the exterior of the yacht. Duties will include cleaning, polishing, varnishing, sanding, caulking, and any other maintenance work required.
Mandatory Qualifications to Becoming a Yachtie
In order to get a job in the yachting industry, every seafarer has to have the STCW basic training certification and pass an ENG1 medical certificate.
The STCW (Standards of Training and Certification of Watchkeeping) is an internationally mandated course and a minimum requirement for anyone who wishes to work on a yacht.
The training focuses on basic safety skills and knowledge to ensure that all crew know how to handle emergency situations onboard as well as basic safe working practices.
This STCW course is comprised of 4 modules, takes 5 days to complete, and is valid for 5 years. The modules include:
- Personal Survival Techniques (PST)
- Firefighting and prevention (FFP)
- Elementary First Aid (EFA)
- Personal Safety and Social Responsibility (PSSR)
In 2010, the STCW convention added a new module requirement to the basic safety training. The Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA) module is a requirement for all crew working on ISPS-compliant vessels (over 500gross tons/+50m).
Furthermore, if you are going to become a yachtie with designated security duties, you require the PDSD (proficiency in designated security duties) course. I recommend you just skip straight to the PSDS course which is a one-day online course and includes PSA.
An ENG1 is a basic medical examination carried out by an MCA (Maritime Coastguard Agency) certified doctor. This confirms that you are in a fit condition to work on a yacht and mandatory to becoming a yachtie.
Before we move on to other courses that are not mandatory, I am going to nail down some more essential items to consider if you want to become a yachtie.
Passports and Visas Required to Become a Yachtie
This is a big one and not easy for all to figure out when becoming a yachtie.
When you work on a yacht it is likely to travel to all sorts of destinations around the world. In order for you to do that you need to hold a passport or obtain certain visa’s that allow you to travel and work in those areas.
Look into your personal situation and passport to identify which visa you need.
B1/B2 Visa – Needed to Enter the United States and Surrounding Waters
This visa is notoriously hard to obtain, but once you have it, it will be valid for 10 years!
The B1/B2 is a combination VISITOR visa, a non-immigrant visa for persons who want to enter the United States temporarily for business (b1) or for tourism (b2), or for a combination of both (b1/b2).
When you have this visa, it does not mean you can work in the United States or be employed by a U.S. employer. For yachting purposes, it allows you to enter the U.S. to work on a yacht that is flagged by another state (such as Cayman Islands, Jamaica etc).
In order to get this visa, you need to have a job lined up so that the Captain can give you paperwork to go the embassy to apply for the visa. This is unfortunately very rare as Captain’s are going to hire superyacht crew that already hold visa’s and are available immediately.
However, if you land a job on a yacht in the Mediterranean, you might get lucky. If that boat is planning on crossing for the Caribbean Season, and the Captain wants to keep you on for the following season, then they will assist you in obtaining the B1/B2 visa.
Schengan Visa – Needed to Enter Europe for the Mediterranean Season
A Schengan visa is a short stay visa that allows a person to travel to any member of the Schengen area, per stay, up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. For more information on how to apply for this visa, go to the Schengen info website.
You really want to try get yourself a multi-entry visa. This way you can travel freely in Europe and locate yourself in the right place at the right time.
How to get into Yachting with the Perfect Yachting CV
It is crucial to have a well-laid-out Yacht CV that showcases your skills and grabs the attention of the Captain.
If you’re looking to work on a yacht but you don’t have any previous experience, it can be tough to stand out from other crew members.
Give the Captain or agent a reason to stop and read your CV. Here are a few tips and tricks for writing the perfect yacht CV.
- Have a professional head and shoulders photo of yourself, look smart, professional, and friendly. DON’T TAKE A SELFIE.
- Write a simple yet captivating objective. Highlight the job you are aiming for as well as why you are the best candidate.
- SPELL CHECK!! I cannot reiterate this enough. When we work in an industry that requires you to be meticulous and show attention to detail, spelling errors in a CV are not a good start.
- Keep it simple and try to highlight ANY attributes/experiences that could be transferable to yachting.
- There are certain bits of information that are crucial to a CV that you do not want to leave out. You need to list your personal information such as health status, passport and visa’s held, education, contact info, location, and availability. You also need an objective, work experience, any additional courses and skills you hold, references, and some hobbies and interests.
- Have a Word document and PDF version of your CV as different agents will have a preference.
Where to Be and When in Order to Become a Yachtie
It is important to base yourself in the right place and at the right time in order to become a yachtie.
Wherever you decide to go, you will want to head over a few weeks before the season starts.
Boats will be arriving from having crossed the Atlantic, or coming out of the yard and getting themselves ready for the season ahead. These boats will be looking for day workers so you want to position yourself near the main marinas and start networking.
“Daywork” is when you get hired on a day-to-day basis, earning cash and assisting boats as they need extra help onboard.
Daywork is a great way to get experience as a Yachtie. It can either lead to you getting a full-time job or if you’ve made a good impression on the crew but they don’t have an open position, they are likely to pass on your CV to boats that are looking.
Captains prefer to hire crew that come recommended by other captains. Never stop working hard to make a good impression!
Another good time to seek work is towards the end of the season. If crew are looking to resign, they generally wait until the end of the season so you can bet that there will be a lot of positions opening up.
Also, keep an eye out for Boat shows, these are busy times for yachts and they will always need extra help. Some of the biggest boat shows are:
- Fort Lauderdale Boat Show: End of October
- Antigua Boat Show: Early December
- Monaco Boat Show: End of September
The Mediterranean Summer Season (April/May to September/October)
In the Mediterranean, the best place to position yourself is in Antibes in the South of France. This is one of the biggest yachting hubs with a lot of crew houses and yacht agents. You are also not far from other popular locations such as Monaco and Nice.
Palma on the island of Mallorca is also one of the biggest yachting hubs to be situated with a lot of marinas, agents and crew housing.
The United States and Caribbean Winter Season (November/December to March/April)
The biggest hub for yachting in America is Fort Lauderdale, and in the Caribbean, it is Antigua and St Maarten.
I do not recommend flying into America and dock walking if you are not a citizen or green card holder. This is ILLEGAL and could get you into trouble.
Sign Up to Yacht Crew Agencies
Sign up with as many crew agencies as possible, as most Captains will use agencies to find crew.
This process can be tedious but make sure you take the time to fill out all your information correctly and login regularly to keep your information up to date.
This is also an opportunity to try arrange interviews with the agents as they can better get to know you rather than just reading your CV. Make a good impression and agents will be sure to put your CV forward where possible.
Here are some popular crew agencies you should sign up with to get started: Luxury Yacht Group, Blue Water Yachting, The Crew Network, Cotton Crews, YotSpot, Northrop and Johnson, HR Crew, Burgess and Elite Crew.
There will also be a lot of job posts happening on Facebook and social media so keep an eye out there too.
Yachting Facebook pages you will want to join and check regularly are: Fort Lauderdale Yacht Crew, Palma Yacht Crew, Antibes Yacht Crew and anything else that pops up with job posts.
Additional Courses to Consider to Become a Yachtie
Here are a few courses that aren’t mandatory to become a Yachtie, but you might consider doing if you want to get some more experience or to boost your CV above the rest.
In some situations, relatable experience might be more important than holding a certificate. This will all really depend on the position you are going for, your budget, and your relatable land-based experience.
Food Hygiene and Safety Level 2
This course is for a yacht stewardess or steward, as well as chefs. Larger boats will require this certification so I do recommend it
Interior Start Up Courses
This entails approximately 5 days in which you will be taught all the basics of life onboard including service, cleaning, laundry, wine service, flower arranging, table setting and much more.
These courses can be great to boost your confidence and gain some insight into what you can expect onboard as a yacht stew.
Power Boat Level 2
If you are pursuing a deckhand position then this is the very first entry-level course you will need.
Approved Engine Course, this will be the first entry-level course if you are thinking of pursuing an engineering career.
Attitude is Key
Once you’ve made it this far and you are out there trying to become a yacht crew member, just remember you are competing with a lot of people that are doing the same thing.
Your attitude is SO important.
When living on a yacht in a tight space with a bunch of other people, working crazy long days and sometimes feeling worn out, it is fundamental to have a good team of “good people”.
So work hard, put in the extra hours, stay positive, and remain professional at all times. You may not have the experience right now, but making a good impression and having the willingness to learn will take you far.