Superyachts, Luxury Yachts, Megayachts, Gigayachts – or just a yacht, there are many words used to describe the thousands of large yachts that now cruise the world’s oceans.

To qualify as a “Superyacht” a vessel, whether it is privately owned or commercial, motor (MY) or sail (SY), has to be in excess of 24 metres in length. The largest yachts are now over 150 metres! Of course luxury yachts are very expensive to build and maintain. Their owners take pride in their assets and quite justifiably expect them to be run and cared for by qualified and dedicated professionals.

A job on a superyacht can be highly rewarding. The financial rewards can be very good as can be the personal and emotional rewards. These beautiful yachts visit some of the world’s most exclusive and exotic places – from St Tropez to Fiji, from Porto Banus to Bali, from Sardinia to Singapore. But to gain these rewards one must adhere to four of the basic requirements of becoming a seafarer:

  • Discipline
  • Determination
  • Responsibility
  • Respect

If you follow these rules and are determined to succeed in the industry and not just treat it as a “filler” between less demanding, rewarding and varied land based jobs you could go far.

A glamorous industry? Yes of course it is – but it needs professional, dedicated people to ensure that it runs smoothly. Standing on the quayside watching a captain and his crew bring in a 80 metre yacht may look easy to an untrained eye, but it has taken a long time, training and practice to ensure that a multimillion dollar asset is handled with such skill and care. Everything looks easy – when you know how to do it!

In the tabs below you will find our guides to careers on superyachts, details of the qualifications you will require and other useful information on this fascinating industry.

guides to careers on superyachts

These guides have been compiled by Döhle Yacht Crew to provide an introduction for those who are contemplating working in the remarkable and prestigious world of superyachts. It will also be of assistance to those who are already in the industry who are considering moving up the career ladder.

As the title states, these are guides, they are not intended to be definitive or comprehensive documents.

In the Guide to Careers on Superyachts we cover:

Information on the superyacht industry and how it has grown – How to get into the industry and how to apply – Basic qualifications – CV writing and preparing for the interview – The “Career Tree” – The Large Yacht Code, MLC and SEA – Tax and NI – The “Seasons” – Useful Links

For detailed information on each type of job available on superyachts, follow the links to Deck Positions, Interior Positions and Engineering Positions.

Basic entry qualifications

For employment on a commercially registered superyacht, the minimum requirement for all crew is basic safety training. Deck and Engineer Officers must meet the certification requirements in accordance with the vessel’s characteristics.

STCW

The basic safety training is known as Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). This safety training was developed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The full course comprises four modules/certificates:

  • Personal Survival Techniques
  • Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention
  • Elementary First Aid
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibility

All four modules must be completed. They can be taken as individual courses or all four together, which takes some 5-6 days.

Some privately operated yachts may accept applicants who have not yet completed STCW training, however there is also a growing trend even within this category of vessel to employ crew who have their STCW. Therefore, we strongly recommend that newcomers to yachting complete the basic training before applying for any positions to enhance your prospects for employment.

The STCW Convention and Code was amended in 2010 contained new security training requirements which came into force in 2014. This training is required by all seafarers employed on board vessels to which the ISPS Code applies. The relevant course is the Proficiency in Security Awareness and is normally a one day course.

Medical Certificates

Depending on which country the yacht is registered under you may need a valid medical certificate (i.e. a seafarer certificate). Some employers will also expect this, regardless of which flag the yacht flies, as it may be a requirement of the vessel’s insurance policies.

We strongly recommend that any new comers to this industry undertake a medical examination with a view of obtaining a valid medical certificate such as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) approved Medical, known as ENG1. The list of MCA approved medical practitioners can be obtained from the MCA website. Or contact us for advice.

The ENG1 has to be renewed on a regular basis.

Other Qualifications

In order to prove your determination to succeed in the industry we recommend that you take other courses before you apply for a job aboard.

Courses you should consider include: Royal Yachting Association (RYA) qualifications such as Day Skipper, Power Boat Level 2 and VHF/SRC Radio Operators Certificate or IYT Tender Driving. The MCA approved Yacht Rating Course is acceptable.

Pre-experience in yachting, even if it is only for leisure pursuits, will be an asset as it will show that you have some of the basic understanding of the sea – as will any experience in the leisure industry.

Experience in other fields which have relevance would be useful, such as; engineering and the service industry.

Knowledge of other languages other than your own will be an asset.

As you progress up the career ladder each new role will require new skills and qualifications.

The Maritime labour convention

 The Maritime Labour Convention came into effect on 20th August 2013. This has a profound effect on all commercial shipping, including commercial superyachts.

The International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Maritime Labour Convention 2006 consolidates and updates over 65 international labour standards related to seafarers adopted over the last eighty years, in order to secure the right of all seafarers to decent employment. It has been designed to become a global instrument known as the “fourth pillar” of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping, along with three other key maritime Conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), namely safety at sea (SOLAS), training, certification and watchkeeping standards (STCW) and environmental protection (MARPOL).

It has two primary purposes:

  • To bring the system of protection contained in existing labour standards closer to the workers concerned, in a form consistent with the rapidly developing globalised sector
  • To improve the applicability of the system, so that shipowners (including superyacht owners) and governments interested in providing decent conditions of work do not have to bear an unequal burden in ensuring protection

The Convention is intended to achieve increased compliance by operators and owners of ships and to strengthen enforcement of standards through mechanisms which operate at all levels.

For example, it contains provisions for:

  • Crew accommodation
  • Complaint procedures available to seafarers
  • Shipowners’ and shipmasters’ supervision of conditions on their ships
  • Flag States’ jurisdiction and control over their ships
  • Port State inspections of foreign ships

By requiring ratifying Members not only to implement the Convention in the national laws but also to document their implementation, the Convention also enhances the effectiveness of the supervision carried out at the international level, especially by the competent bodies of the ILO.

Döhle Yachts has produced a comprehensive guide to the MLC and how it affects superyachts and this can be downloaded below

Guide to the MLC (282kb PDF)

seafarer employment agreement

The MLC establishes minimum requirements of working conditions for seafarers – in effect, a “bill of rights”.

Specifically in terms of crew employment, the MLC requires each flag state to have a clearly written and legally enforceable contract for each crewmember. Every seafarer working on a commercial yacht must have a Flag State approved Seafarer Employment Agreement (SEA).

The MLC Regulations state:

  • Every seafarer has the right to a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards
  • Every seafarer has a right to fair terms of employment
  • Every seafarer has a right to decent working and living conditions on board ship
  • Every seafarer has a right to health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection.
  • The terms and conditions for employment of a seafarer shall be set out or referred to in a clear written legally enforceable agreement and shall be consistent with the standards set out in the Code.

The SEA is a contractual agreement between the individual crewmember and the vessel’s owner, representative or owning company. In most cases the owner has little to do with the yacht’s administration; as many yachts are owned by a company and run by a management firm, we will refer from now just to the “employer” to cover all three entities.

It must be in a language understood by the crewmember. Where such a language is not English, an English translation must be maintained on board the vessel. The SEA must be signed by the crewmember and the vessel’s employer and a copy kept by the crewmember and a copy held on board the vessel. (The importance of a copy being held on board was emphasised within two weeks of the MLC coming into force when a vessel was detained in Denmark as, on inspection it was found that none of the crew had a SEA.)

Döhle Yachts has compiled a guide to the SEA which can be downloaded below:

Guide to the Seafarer Employment Agreement (710kb PDF)

Döhle Yachts glossary of nautical terms

Döhle Yachts has compiled a comprehensive glossary of nautical terms, abbreviations and acronyms. They are terms used in the yachting industry generally and with particular reference to those used in the superyacht sector.

There are separate sections for forecasting and meteorological terms, the names of winds and signal flags.

This glossary is intended as an introductory guide for those seeking to enter the industry and as reference for those already employed within the industry.

This glossary can be downloaded below:

the large yacht code

With the rapid growth of the number of superyachts in operation, it was deemed necessary to introduce a code of practice which governed the operation of these vessels.

The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) “Code of Practice for the Safety of Large Commercial Sailing and Motor Vessels”, or LY1, was introduced in 1998.

The MCA launched the new Large Yacht Code (LY3) at the 2012 Monaco Yacht Show.

Döhle Yachts has produced a guide to the Large Yacht Code which can be downloaded below:

Guide to the Large Yacht Code (612kb PDF)

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