How to Find a Job on a Yacht
Here at Meridiano, we're dedicated to providing helpful content and assisting crew to find the right yacht job. Whether you're a professional looking to make a career jump or a recent college graduate in search of adventure, yachting could be a great opportunity for you. Why? With little or no cost of living (no rent, bills or food costs), constant travel, meeting interesting people, enjoying beautiful settings and learning new skills, all while making good money — it seems like a no-brainer. However, I must warn you that it's not for everyone. Long hours, time away from family, and performing physically demanding jobs are a few realities about yachting to consider. Getting started in yachting can seem like a daunting task, but I promise it's not a huge mystery. Below we outline the top 5 things to consider when searching for a job on a yacht:
Find a Job on a Yacht Tip #1: Transition from Land
Even if you don't have a background on yachts or sailing, you could already have valuable skills that could help you find a job on a yacht. For example, cooking/chef skills, hospitality, bartending, engineering knowledge, carpentry, etc.
Find a Job on a Yacht Tip #2: Timing is everything
In an industry revolving around warm waters, you can bet there is seasonality to the hiring process. Most yachts move around in the summer and winter "high seasons" and spend "low seasons" in the fall and spring to make repairs, hire new crew, and provision. Of course, there are always exceptions, as each yacht is unique in their specific program. Generally, I would recommend looking for a job during the "transition" seasons of fall and spring when boats are either coming back from charter season or ramping up for a new season.
Find a Job on a Yacht Tip #3: Location, location, location
Although you can find yachts in any corner of the world, there are two main hiring hubs: Ft. Lauderdale in the US and Antibes in France. Because of the lower cost of living, Florida is a popular choice not only for Americans but for other wannabe-yachties (here's looking at you South Africans, Australians, English, and more). If you're serious about looking for work on a yacht, move down to Florida in the spring or fall. March/April are pretty ideal times. Same goes for the fall months of Sep-Nov timeframe = key time to look for jobs.By June/July or Dec/Jan you've missed the majority of the yachts, but can still find some that are based locally in Florida.
Find a Job on a Yacht Tip #4: Budgeting for the job hunt
Finding a job on a yacht can help you make and save money very quickly. However, to get started in the industry, it takes some time to find the right yacht job. Until you find your dream job, you have to worry about paying for housing, your STCW course, and other living expenses. As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. You could certainly survive on less, but you should budget about $3,000-$4,000 to feel comfortable. This budget covers the required STCW 95 course (around $950-$1,200), weekly crew housing ($180-200/week), and food/spending money. In an ideal world, you'll take your week course and find a job immediately. The reality is that it could potentially take 1-3 months to find the right job depending on your tenacity. To supplement your budget and help your career, you can find "daywork" on yachts. Dayworking is basically mini internships on a boat - everything from washing boats to helping crew detail clean the interior. These pay around $150 a day if you're just starting out, or up to $300/day if you're very experienced. The rates could vary depending on the job and the length of work. More than money, it helps boost your marine experience on your yacht CV. Land-based jobs, unfortunately, don't add a ton of credibility to a yacht newbie unless there are transferrable skills like hospitality experience (restaurants, bars, hotels, etc) or technical skills (engineering, electrical, woodwork, etc). Not to worry, there are great ways to find daywork.
Wait a minute, what's this about crew housing? It's basically a dorm for other yachties who need a cheap place to stay. It's great for networking, and you'll make some amazing friends in the process. Most likely, they'll also be taking the courses with you. This industry is small, and it's never too early to network! If you're looking for a place to stay, some popular choices are Anchored Crewhouse, Crew Homes, Peter Pan, and Smart Move
Find a Job on a Yacht Tip #5: Required Courses
Before finding your dream yacht job, you need to get your STCW certificate, a basic certificate for anyone working on yachts. If you're in Florida, MPT and PYT are a good place to start. There are other schools located around the world that also offer STCW training, so do your research. It takes a week, and covers everything from basic survival at sea, fire and water safety, first aid, and information about living and working on the water. In recent years, many yachts have also started to require you to take a security course. However, if you're interested in working in the interior crew, you might consider an introductory interior course. These run about $1,000+ for 5 days covering everything from basic cleaning to flowers to silver service. It's not a requirement, but it could help someone feel more comfortable if you're new. Most yacht chief stews (heads up the interior team) have their own particular way of doing things, so you can certainly learn on the job and not have to take the course. If you're interested in taking a course but want to save some money, silver service is probably the most important. Wait, what about the outside of the boat? For anyone interested in working with the exterior crew, there is also a weeklong deck course available. Again, it's not a requirement but it helps give you an idea of what to expect and help you prepare for your future job aboard a yacht. This covers everything from essential navigation to learning to drive a tender (smaller boat used to shuttle guests to shore). Bottom line, STCW is ABSOLUTELY required, and many yachts also ask for ENG1 (medical certificate) and a Safety and Security Course. If budget is a concern, stick with getting your STCW and ENG1, and focus all your energy on getting day work and real experience on a boat.