A New Yacht Deckhand’s Guide to Courses and Certificates

A New Yacht Deckhand’s Guide to Courses and Certificates

For many, the exciting prospect of finding work on a luxury superyacht has them hunting for leads at ports and scanning billboards for job offers; often, a lack of planning and a lack of qualifications leaves them firmly on land. Yacht crew placement specialists at YPI Crew have compiled a helpful set of instructions to help you land your dream job.Follow our advice to secure your first job as a deckhand.

The yachting industry used to be pretty simple. You could maneuver your way into the industry somewhat seamlessly with few qualifications. In the past decade, however, things have changed: the yachting world has become far more regulated and far more competitive.

It was once possible to pass basic courses to easily secure a job on a yacht. Now, because of the changes, rookies with little experience in the yachting industry are strugglingto find employment. Thus, it has become very important to know which courses or certificates are essential, and which ones will increase the chances of you finding your premiere job as a super yacht deckhand.

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There arevast amounts of confusing jargon and acronyms used in the industry, which would easily overwhelm those not in the know. Allow us introduce you to the essential terms:


-STCW Basic Safety Training: Mandatory for anyone working on board large yachts over 24 meters.The STCW Basic Training is animperative starting step for all prospectivecrewmembers hoping to get their first job on a yacht. All crew agencies and captains will insist on you having this certification. The reason this training is essential is because around 80% of accidents at sea are due to human error, so the IMO introduced the STCW course to improve maritime safety.

The STCW is a 5-day course, covering the following 5 modules (these can also be taken individually):

 Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting

 Personal Survival Techniques

 Personal Safety and Social Responsibility

 First Aid/CPR

 Proficiency in Security Awareness (see Security section below)

Without the initial STCW certification, you will struggle to find work through a crew agency.

Recent changes: It used to be the STCW95, but it’s recently been updated to the STCW2010 and now includes the Security Awareness module.

Price and duration: 5 days, approx. €1200

-Seafarer Medical Certificate: Mandatory.

This certificate is not something you can easily get by befriending a local doctor. It is a medical certificate that is provided by a qualified medical practitioner, who is authorized by their country’s maritime authority. This certificate attests that you are medically able to work on a yacht. The test is quite simple and will test your hearing and sight to ensure that you are not afflictedby a medical condition that could be aggravated whenworking at sea. The certificate is not too difficult to get if you are in good health. The only conditions that do raise a problem are epilepsy, heart disease, bipolar, diabetes, and – the most common in young males, in particular – color-blindness.

An example of such a medical certificate is an ENG1. This is a seafarer medical certificate, which is issued by an MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) approved medical practitioner in the United Kingdom to work on a UK flagged yacht.

An ENG1 is a popular medical certificate in the yachting industry and many non-British crew decide to obtain an ENG1 by visiting one of the many MCA medical practitioners based around the world. Links to these recognized doctors can be found on YPI Crew’s website. An ENG 1 will also allow you to work on most non-British flagged yachts.

Price: Expect to pay around €120

-Security Awareness: Mandatory

Security on yachts is extremely important, as you will tend to have high-profile guests on board. There are potential issues with pirates and thieves. Because of this, the yachting industry has incorporated securityawareness into the most elementary level of a crewmember’s training.

*If you got your STCW before this module was introduced, then you will have to go back to a training school to do this module.

You can also take the ‘Security Awareness in Designated Security Duties’ course instead, as it is considered more relevant to the duties of yacht crew. But typically most STCW courses have a Security Awareness Module built-in.

Price: Security Awareness: €200; Security Awareness with Designated Duties: €280.

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The following are RYA courses (Royal Yachting Association), which are accredited by the MCA (Marine Coastguard Authority). See equivalent US Coastguard Courses, VHF Online Course and Exam.

VHF Radio

Operating the VHF radio safely and properly is a valuable skill to have as a crewmember. It is a legal requirement that operators are trained sufficiently, so knowing how to utilize the VHF radio will give you a huge advantage over other candidates. You can do the course online, but must sit the assessment at a training center.

Price and duration: Online course: 1 day, €50; Exam: 1 day, €130.

Powerboat II:

Highly recommended! If you could only afford one course from the stage 2 options, choose this one.

Obtaining boat handling skills and basic navigation will considerably increase your chances of being hired

Price and duration: 2 days, around €500.

PWC and PWC Instructor:

Many countries are now issuing legislation that ensures all people riding jetskis and waverunners have their own personal watercraft license. Yachts that have these types of watertoys will require a PWC instructor on board. Again, having a certification like this one will make you a more employable candidate.

PWC: 1 day course, €390; PWC Instructor: 3 days, €990

Scuba Diving:

First, you will need to start with a PADI Open Water Course. Next, you will move up to an Emergency First Response Instructor. After that, you will move onto a PADI Instructor Development Course. With these certifications you will be a prime candidate for hiring!


The ‘Approved Engine Course’ is a great one to take if you’re interested in applying for deck/engineer roles. It is alsouseful if you are thinkingabout potentially moving into engineering later. Those who are also interested in working their way up to captain, would be highly encouraged to take this course. It teaches basic diesel marine mechanics and electronics, which are very important to comprehend – at least at some level – during your career.

5 days, approx. €1000

**Again, the listed courses above are designed to make you a more attractive prospect to hiring captains. In addition to these certifications, there are more extensive sea safetyand security courses you can do as you progress throughout your yachting career. Some examples include Advanced Fire fighting, Advanced Sea Survival, Medical First Aid and ISPS Security Officer.



As you work your way up the industry ladder, further enhancing your yachting career, you will want to work towards an RYA Yachtmaster certificate. Next you will move ontoan Officer of the Watch certificate.Finally you will work towards your Masters (captains certificates). As these later optional courses are an intense (and expensive) ordeal, your career will more than compensate you for it!

*All prices vary by country and training provider and so listed pricesare a rough guide only. This guide is written from a European/MCA regulation perspective. In the US, seafarers’ certification is run through the US Coast Guard and varies considerably in the higher certificates, such as Masters.

If you wish to seek further advice or guidance on your qualifications, please clickhere. We wish you the best of luck on this exciting new adventure!



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