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How to Become a Yacht Crew Member: The Ultimate Guide

Few jobs allow for travel around the world. Being a yacht crew member gives you the chance to sail the oceans and includes potential tax-free salaries and expense-free living. Yachts travel to some of the most beautiful and exotic locations. They offer their crew the ability to explore, meet new people, and enjoy unique experiences.

Getting a position on a vessel is a competitive, coveted opportunity. From entry-level to trained professionals, the jobs are varied and require extensive preparation and training.

Yacht Crew Responsibilities

Before determining that your ambition is to work on a yacht, you’ll want to understand the kind of responsibilities involved. A luxury yacht is certainly enjoyable for the guests. While it does offer the crew an incredible opportunity to travel, it comes with lots of hard work and a great deal of responsibility.

Life on a Yacht

As part of a yacht crew, you’ll serve and work around wealthy, influential individuals and their families. You must be the best at what you do; the expectation is that you will deliver world-class service. 

The hours are long and include late nights and early mornings. You will more than likely be bunking with your crewmates in shared cabins. Not everyone is built for close accommodations like that, so it’s important to know what you’re able to live with. 

The incredible chance to embark on the adventure of a lifetime makes yacht life a coveted opportunity.

Daily Operations as a Crew Member

A yacht crew is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the yacht. Your specific position will determine your duties, ranging from caring for the crew to preparing food for meals as a chef. Some roles involve serving food as a butler or stewardess/steward. You might also work closely with yacht maintenance as a captain or deck crew.

Overall, no matter which position you sign up for, being part of a crew means serving with exceptional professionalism, optimism, and quality.

Requirements For Becoming A Yacht Crew Member

The yacht crew is the backbone of the yachting experience. You’ll need to go through a training program and jump through a few hoops to become a crew member.

Here is a list of the requirements you’ll need to meet:

  • STCW. STCW stands for standards of training, certification, and watchkeeping for seafarers. You can complete this training program to become certified as a yacht crew member. 
  • Visitor Visa. You’ll be required to obtain a temporary, non-immigrant visa that allows you to travel for business.
  • ENG1 Medical Certificate. You must have an ENG1 medical certificate to ensure you are physically fit enough to work at sea.

Specified Education and Training

Beyond basic training, you’ll need to decide which specific position you’ll want to apply for so you can begin your specialized education. This can include (but is not limited to):

  • Deckhand training. This training will teach you the basics of operating a yacht, from navigational watch duties to seamanship and chartwork. 
  • Captain training. Minimum requirements for a yacht captain include three to five years as a chief officer/mate, five or more years of experience working on larger yachts, and licensing. 
  • Steward/stewardess. A steward/stewardess is an entry-level position on a yacht, which means that it’s a gateway to a career at sea. Serving a vital role, stewards and stewardesses have to have a knack for service and hospitality while demonstrating a strong work ethic.

Yacht Crew Member Career Paths

There are numerous career paths available to you as a yacht crew member.


The yacht captain is responsible for maintaining the safety of all aboard the yacht. All yacht and crew members fall under his command and responsibility. The captain’s job is to sail the yacht within guidelines and ensure the trip goes smoothly. 

First Officer/Mate

This position is second-in-command on the yacht, reporting only to the captain. Usually, a first mate is responsible for running the deck operations and being in charge of security, safety, and anything to do with emergencies.


The yacht chef is expected to be talented and reliable when providing quality meals for the guests and crew on board.


The yacht bosun works closely with the deckhands and ensures things are running smoothly in day-to-day operations. They are in charge of the deck supplies and have extensive knowledge of maintaining the yacht. 

Chief Engineer/Engineer

A chief engineer supervises all the other engineers. They’re responsible for repairing the machinery and systems onboard as a team. 

Chief Steward/Stewardess

This position manages the interior team on the yacht. This includes guest services, cleaning, laundry, and the yacht’s inventory and crew uniforms. They are also responsible for arranging parties and other guest activities. 


The purser takes care of the vessel’s interior and all financial matters onboard. Usually, a purser is only needed on larger yachts because there is so much to manage. The chief steward/stewardess will handle things if the yacht is smaller. 


This entry-level position is a great way to get your foot in the door. It allows you to gather the experience and skills you need to climb the yacht career ladder. In this position, you’ll report to the chief steward/stewardess, maintain the yacht’s interior, and see to guests’ comfort and customer service. 


A deckhand is another entry-level position that will help you start gaining the experience you need to advance your career at sea. In this role, you’ll be part of the team responsible for maintaining the yacht’s exterior and taking care of operations on deck.

Get Started on Your Yacht Career Today

A career at sea can be highly rewarding and adventurous, especially for those looking to travel and experience exotic locations. Obtaining a position on a yacht crew is challenging, but it can be an incredibly exciting and fulfilling career path for those who choose to live this extraordinary life. 

Northrop and Johnson is a leading authority in the yachting industry. Our experienced team can guide you through every step in the process of getting your yacht crew career started.