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How To Become A Superyacht Engineer

Thinking about pursuing a career as a Superyacht Engineer? We show you how…

We frequently receive emails from students asking us, “How do I become a Superyacht Engineer?” “Are my trade skills transferable?” “What yacht training must I complete?” and “What qualifications do I need?“. In this article, we break down these questions and explain exactly what steps you need to follow in order to become a super yacht engineer.

What is a Superyacht Engineer?

The crucial part of any yacht engineer job description is maintaining the mechanical and electrical operations of the yacht. The duties of an engineer range from maintaining and servicing generators, jet skis and powerboats to replacing oil filters, repairing water makers, monitoring air conditioning, AV, IT and even unblocking toilets. Whether you are new to the industry, or have worked on land as a plumber, carpenter or tradesman, anyone can become a super yacht engineer, provided they have completed the necessary courses.

The Engineering Department onboard a super yacht is quickly becoming one of the most desirable departments to work due to the rotation packages as well as the transferable skills land-based skills such as plumbing and carpentry . Senior Engineers are highly respected and are of a similar rank to the Captain as the yacht is unable to manoeuvre without them.

What are the Superyacht Engineering Courses and Qualifications?

Yacht engineering qualifications were introduced in February 2001 to provide an industry standard system of certification. The system allows all those who wish to pursue engineering careers to do so, no matter what their previous training is.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), have set out the basic course progression you will need to follow in order to work your way up from a Junior Engineer, to Chief Engineer onboard. This involves completing the AEC, MEOL and Yacht 4, 3, 2 and 1 qualifications.

The qualifications you require include:

  • A mechanical, diesel or electrical background

  • Strong project management skills

  • Inventory maintenance experience

  • Understanding of different softwares

  • The Approved Engine Course (AEC) – the base minimum for superyacht engineers who wish to work on yachts over 24m LOA

  • The Marine Engine Operators Licence (MEOL)

  • Depending on the size of yacht you want to work on, you may need the following licenses.

  • – Yachts <200GT with up to 1500Kw in propulsive power:

  • Small Vessel Second Engineer (formerly Y4)

  • – Yachts <500GT with up to 3000Kw in propulsive power:

  • Small Vessel Chief Engineer (formerly Y3)

  • – Yachts <3000GT with up to 9000Kw in propulsive power:

  • Small Vessel Chief Engineer (formerly Y1/2)

  • or Officer of the Watch (Engineering) – usually gained from the commercial shipping industry

  • – Unlimited license:

  • Engineer Officer of the Watch – Unlimited

What is a typical yacht engineer salary?

Starting out as a 3rd or junior engineer, you can expect to earn anywhere from $3,000 to $6,500 per month, and as you move up the ranks to 2nd engineer this increases from $5,000 to $8,000.

In the top position, a chief yacht engineer salary can be anywhere between $8,500 to $13,500, depending on the size of the yacht, so if you want the big bucks then the engineering department is the way forward!

There is no average yacht engineer salary, with roles varying so much from yacht to yacht, however these figures are a guideline for what you can expect to earn. It is worth noting that obtaining your engineering qualifications takes time and is an expensive process, so be sure you are ready to commit to long hours of studying ahead. Check out our article on yachting salaries for more information.

What are the super yacht training package do you offer?

Once you have completed your STCW course and other basic safety training, you can look to expand your skill set to work on board in the super yacht industry.

We have put together an extensive Superyacht Engineering training program which is an ideal entry level introduction for those seeking to work on a yacht as an Engineer. Due to the longevity of the engineering department onboard, this is an excellent avenue to explore if you are looking for real career progression, rather than a gap year experience.

Interested in learning more?

If you are thinking about starting out as an engineer, you can read more about our Superyacht Engineer Course package.

You can complete these courses with us at Get Onboard Superyacht Academy in Cape Town. If you are interested in learning more, why not speak to one of our expert consultants who will happily answer any additional questions you may have.

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There are two basic yacht training requirements that you need to complete in order the legally be eligible to work at sea. This includes the STCW’10 basic training course the ENG 1 medical the Proficiency in Designated Security Duties. These are compulsory courses and must be completed no matter which job or position you are applying for.
STCW stands for Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping. The STCW’2010, previously referred to as STCW’95, is a compulsory requirement for any seafarer in order to be eligible for employment at sea. The STCW 2010 has replaced STCW 95 and is the new code that all seafarers working on board commercial vessels must adhere to. If you are planning on joining the superyacht industry to look for a yacht job as a stewardess, deckhand, engineer or chef, you will need to complete this STCW course. The course runs every week from our academy in Cape Town and takes 11 days to complete.
The ENG1 Medical is a basic medical certificate and is as essential as your STCW’10. It is a mandatory requirement to prove you are fit to work as a yacht crew member at sea. Only MCA-approved doctors can perform an ENG 1 medical exam. The exam takes around 1 hour to complete, and should you pass you will leave with your certificate immediately. Our facilities enable you to complete your ENG1 medical at the same premises as your STCW’10 for your ultimate convenience.
The yachting industry is predominantly a career focused on hospitality. While various skill sets may assist you in finding a job, they are not enough to fully prepare you for a job on board. You will still need to complete the correct Maritime Training to be fully equipped for a job as a Super Yacht Crew member. The following skills/ experience are beneficial: – Hospitality training, including waiters, bar tenders, event staff, hotel training, cruise liners – Au pair, nanny and child care, tutoring, child entertainment – Beauty therapists: nail technicians, hairstylists, beauty therapists – Trade skills including: carpentry, varnishing, building, plumbing, tiling, engineering – Watersports: scuba diving, wakeboarding, sailboarding, waterskiing – For Chefs: A natural ability and training/experience as a Restaurant, Estate, Hotel Chef – Personality traits: Social skills, cultured, good work ethic, good manners, well presented, self— confident, a positive attitude.
There are usually four departments onboard a super yacht including the deck department, engineering, interior and galley.
Completing your deckhand courses prior to looking for your first job, demonstrates to your employers that you are dedicated crew member that understands what is required in order to be successful as an entry level crew member in the super yacht industry. Our industry leading standard of training ensures all our candidates enter the super yacht industry. The primary duties of a deckhand are shared between the maintenance of the yacht exterior and looking after the guests. Maintenance tasks include painting, filling and fairing as well as 1- and 2-part varnishing jobs, plus all other cleaning, polishing and scrubbing duties. Guest related tasks vary from tender driving, beach set ups, water sports, jet skis, anchoring or manoeuvring of the yacht. In addition the STCW training course, any of the following courses would be considered advantageous:
  • Yachtmaster/Coastal Skipper Theory
  • Yachtmaster/Coastal Practical
  • Specialist Super Yacht Training Course (Deck Hand Training Course)
  • RYA Power Boat Level II
  • RYA Personal Watercraft Course
  • RYA Competent Crew Certificate
  • RYA Day Skipper Theory and Practical Certificates
  • RYA Radar
  • VHF Radio Operator’s License
The primary task of a Steward or Stewardess onboard is to maintain the interior or the luxury yacht to the highest standard. You will also be required to cater to the needs of yacht owners or charter guests. Service, housekeeping and laundry form the three main departments of the stewardess responsibilities. Food hygiene and safe food preparation are also a major component of working as a stewardess on a super yacht. Our stewardess training certification is run in Cape Town, South Africa. This is an entry level training course, designed for any crew member that is looking to pursue a career as as stewardess. Combining both practical and theoretical course modules, you will spend time working with actual products used onboard as well as familiarise yourself with processes for when guests are onboard. In addition the STCW training course, any of the following courses would be considered advantageous:
  • Stewardess Course
  • ENG1
  • Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD)
  • MCA Food Safety Level 2
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
Simple. Just email info@get-onboard.com explaining which course you are interested in. We will provide you with a list of available dates and our booking form. Simply return to us with your proof of payment and you place of the course is reserved.
Once you are qualified, what are the next steps to finding your first job onboard? Yacht CV’s are very different to landbased CV’s and are essential when looking for a job on a yacht.
Our courses have been created in order to best prepare our students with the correct qualification, and industry specific knowledge that would be expected of junior crew in the yachting industry. The founders of Get Onboard superyacht Academy spent over 12 years as a senior ranked crew members and so offer our candidates with the most up to date information to best prepare you for the industry. Without your STCW and ENG1 you are not legally able to work at sea, so until you have completed those requirements, finding employment will be impossible. While the other courses are not compulsory, as industry experts we feel it is in our students best interest to educate themselves as much as possible before entering the super yacht industry. We do our best to offer our students the best possible advice on courses that would be most beneficial to their career goals as well as their pockets.
Here at Get Onboard Superyacht Academy, we pride ourselves on offering our students practical and honest advice. That’s why you will never find us trying to sell your courses that won’t be specifically relevant to your department. Landing your first job while you are still in South Africa is almost impossible. The reason for this is because just like you would interview for a land based position face to face.
Day work is a great way of networking, building contacts in the industry, and most importantly finding you first super yacht job. Day work refers to when you do not have a formal contract in place with a yacht, but you help out onboard for anything from a day to several weeks. Day working is a great way for you to get a sense of different roles onboard and whether the industry is right for you. Often the Captain or senior crew member will use day work as a trial or “audition” to see who is the best fit for the crew and is the most efficient worker so it is an excellent tool to use when searching for your first job.
There are two main yachting hubs, the Mediterranean, particularly Antibes in France or Palma de Mallorca in Spain, and Fort Lauderdale or Miami in Florida. We explain the different seasons and best time of year to visit each areas in our article Best Locations To Get a Yacht Job for Time of Year.
The standard entry level salary for a junior stewardess or deckhand ranges between €2000-€2500 or $2300-$2800 per month. This amount is generally tax free, although the onus is on each crew member to check with their home county about tax obligations. Certain countries are tax exempt provided you spend more than 6 months out of the county. Check out our dedicated article on this here. We have covered all of this and much much more in our easily downloadable yachting industry guide eBook. We go into detail of where you should start your career and at which time of year. We offer yachting CV templates, a packing list, course list, accommodation and visa information. We break down the various yacht crew departments so that you can see where might be the best fit for you. We explain what dock walking is, how to get day work, salary expectations and most importantly how to secure that first job.
Working on a yacht is not all fun and games; it means spending great lengths of time away from friends and family, putting in extra-long hours as needed and living in a shared, confined space.
For many, the benefits of a yacht job outweigh the negatives. These include travelling the world, the opportunity to make and save a lot of money, making new friends for life and gaining important skills that will transfer over to many other industries.
Yachting is for anyone who loves to go out of their way to please. However, it is open to all sorts of personalities – every boat is different. Take a look at our page on what makes a great superyacht crew for more information.
The minimum age to work on a yacht is 18 years old. While there is a chance of finding work straight after school, we suggest getting some work experience before departing South Africa.
Get Onboard has partnered with some centrally located accommodation providers as well as premium backpackers. If you require accommodation for the duration of your training, just be sure to mention it in an email and we will forward the options.
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