What do you need to start in the yachting industry? YPI Crew placement agency will guide you on what you need to do to secure your first job as a deckhand

Yachting has become a far more regulated industry over the last decade, meaning the ‘good old days’ of getting jobs on yachts without qualifications are at an end.

Not only that, but as the yachting industry has become extremely competitive, the basic courses are often no longer enough to secure a job. Newcomers to the yachting industry are finding it increasingly necessary to take extra training in order to win their first job as a deckhand on a luxury yacht.

Knowing which courses or certificates are compulsory, and which ones will best increase your chances of getting your first job as a superyacht deckhand, can often seem confusing. Also, all the acronyms and slang can be quite confusing.

So, our yacht crew placement team at YPI Crew have put together this guide* to help you through the new maze of yachting certification for deckhands.


STCW Basic Safety Training: Mandatory for anyone working on board large yachts over 24 meters.

The STCW Basic Training is the crucial place to start for all crew hoping to get their first job on a yacht.

ALL crew agents and captains will insist on you having this certification.

The STCW is a 5 day course with the following 5 modules (you can also take them separately)

· Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting

· Personal Survival Techniques

· Personal Safety and Social Responsibility

· First Aid/CPR

· Proficiency in Security Awareness (see Security section below)

Why is it so important? Around 80% of accidents at sea are due to human error, so the IMO introduced this STCW course to improve maritime safety (and yes, you will get used to all these acronyms after a while).

You almost certainly won’t get hired without your STCW certification. A crew agent won’t even interview you without it or add you to their database, meaning your career will die in the water before it begins.

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 is not something your local general practitioner can give you; it is a medical certificate issued by a medical practitioner, who is accredited by their country’s maritime authority, which attests that you are medically fit to work on a yacht. Your hearing and sight will be tested and the medical practitioner will want to ensure that you are not suffering from a medical condition likely to be aggravated by service at sea.

An example of such a medical certificate is an ENG1. This is a seafarer medical certificate, 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. The link to these recognized doctors can be found on our website: CLICK HERE

An ENG 1 will allow you to work on most non-British flagged yachts in the yachting industry.

Is a Medical Certificate easy to get?

This isn’t a ‘rubber-stamp’ check-up, but as long as you’re in good health, there shouldn’t be a problem.

There are a few conditions that do raise a red flag, such as epilepsy, heart disease, bipolar, diabetes, and - the most common in young males, in particular - colour-blindness.

Price: Expect to pay around € 120

Security Awareness: Mandatory

When working on yachts, you need to be very aware of security. With high profile people on board, and the threat of pirates and thieves to contend with, the yachting industry has recently evolved to incorporate security awareness into crew training.

If you got your STCW before this module was brought in, you will need to go back to a training school to do this module.

These days the STCW has a Security Awareness Module built-in, although many recommend taking the ‘Security Awareness in Designated Security Duties’ course instead, as it is considered more relevant to the duties of yacht crew.

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


The following are RYA courses (Royal Yachting Association), accredited by the MCA (Marine Coastguard Authority). See equivalent US Coastguard Courses.

VHF Online Course and Exam

Being able to properly and safely operate the VHF radio is a legal requirement, when using the equipment. You can do the course online, but must sit the assessment at a training centre.

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

Powerboat II: If you could only afford one more course, this would have to be it. Being trained in boat handling skills and basic navigation in tenders up to 10m will markedly increase your chances of being hired.

Price and duration: 2 days, around €500.

PWC and PWC Instructor:

Many countries now require that all people riding jetskis and waverunners hold a personal watercraft license, and yachts that carry these watertoys must now have a licensed PWC instructor onboard.

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

Scuba Diving: Start with your PADI Open Water Course, moving up to your Emergency First Response Instructor and onto your PADI Instructor Development Course - at which point you become a far more attractive prospect for hiring captains!

AEC- The ‘Approved Engine Course’ is a clever one to take if you’re interested in applying for deck/engineer roles or are entertaining the idea of moving into engineering later. Even those wanting to climb the deck path to captain would be well-advised to take this course, if they can afford it, as it teaches basic diesel marine mechanics and electronics, which you will need to understand, at least at some level, during your career.

5 days, approx. €1000

The above are just to get you started and increase your chances of getting your first yacht job. There is also an array of further sea safety and security courses you can do, as you progress through your yachting career, including Advanced Fire fighting, Advanced Sea Survival, Medical First Aid and ISPS Security Officer.


As you progress in your yachting career and begin to get some sea miles under your belt, you will work towards your RYA Yachtmaster, then onto your Officer of the Watch, and, finally, your Masters (captains certificates).

While these later courses are a major (and costly) undertaking, your exciting and lucrative yachting career will more than compensate you for it!

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

Thank you to YPI for providing such useful and valuable information. During my time in yachting I always found them to be really helpful and efficient whenever I needed help finding work. For more information on YPI Crew, please visit their website here