Careers in Superyachting

• 4 juillet 2010 • Comments (1)

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The super-yachting industry is one of the fastest growing in terms of employment opportunities for enthusiastic, focused and motivated people from all walks of life. Yachting journalist Rupert Holmes looks at how to get started in a career in this dynamic sector.

Staggering growth in the number of superyachts worldwide has created an ongoing recruitment crisis in the yachting industry. Unbelievably, the world’s richest people can’t find enough people to crew their luxury yachts. Main-stream media has picked up on this recently, including the BBC: “Despite the obvious perks, there is a global shortage of the deckhands, engineers, silver-service stewards and gourmet chefs needed to run the world’s 4,000-strong fleet of super-yachts,” reported the corporation’s Kate Hunt, adding: “Demand for the ultimate status symbol is at an all-time high …but the vessels’ captains and owners are struggling to find the crew they need.”These difficulties are perhaps not surprising given the rapid rise of the size of the global fleet of superyachts. More than 900 new vessels of over 24m (80ft) are in build, or scheduled for construction, according to Showboats International 2008 Global Order Book. That’s an 18 percent increase on the total of 777 yachts last year, and nearly four times the orders a decade earlier.

The industry’s recruiting problems are certainly not the result of a lack of benefits and rewards for appropriately qualified crew members. Remuneration and rewards for crew are generous, and living expenses are all-found, including accommodation on board, food, clothing, and travel, with up to two flights home a year, so day-to-day expenditure can be minimal.

According to leading crew agency, Fort Lauderdale, Florida based Luxury Yacht Group, deck hands (the role in which most crew enter the industry) earn $2,000-3,800 per month. Interior staff are equally in demand, with a steward/ess starting on $2,500 per month, rising to around $4,500 for experienced second steward/ess with around three years’ experience.

There’s a particularly acute shortage of engineers, so salaries are high – junior engineers on a large yacht can start on $3,000 per month, rising to $5,000 or more for those with 1-3 years’ experience.

Although working as a deck hand is a short-term job for some, perhaps during a gap year, the superyacht industry offers excellent long-term career prospects. Crew are often well qualified academically, many having degrees. An Officer of the Watch with five year’s experience in the industry can expect to make $5–7,000 on a 150-250ft yacht. Captains earn $4-8,000 per month on relatively small yachts of 60-100ft, while those in charge of 160-250ft vessels can double that figure.

Surely there must be a catch?

Not at all, but it’s not the kind of work that appeals to everyone. “It’s important that people thinking of a career in the industry have an appreciation of what both the work, and the life on board is actually like,” says UKSA’s Emma Baggett. Having worked in the industry for two decades, including 12 years in a variety of roles aboard superyachts, classic yachts and tall ships, she fully understands the rigors of life on board, as well as the qualities captains look for in prospective crew.
“It’s easy to see the glamorous aspects of the life, but the reality is that there are times when it’s really hard work, with long hours and no personal space. You live with maybe 10 strangers in very small cabins, and the captain inspects your cabin every morning, so there’s no escape.”

When the boat’s in port most crew will work a five-day week, but once guests are on board that goes out the window – you work until the work is finished, even if that means long hours seven days a week. “You must be prepared for the intensity of the work – with guests on board. It’s full-on. Someone who has worked in a top hotel, or as a PA in a big company, will probably be up to speed working with these kinds of people. But if you’ve not done so it can come as a big shock.”

With guests on board, the two days off each week you miss gradually accrues, and is added to the four weeks’ paid holiday crew typically receive each year. When charterers are on board crews are paid a 10 per cent bonus, in addition to the substantial tips they receive.

“The ability to earn really serious money is one of the attractions of the work,” says Baggett. “If you want to get on the property ladder it’s a great way to get some serious money in the bank.” In addition, as well as working hard you will also play hard, and as you’re working you’ll visit some amazing places. And when you’re there, you have money in your pocket, so you can spend as freely as the guests.

Is it for me?

Above all, you need to be someone with a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and be a positive thinker. Someone who likes a challenge, doesn’t want a 9-5 lifestyle and who’s looking for something different.

The ideal age bracket for setting out on a career in the industry is 20-35, although it’s also possible for those who are older or younger to break in. “Captains can be nervous about taking an 18-year-old on, but they would certainly consider someone who already has a track record of being involved and engaged with life.” Service industry skills are highly valued in the industry, so if you’ve worked part-time in a bar or restaurant it’s helpful, and any professional or Services background is popular.

Depending on the job you’re looking to get into, there is a cut-off point in terms of getting into the superyacht industry at about age 35. It is possible to get past that if you have the right background, but its much more of a challenge. “Having said that we’ve placed 38 year old firefighters and paramedics as deck hands, because they’ve been able to prove to captains that they have the energy and enthusiasm that’s needed and are happy to work alongside 18-year-olds,” says Baggett. “And once in, you can carry on until you’re 60.”

Superyacht crew training

All superyacht crew must have STCW95 certification – the statutory international safety requirements that comply with the 1995 amendment of the International Maritime Organisation’s Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for seafarers. Taken over a total of five days, this covers Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities, Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting, Personal Survival Techniques and Elementary First Aid, but does not prepare people for a career in the industry in any other way.

Training beyond this level therefore helps to give new crew a huge headstart in the industry, makes it easier to get and perform well in that all-important first job. UKSA, started training professional crew almost 20 years ago, as a response to difficulties the charity’s founder, MFI retail magnate Noel Lister, had recruiting crew for his own superyacht Whirlwind lX. More than 4,000 UKSA graduates now work in all parts of the world, and the organisation has become one of the most influential training establishments in the industry worldwide.
Six key training schemes, ranging from four weeks’ duration to a three-year foundation degree, are tailored to the needs of those wanting to work on superyachts, whether as crew, or working towards senior positions, right up to captain. All cover a great deal of knowledge in addition to the basic requirements of STCW95 certification:

Essential Marine Hospitality – a four-week course including cookery skills, high-class guest care and style of service. Students are introduced to life afloat with an RYA Competent Crew course and are taught to drive RIBs and other small powercraft.

Crew Training – a comprehensive six-week programme aimed primarily at those aged 18-25 who want to secure work as a deckhand. Includes RYA Day Skipper, RIB driving, yacht maintenance and other vital crewing content.

Professional Yacht Engineer – 10 weeks of training as a springboard for a career as an engineer, leading to the MCA’s AEC (Approved Engine Certificate) award, plus training up to the level required for MEOL (Marine Engine Operators License).

Commercial Yachtmaster – 12 weeks of training as a springboard for a career sailing vessels under 24m, for employment opportunities in flotilla, charter, deliveries and instruction.

Motor Yacht Skipper Training – 12 weeks, focused for work on motor yachts. Includes a commercially endorsed RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore (Power) certificate, a high level of marine engineering and yacht maintenance content. Sign off elements of the MCA Officer of the Watch Training Log.

Ocean Graduate – 23 weeks covering full training towards MCA Master 200gt, RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Ocean, AEC engineering, plus motor yacht RYA Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper or Yachtmaster, depending on level of existing motor yacht experience, if any.

Cadetship with Foundation Degree – a three-year programme combining formal study both on shore and at sea with periods of paid work experience in the industry. The ultimate training for those aged 18-25 who are serious about a successful long-term career in the superyacht industry.

If you would like to know more about a career in superyachting, contact UKSA and request their training prospectus, or ask for information about their monthly careers seminars.

Source : careers in sport

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