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What courses do you really need to get a job on a yacht?

We get asked this question every day, here is my advice which is based on my 15 years working on Superyachts progressing from Deckhand to Captain as well as the last 9 years as the owner of YOA yacht crew an international crew recruitment agency.

Deckhands – RYA PB2, RYA PWC, VHF, STCW10 with PDSD, Seafarer Medical

One can argue that RYA PWC and VHF aren’t technically required, however any deckhand that does not have the PWC certificate will not be allowed to operate a PWC and is in a less advantageous position as 99% of yachts have jet-skis on board. The same holds true for the VHF license.

Stewardesses – STCW10 with PDSD, Food Safety level 2, Seafarer Medical

I do advise crew to complete a deckhand or stewardess course in addition to the above if the budget allows as this will give them a wholistic view on how to go about finding work, representing themselves to agents and captains, insight into what a deckhand/stewardess is expected to do on a day-to-day basis as well as many other useful tools.


It is no secret that many schools in South Africa have a tendency to oversell unnecessary courses in order to make a profit. You do not need to spend in excess of R 50 000 to ‘get qualified’ just to get a job.

I am a firm believer in doing as much as possible in order to set yourself apart from the competition but exploiting people based on their lack of knowledge about what is actually required does not sit well.

Don’t take my word for it, take a quick look at a websites like , and you will see the qualifications that are asked for by these employers for yourself. Use this info to make an educated decision about which courses you can and can’t do and budget accordingly. Please bear in mind that your budget needs to include visa, flight and accommodation costs, something that is also rarely mentioned. There is no point spending all your money on courses if you can only afford to spend a week in the South of France looking for work.

A stewardess does not need a VHF license just as much as a deckhand does not need a barista certificate. Of course, it may come in handy at some point and can be a ‘nice to have’ but is certainly not a ‘have to have’. It will not be the deciding factor as to whether or not you will be employed.

“Layering” qualifications is all good and well, but without a doubt the deciding factor as to whether a crew member is hired or not will be based on their attitude, mindset, work ethic and personality.

Yes, you do need to tick the boxes as far as qualifications go and safe manning requirements on yachts do stipulate at the very least STCW and a Seafarer medical certificate but having all the qualifications in the world will not help you if you have a poor attitude and work ethic.

Employers often prefer deck crew with a Yacht-master qualifications and stewardesses with prior service and hospitality experience but failing these, it is important to remember that your ‘soft skills’ and hobbies often play a very large if not larger role.

Some of the many skills/qualifications our clients ask us to find crew with can include, but are not limited to:



Water sports experience, carpentry knowledge, personal training qualifications, drone pilots, videographers, IT skills, diving qualifications, sailing experience, security training, lifeguards


Masseuse training, beauty/makeup artists, yoga instructors, butlers, housekeepers, florists, nannies, au pairs, tutors

The list goes on..


You can add value in multiple ways, do a little research, ask friends currently in the industry and make an educated decision when choosing where to train as well as what courses to take.

View your training as an investment, it is the equivalent of a university degree in some cases and the return on your investment can be immense. You will be expected to be competent when you are employed, that certificate must mean something and needs to be backed by the relevant knowledge.

I hope this helps, you are welcome to contact us if you would like more information before you make a decision.

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