Success means not settling for minimum course requirements

Jun 27, 2016 by Capt. Brian Luke

Every year many young men and women like you arrive in Ft. Lauderdale with hopes of becoming a crewmember onboard a superyacht. The industry is very attractive to those on the outside looking in, and it’s pretty darn good to those of us on the inside looking out.
But for those on the outside, the passage that allows them entry into a crew position can sometimes seem needlessly elusive.
Routinely, I see many potential crewmembers get their Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Basic Safety Training and then, without a plan, go off looking for a position as a crewmember. Like anything in life, planning is the key to finding success in the search for a position onboard a superyacht. What follows is a simple and proven plan to help new crewmembers land their first dream job.
Get the right training for the position you are seeking – this is key. For all yacht crew this means first completing STCW Basic Safety Training including Proficiency in Designated Security Duties. As a yacht crewmember, it is imperative that you receive the Proficiency in Designated Security Duties certificate. Every crewmember will most likely have a designated duty onboard the vessel, so Security Awareness alone is not the correct certificate for those working on superyachts.
Once you have completed STCW Basic Safety Training and Proficiency in Designated Security Duties, you now have the minimum qualifications required to work as an entry-level professional in the industry. Consider however, that starting with the minimum is not really a very effective plan for success. However, adding to these minimum required qualifications is mandatory if you wish to rise above your peers vying for the same positions. As an example, if you desire to become an engineer, then I would recommend taking both the Approved Engineering Course (AEC) and Powerboat Level II. This will give you an edge over others without these qualifications, making you more attractive as a crewmember to a prospective vessel. If you wish to work the interior as a stewardess, I would recommend adding the PYA G.U.E.S.T. Level I program, and potentially Powerboat Level II as well. More stewardesses are getting the Powerboat Level II qualification because they are being utilized more often in roles needing these skills. As a deckhand, it is imperative that you add Powerboat Level II, and I also highly recommend some form of high quality Deck Week training.
The Entry-Level Deckhand training should give you the basic skills needed to work on the deck of a superyacht. This course must include varnishing, fiberglass care, brightwork, line handling, knot tying, basic winch operation, and similar skills necessary for you to be a proficient deckhand.
Once you have completed this training, it is time to find a position onboard a yacht. Having the appropriate skills and certifications will give you confidence when interviewing. Before you head out however, you need to build a great CV with a high quality professional picture. Research other yachting CVs first.
Use a format that closely resembles the high quality CVs that you find. Too many potential crew use their own CV format that does not necessarily match what our industry is looking for. Find a high quality yacht CV that you can mimic. Never use a selfie photograph. And I recommend having a yacht in your portrait background.
Continue to train, develop your skills and work the docks appropriately dressed with a quality CV.

Capt. Brian Luke is chief operations officer for International Crew Training in Ft. Lauderdale. Contact him through and