The Deckhand route is the most obvious path to take to – eventually - becoming a Captain. Budding deck crew should think about taking the RYA Powerboat Level II (or ICC – the international equivalent). NB If you already hold a national licence (e.g. issued by your national maritime authority e.g. AMSA, then that is fine; however, regional or localised tender driving licences (for example issued by T.A.F.E, New South Wales, Australia) are not recognised. Any watersports skills and/or qualifications will be welcome, as will any other skills or training such as carpentry, mechanics etc. Your next goal should be to gain your RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate and onwards. You can see the progression chart from Deck Crew here:

The basic certificate required for the engineering route is the AEC: Approved Engine Course 1. This MCA approved entry level course gives you theoretical knowledge and practical hands-on experience of diesel engines. Ideally you will have had some previous experience and/or a natural ability as a mechanic. It will allow you to do regular servicing and fault detection and prevention on marine engines and take a first step as Deckhand/Engineer.

The next step is the AEC 2: Approved Engine Course 2 This course forms part of the new second engineer officer qualification for small vessels less than 9,000kW and less than 3,000GT. It forms part of the required modules to enter the industry as a junior/assistant engineer, with the ability to progress through to the Small Vessel Second Engineer Officer qualification.

The full progression chart for engineers can be found here:

Small Vessel Engineer (inc yachts)

Engineer Officer Unlimited Certification

Engineer Officer Unlimited Certification – Officer Cadet route

For candidates who already have a qualification from another country, you can apply for a Certificate of Equivalency from the MCA here or call the CEC helpline on +44 23 8032 9254. Having a CEC will be of use to you as a large proportion of yachts fly the Red Ensign, as a flag of convenience, and therefore come under the auspices of the MCA.

ETOs There has been an STCW ‘Electro-Technical Officer’ certificate of competency for some time now, but a recent PYA survey results showed that there is a need for improvement in this important area. The ETO certificate of competency involves a similar level of training as the unlimited deck and engineering certificates, and is currently only available as a full-time programme at UK nautical colleges. A recent PYA survey has revealed a demand for an improvement in the way yacht crew are Electro-Technically trained.

What has been proposed is a non-mandatory qualification based on the existing ‘Electro-Technical Rating’ certificate, with ‘add-ons’ to make the training relevant to yachts in areas such as audio visual equipment, yacht cybersecurity etc. and it has been suggested that the qualification take the form of a “Superyacht Electro-Technical Endorsement” on an existing MCA deck or engineering CoC. This is currently under consideration by the MCA.

Cooking on yachts is very demanding but equally rewarding! You will be catering for guests who are used to eating Michelin star food all over the world and who may also have very particular requirements for their diet. You may come into the yachting industry with a high level of experience and training but please do be aware of the different challenges of cooking on a yacht: provisioning, storage, long voyages, the demand for a myriad of different cuisines whether dictated by medical, religious or cultural requirements or simply the latest fashion – you could face them all in one charter trip!

Be aware also that MLC 2006 has changed the requirements for Chefs working on commercially operated yachts cooking for 10 or more crew; you can read up on information for chefs working on UK registered yachts on the MCA website: MSN 1846(M) and MIN 513 (M) or go to the PYA (Professional Yachting Association) website for slightly easier reading. Different flag states may have slightly different requirements for yacht chef qualifications so please check with flag state of the yacht you will be joining to make sure you comply. Some training establishments for this course are listed below. For courses where you are please use Google.


South Tyneside College in Newcastle – see website

Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking, Surrey – see website


Secrets De Cuisine (Bluewater) in Antibes – see website


City of Glasgow College – see website

Dumfries College – see website

Entier in Aberdeen – see website

Please note, all crew who are involved with processing food in the galley, including those who assist in food preparation or food handling (this might include interior crew), are required to be qualified with food hygiene and food safety (as per Annex 1 in MGN 1846). For the Food Hygiene and Food Safety qualifications (Annex 1) please refer to MIN 513 for recognized courses. Please ensure the correct relevant qualification number is on the certificate issued. Online food safety certificates are NOT accepted. You will need to take a formal assessment under exam conditions within an approved training centre. The list of accepted qualifications can be found in the MIN 531.

If you have a degree or diploma in hotel management then you are off to a good start; or perhaps you have worked in high end hotels or resorts and have gained good hospitality and service experience. If not, it’s not the end of the world either. You will learn the ropes on a yacht working under the guidance of an experienced Chief Steward/ess. However, you will need to demonstrate during your interview that you are ready and willing to learn and take instruction and that you have stamina (for the long hours!) and a good, team-spirited attitude. There are of course plenty of stewardess courses available which you can take prior to joining the industry to help you prepare for your first season. Following any training as recommended by the PYA under their G.U.E.S.T. (Guidelines for Unified Excellence in Service Training) will put you on the right path. Otherwise, ask your local florist if you can work/volunteer in her shop to pick up some tips or do some evening work in a silver service restaurant or for an events company, practice your fine needlework and gen up on laundering fine fabrics: all of this will put you in good stead for your new career.

Training Establishments

For a list of recognised and accredited trainers in all fields click HERE