How to Get a Boat Crew Job


A crew job on a boat might consist of helping the captain navigate a sailboat carrying guests or pulling in nets on a fishing vessel. Unlike work on ships, which typically are larger cruise ships, tankers or cargo vessels, the crew on a boat usually is involved in fishing, touring, entertaining or towing. To land a crew post on a boat, use online sites that pair crews with openings, develop boating skills and network with skippers and boat owners who need your skills.

Earn Appropriate Certifications

  • You won’t need to earn the Transportation Security Administration credentials required of mariners working on ships, but you still may need to earn certifications to work on a boat that runs under state permits or guidelines. For example, in Utah, to work on a boat that carries passengers and requires permits, crew members must earn a first-aid certificate that you get from taking an American Red Cross basic first-aid course. You’ll also need to present a valid CPR card. Check with your state licensing board to find out which credentials you need in your area. You will need a state fishing permit, too, if you work on a fishing boat in any state.

Get Applicable Training

  • Most crew members on boats learn on the job, but there are steps you can take to improve your chances of landing a position on a working crew. Community colleges and technical schools, especially in cities near a coast, offer certificates and associate degrees in fishery technology, navigation, vessel operations and seamanship. You won’t need a Coast Guard-approved course unless you want to work on a large commercial fishing vessel. Take lessons in sailing or yachting to learn more about the details of the boats you hope you crew.

Walk the Docks

  • Yacht owners, tour boats and fishing vessels often prefer to hire experienced crew members, but continually are in need of extra hands on deck. Additionally, you won’t be able to use the big online crew registries without any experience. One of the best ways to get experience is to take one-day jobs as they occur. Get up early and walk the docks in the marinas where you know boats run that use crews. Ask the captain or the boat owner to give you a reference at the end of the day. Your resume will start to look much better after a season of day jobs. You also have a good chance of getting hired on permanently when you perform well during each trip.

Be Prepared to Go at Any Time

  • Once you’ve developed a resume with boating crew experience on it, distribute it to yacht owners, at boat clubs and around marinas. Very often, according to yacht management company Camper and Nicholsons, when you get a call to crew on a boat, you’re needed that day or the next. When you begin your job search, be prepared to leave on a moment’s notice.

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