How to Get a Job on a Yacht

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If you have always had a vagabond spirit, a love of the open sea and a comfort level with living out of a backpack for weeks at a time, the ideal job for you might be as a crew member on a yacht. Whether you're just looking for some fun employment during your summer break or plan to spend a lifetime answering the lure of foreign ports of call, there are a few things you need to know before you start circulating your resume at the nearest yacht harbor.

Things You'll Need

  • A cell phone
  • A current passport
  • A post office box
  • First aid/CPR certification
  • A boating license
  • Knowledge of nautical terminology
  • The ability to swim
  • Assess your interest level and time commitment in wanting to work on a yacht. Is it just to make some money for the summer? Is it to learn as much as you can about maintaining/operating a yacht so that you can one day buy one of your own? Or is it to satisfy a hunger for world travel? The amount of responsibility you want to take on will dictate the amount of training and hands-on experience you'll need to acquire in order to be considered. At a very minimum, you'll need to know how to swim, have the physical strength to do strenuous work and know what all the parts of a yacht are called so that when you're sent to the stern you won't say, "Huh?"

  • Identify unique talents you can bring to the table. The glamor of working on a luxury yacht is going to attract a lot of competition; the ones who get chosen are those who aren't just in it for a suntan and some free food. For instance, are you a skilled mechanic who can repair anything? Are you an accomplished fisherman who can teach yachting guests how to reel in a big one? Would you be able to administer first aid or CPR in an emergency? For candidates interested in foreign travel, fluency in other languages would be a major plus.

  • Take a class in boating safety. While there are several websites that allow you to do so online and at your own pace, you may want to check into whether the U.S. Coast Guard offers community services classes in your area and provide certificates upon completion of the course.

  • Acquire a boating license. While it's not mandatory you have one in order to be part of the crew, you never know when an emergency might require you to step up and take action.

  • Acquire a passport if your plans include the possibility of leaving the country. You will also need to rent or buy an international cell phone.

  • Rent a post office box. If feasible, arrange for automatic bill-paying so that you won't have to worry about late payments if you're off cruising in the Mediterranean.

  • Relocate where the jobs are. Yes, you can wistfully dream all you want about the high seas from your back porch in Kansas but it's not terribly likely someone is going to hire you. You need to be where the ports are and have a home base that's close enough to the action you can be available on a moment's notice.

  • Introduce yourself to the local harbormaster and let her know what kind of position you're looking for. It also wouldn't hurt to drop off your resume at some of the facilities that sell yachts. If you know of anyone who belongs to the local yacht club, ask if they'd mind floating your name to their fellow yacht enthusiasts.

  • Subscribe to yachting trade publications; their classified ads often contain announcements of yacht owners who are looking for crew members for extended trips abroad.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep a journal of your adventures. It will make wonderful reading in the future or maybe even lend itself to magazine articles or a book.
  • Take plenty of sunscreen; you're going to be spending a lot of time outdoors.
  • Pack light, preferably clothes that don't wrinkle and that can be rinsed out between wearings.
  • As envious as your family and friends will be that you're off sailing around the world on a yacht, it goes without saying that they're also going to be concerned about your safety. Always make sure that at least one of them knows where you're going and make a point to check in regularly.
  • The captain's word in any dispute is final.
  • The close quarters of a yacht--even a large one--don't allow room for prima donnas. Do the work that is expected of you, be pleasant to everyone on board and pay strict attention to details.
  • Photo Credit Photo by Christina Hamlett
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