Essential Deckhand Qualifications:
Entry-level deckhand courses and qualifications are essential to your success in the industry. Obtaining your first job as a deckhand is difficult, it is a fiercely competed position. Without experience, it is difficult to differentiate yourself from every other aspiring deckhand. It is therefore essential to gain experience through course training and to obtain as many qualifications available to you.
Below is a list of courses you can take as an aspiring deckhand with little or no experience:
STCW 2010 Basic training
In order for you to legally obtain a job on a superyacht, ALL crew members have to be STCW certified, no matter their role.
STCW is the abbreviation for Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers. The STCW needs to be refreshed every five years and is offered in most countries worldwide.
The STCW ensures that all crew are competent and willing to engage in safety and survival operations that one may encounter while working at sea.
Powerboat Level 2:
As an aspiring deckhand, this course is a necessity, without it you will be unable to drive the tenders and are virtually unemployable. A powerboat level II is a 2-day course that teaches the skills and knowledge required to drive and operate a powerboat (tender) less than 10m.
You do not need any prior qualifications or experience and the course focuses on the basics of driving a powerboat. It teaches skills such as; close quarter handling, recovering a man overboard, driving on the plane and very basic collision regulations.
Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD)
Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD) is a course that must be undertaken by all seafarers and security personnel who are engaged onboard ship, who have been assigned designated duties under the Ship's Security Plan. Although it is the Proficiency in security awareness that is the mandatory course, we strongly advise new crew members to complete the PDSD course instead as a large number of yachts are seeing it as a requirement for all of their crew.
RYA Personal Watercraft Certificate (PWC)
As a deckhand seeking your first job in the industry it is advisable to complete PWC training. It is a one-day course that trains you to drive and operate a personal watercraft, also known as a jetski or wave runner. No previous experience or qualifications are required. It is an entry level course that can help boost your CV and improve your chances of landing your first deckhand position.
Superyacht Deckhand Course:
Many training schools around the world offer introductory deckhand courses. These aim to teach some of the basic skills required to be a deckhand, such as; sanding, painting, varnishing, scrubbing decks and washing down. These courses are useful for teaching basic deck maintenance skills and preparing deck crew for their first job. However, they are not recognised qualifications and these skills are learned ‘day working’ or even on the job.
As a deckhand seeking your first job in the yachting industry it is advisable to complete a VHF course. This 1-day course will enable use of the VHF radio equipment on board and no previous experience is required. It is an essential qualification to progress on deck. The sooner one becomes familiar with this equipment the better it will be for their career. It is therefore a good course for green deckhands to have. Additionally, qualifications like this reflect long-term industry commitment.
This course is not essential as an aspiring deckhand but can be beneficial. It provides a good introduction into seamanship, watchkeeping and collision regulations. It is a 5-day theory-based course and adds value to your CV. It provides good fundamental knowledge which are useful on board and for future courses.
Certain training schools around the world will also make it possible for ‘green crew’ to complete courses and qualifications that usually require industry experience and/or previous qualifications. This is made possible by gaining the necessary sea time and miles through the training school. It is often referred to as the ‘zero-hero’ method and is most commonly used for the Yacht Master qualification.
Scuba diving experience and qualifications are beneficial in helping land a job as a deckhand. Dive Instructor and Dive Master courses considerably improve the chances of getting a job, however, Open Water and Advanced diving qualifications are also beneficial and will improve your CV.
If you would like to be better equipped for large power boat driving during the day and night, then the advanced power boat course is strongly recommended. With a RYA/MCA Advanced Powerboat Commercial Endorsement, license holders are able to drive an MCA coded boat up to 24m in length or 80 gross tons up to 20 miles away from shore or a safe haven
Although the powerboat level two is a great introductory course to tender driving, it has been identified by the RYA and PYA that there are a few areas that are not covered by the course. The RYA tender operators certificate will result in greater competence in areas such as night navigation, GPS plotting, vessel drop offs as well as high speed manoeuvring to name a few.