This is a very broad question and will differ greatly from one individual to another but reading through this will give you a general idea of the savings required and the costs involved when joining the yachting industry.
The costs of starting a career in super yachting:
Firstly, there is the cost of courses; there are compulsory courses, recommended courses and some additional courses that may help differentiate you from the rest.
- STCW: The STCW is a basic safety training course and is compulsory for all crew members and seafarers across all maritime industries, without it you simply cannot work on a yacht. Costs vary greatly in different countries:
- USA: The average cost in the US is +/- $900.
- Europe: The cost varies greatly across Europe, in France and Spain, the STCW will cost +/- €1200 but in Poland for example, it is only PLN 1000 which equates to approximately €230.
- South Africa: The average cost in SA is R6000-R7000.
- United Kingdom: The average cost in the U.K. is £1000.
- Australia/NZ: The average costs is AUD $2100.
- Asia: The STCW basic training in ASIA equates to USD $550-850.
CLICK HERE For a list of MCA-approved training schools offering the STCW basic training course around the world.
- ENG1 Medical: The cost of an ENG1 Medical Examination is quite standardised around the world and will cost you approximately €100 in Europe, $110 in USA and R1500-R2000 in South Africa. Please confirm the rates with the respective medical centre as these are merely guidelines. CLICK HERE for a list of every MCA-approved ENG1 Medical Examiner in the world (as of April 2018).
- Food Safety & Hygiene – Level 2 (Interior & Galley crew): The Food safety & Hygiene is not a compulsory course, but it may as well be. You will need to hold this certificate if you will be handling any food onboard any MLC compliant vessel and it is therefore very important for Stews, Chefs and Crew Cooks. The Food Safety & Hygiene Level 2 is a 1-day course and will cost approximately $200 in USA and €280 in Europe. CLICK HERE for a list of training schools offering the Food Safety & Hygiene Level 2 course around the world.
- Powerboat Level 2: For deck crew, this course is a necessity, without it you will be unable to drive tenders and are virtually unemployable. It is also very useful for other crew, especially chefs. It is a 2 or 3-day course and costs between $350-700 in the US, €300-700 Euro in Europe and R4500-R7000 in South Africa. CLICK HERE for a list of training schools offering the Powerboat Level 2 course around the world.
- Approved Engine Course 1: This course offers a basic introduction to engineering, it is essential for any aspiring Engineers or for deck crew wanting to double up with engine room duties. The AEC is a 5-day course and will cost you about $1000-1300 in the US, €1000 in Europe and approximately R12000-15000 in South Africa. CLICK HERE for a list of training schools around the world offering the AEC 1 course.
Additional Courses: There are many other courses available to crew joining the industry, these courses all vary in cost and it is up to the individual to prioritise which they need and decide what they can and can’t afford.
You will also need to take into consideration the cost of the flight to your chosen ‘Yachting hub’ where you will locate yourself whilst looking for work. Many countries, depending on your nationality may require a return flight, to show that you will be departing their country by a certain date, it is strongly advisable to buy a flexi ticket in this case, to avoid losing your flight altogether.
Depending on your nationality and destination you may require visas to enter certain countries, these visas will vary greatly in price depending on location, nationality and length but they can be costly. A b1/b2 visa for the US will cost about USD $160 and a Schengen visa for Europe will cost approximately €60-120.
The price of crew accommodation will vary greatly depending on where you are located, however, it is usually a significant cost. In Fort Lauderdale, crew accommodation is likely to cost anywhere between $160 and $280 a week, in Antibes you will struggle to find anywhere for less than €220 a week and in Palma de Mallorca prices vary from €100-200 a week.
It is very difficult to know how much money you will need to put aside for accommodation expenses as there is no set amount of time to find a job, some people find a job in a day, where as some take 6 months or longer.
A good, general rule is that you should have enough money available to comfortably cover one month’s rent. This will give you enough of a cushion if you are struggling to find work as you should be able to find some daywork/temporary work in this time which will help bring money in and pay the rent. Two days of daywork, should at least cover a week’s rent.
CLICK HERE to see a list of suitable Crew Accommodation across various yachting 'hubs' around the world.
Again, your daily expenses (food, transport and some drinking money) will vary greatly from place to place. In Antibes you will need about €15-25, in Palma de Mallorca €12-20 may be enough and in Fort Lauderdale about $20-30 per day is usually required. It is likely you will require transport if based in Fort Lauderdale, as it is much larger, and the Marinas are very spread out, avoid taxis at all costs as they are very expensive in Florida, catching buses, riding bikes, renting a scooter and using Uber (although still expensive) are all better alternatives.
Total Cost of Becoming a 'Yachtie':
It is very difficult to give an accurate estimate, as there are so many variables and costs vary greatly across the world. However, in addition to flights, you will require a MINIMUM of $3000 to pay for your compulsory courses, visas, accommodation and day-day expenses for the first month. This is the bare minimum and should give you enough time to find some daywork (without daywork you will need a lot more money). It is important to understand that this is just a guideline, some yacht crew spend over $15000 on courses before joining the industry.
The good news is that once you get a job you will be able to quickly recoup the costs; yacht salaries are usually over €2500/$3000 a month for ‘green’ crew and you have no expenses whilst living onboard.