Yacht / SV Engineer Training Overview

Although there are different training routes and licensing authorities/countries under which engineers may qualify to work on superyachts, a common, broadly accepted route is the MCA Engineer Small Vessel Training Route. The MCA recently changed its engineering qualification structure in order to simplify the number and level of qualifications across the industry. They have pulled together pre-existing qualifications, leading to certificates of competency (CoC) restricted to yachts (and other small vessels) only. This single generic qualification is now referred to as "Engineer Officer Small Vessel Certificate of Competency".

Please consult a recognized training provider before booking any training courses and view the "Engineer Officer Small Vessel of Competency" Marine Information note, found on the MCA website.

Find info, requirements and links to yacht engineer training centres for:

Caucasian Male Superyacht Engineer working on the engine room, inspecting the generator with checklist folder and pen in his hand

Junior / Assistant Engineer:

  • An STCW: EVERY crew member onboard must hold a valid STCW
  • An ENG1 Medical Certificate: EVERY crew member onboard must hold a valid ENG1
  • AEC 1: The Approved Engine Course 1 is an entry-level qualification for the MCA engineering training schedule and is regarded as the first step on the ladder. It is generally a 5-day / 30-hour course that aims to provide candidates with practical basic hands-on training and theoretical knowledge of diesel engines. The main intention of this course is to teach the knowledge to serve in an ENTRY LEVEL capacity in the engineering department or for a crew member primarily working in another department to assist with engineering functions, for example, a deck/engineer. Holding an AEC certificate will allow you to be a chief engineer on a yacht over 24m and less than 200 Gross Tons or act as an assistant engineer on vessels over 200 GT up to 60NM from a safe haven.
  • AEC 2:  The Approved Engine Course II follows on from AEC I knowledge. It contains a more practical element when compared to the AEC I. This course has been designed so that engineering qualifications are transferable between different industry sectors such as yachts, workboats, tugs, fishing vessels and so on and there will no longer be offshore limits.

The AEC is your gateway ticket into becoming an engineer, it is, therefore, essential to hold this qualification, gain sea time and work on your training record book (TRB) in order to progress in the engine room.

Becoming a 2nd Engineer:

There are three routes to obtaining a 2nd Engineer Officer Small Vessel Certificate of Competency’ (Previously known as Y4):

Standard Route:

This standard route benefits those who study through an accepted route of education involving MSQ (Maritime Studies Qualifications) modules. Completion of these will result in a Diploma in Maritime Studies: Small Vessel Engineer’. This route is extremely beneficial to superyacht engineers because of the reduced sea time required and because some of the syllabi can be completed on-board.

In order to follow this route, you must:

Experienced Seafarer Route:

This route is for existing seafarers serving on small vessels. You will not be required to complete the Diploma in Maritime Studies: Small Vessel Engineer, however you will need to complete a preparatory college course and SQA written examinations.

To be eligible to register for a study programme you must meet the following requirements:

Requirements / Notice Eligibility to sit MCA Oral Exam:

In addition to the above, candidates must complete the following in order to be issued with a Notice of Eligibility (NOE) to sit an MCA oral examination:
  • Additional 11 months’ seagoing on a vessel of 350 kW (must include a minimum of 6 months' seagoing service engaged in watchkeeping or UMS duties)
  • 2 weeks MCA-approved initial Workshop Skills Training
  • A further 2 weeks seagoing service on vessels of at least 350 kW
    2 weeks of MCA-approved additional Workshop Skills Training.
  • Complete the SV Training Record Book (TRB) during your seagoing service.

Certificate of Competency (Coc):

In addition to completing all of the experienced seafarer route requirements above, the candidate must:

  1. Complete and pass the following courses:

2. Hold the applicable ancillary and safety course certificates listed in section 5:

- All STCW Basic Training Certificates
- Advanced Fire Fighting
- Proficiency in Medical First Aid
- Human Element, Leadership and Management (HELM Operational Level)

3. Hold a valid ENG1 Medical or ENG1 Medical Equivalent Certificate
4. Pass the MCA oral examination for Second Engineer Officers on Small Vessels less than 9000 kW, less than 3000 GT, unlimited area, III/2 (syllabus available online, go to www.gov.uk and search “Small Vessel Oral Examination Syllabus”)

Alternative Route: (For Graduate Engineers:)

This route is for those candidates who hold a relevant engineering degree/diploma/apprenticeship. These qualifications should be sent to an MCA-approved training provider who will analyze their relevance and explain what the individual should do in order to obtain a 2nd Engineer Officer Small Vessel CoC.

More information on the types of Graduate and Apprenticeship holders that qualify for this training route can be found in section 3.5 of the MIN 524 Notice.

If you are deemed eligible to enter into this programme you will need to apply directly to an MCA-approved nautical college. In order to find an appropriate college, search www.gov.uk for “MCA-approved nautical colleges".

In order to gain the Certificate of Competency you must:

Chief Engineer Officer < 3000kW & 500GT

In order to qualify for the issue of this Certificate of Competency you must meet the following requirements:

Chief Engineer SV <3000 GT & <9,000kW

  1. 24 months of seagoing service which must include:12 months as an SV Second Engineer or SV Chief Engineer while holding the applicable STCW Convention regulation III/2 Certificate of Competency:

- 6 months of sea service on 350 kW vessels
6 months seagoing service on vessels 750 kW. (greater or equal to kW provided)

  1. Complete the MCA-approved modules and pass the corresponding exams for:
  2. Complete either:a) MCA-approved modules and pass the corresponding written examinations for:General Engineering Science I & General Engineering Science II (exemptions may apply for candidates holding appropriate engineering degree)
    The Diploma in Maritime Studies: Small Vessel and the Diploma in Maritime Studies: Small Vessel Chief Engineer
  3. Hold the required Ancillary and Safety Course Certificates:
  4. Pass the MCA oral examination for Chief Engineer Officer, less than 9,000 kW, less than 3,000 GT, unlimited area, STCW Reg III/3


Alternative Routes to Become a Yacht Engineer:

The above method is the new MCA-approved and advised route to become a YACHT engineer, there are however other options available to you:

Experienced Marine Engineers: Marine engineers with qualifications for larger vessels, such as commercial tankers, container vessels, dredgers etc. or those with merchant navy tickets are usually able to work on yachts with these tickets. It is important to contact the MCA who will review these qualifications and ascertain a plan of action for you.

USCG: It is also possible to qualify as a yacht engineer through the United States Coast Guard route, again different flag states will have different requirements and it is advisable to contact the MCA for any further advice or information.