Are you looking for a career as a yacht engineer?
Wilsonhalligan have compiled a breakdown of the qualifications and requirements needed to start out as a yacht engineer. As well as insight into the job day-to-day and how to effectively land your dream position.
What does a Yacht Engineer do?
It depends on the type, size and usage of the yacht. But, the Engineering department are responsible for the operation, maintenance and repair of all:
- as well as in some cases, structural systems and appendages found on board a modern yacht and superyacht.
Skills needed to be a successful Yacht Engineer:
The role requires a keen eye for planning and organisation. Planned maintenance (carrying out preventative and explorative maintenance before failures occur) is a very important aspect in modern marine engineering. Skills in project management, resource allocation and time management are very desirable, in addition to extensive and diverse technical ability. Many yachts employ software programmers to aid a methodical approach to planned and preventative maintenance, as well as to record failures and repairs as they occur. As well as keeping an accurate inventory of spares held on board. Being able to efficiently use such software programs efficiently would be highly advantageous. Examples of these asset management programs are AMOS and IDEA.
Challenges as an Engineer Onboard a Yacht:
Engineering on a superyacht has particular challenges. Some yachts (particularly charter yachts) can be very busy, meaning a very fast paced and demanding environment. High expectations from owners and guests in regards to service and entertainment also puts a keen onus on engineering departments. They are expected to keep all systems working to minimise or eliminate down time and negative impacts on the itinerary. Of course, when the yacht is at sea, many of these systems are safety critical. Break downs and failures offshore bring a whole new set of challenges and risks.
Which qualifications do I need to get in to Superyacht engineering?
There are really two main entry routes in to yacht and superyacht engineering. They follow two distinct certification pathways – entering from commercial shipping, or working through yacht-based certification routes.
Firstly, the Commercial Shipping Route of Training for Yacht Engineering:
The Commercial Shipping route most commonly begins with a sponsored cadetship with a shipping company. Who, are working in partnership with maritime training providers. Candidates must apply to one of a number of cadetship schemes. And, if accepted will undertake usually 3 years of study and work experience on the sponsoring companies’ vessels. Culminating very often in the Officer of the Watch (Engineering) or ‘EOOW’ ticket. And, usually either an HND or BSc Degree in Marine Engineering or similar.
Once the EOOW certificate is in hand, candidates can be considered suitably qualified. As well as experienced for junior engineering officer roles on large yachts. A common first yachting job for EOOW qualified candidates is 3rd Engineer. The main advantage of a cadetship is that seatime is gained quickly and on vessels over 3000 GT. It also allows for a ticket which is ‘unlimited’ by tonnage as all yacht engineering certificates are. This opens the door to working on the world’s largest mega and superyachts.
Also, the sponsoring company pays for all courses and examinations which would be extremely expensive if self-sponsored. And, very often a small training bursary is paid on top (some as much as €11,000 / year). The biggest disadvantage is that candidates will have to commit to different types of vessels during the cadetship. These are likely to be chemical tankers or containerships. But most of the large luxury cruise ship companies also offer cadetships. Which, is in some ways closer to the yachting industry. One facilitator of maritime cadetships is the Warsash Maritime Academy – see here.
Secondly, the Yacht Certification Route of Training for Engineering:
This route is made up of 6 key certificates:
The Approved Engine Course (AEC). Often seen as the base-minimum for superyacht engineers who wish to work on yachts over 24m LOA. Usually a 4-day course covering the theory of compression-ignition (diesel) engines and includes a large amount of practical workshops. View the full syllabus for the Approved Engine Course (AEC). One common provider of AEC courses is Bluewater Yachting in Antibes – see here.
The Marine Engine Operators Licence (MEOL). This is the first certificate in the yacht route that requires sea service, specific shore based learning and an oral exam. View further details on MSN 1859 here.
Y4 Engineer. The first of what is commonly referred to as the ‘Y Tickets’. Y4 allows engineers to work as Chief Engineer on yachts between 200 and 500GT. And, up to 1500Kw in propulsive power.
Y3 Engineer. Allows engineers to work as Chief Engineer on yachts up to 3000GT and up to 3000KW in propulsive power.
Y2 Engineer. Allows engineers to work as Chief Engineer on yachts up to 3000GT and up to 6000KW in propulsive power.
Y1 Engineer. Allows engineers to work as Chief Engineer on yachts up to 3000GT and up to 9000KW in propulsive power.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have simplified the Y ticket structure however, and page 19 of MIN 524 provides a simple conversion table from Y tickets to the new standard – Small Vessel (or SV) tickets.
Some course providers are now offering yachting cadetships – one example is this one provided by the UKSA in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
How To Find a Job as a Superyacht Engineer
Once you have the relevant qualifications, then comes the time to start looking for your first position. Of course, word of mouth and personal connections made through training are a fantastic way to gain knowledge on current positions available however, also consider the following:
Dockwalking – travel to one of the main Superyacht hubs like Palma, Antibes or La Ciotat and walk the docks asking yachts if they need engineering crew. You should take a proper CV, references, and make sure you are well–presented. Be polite and prepare yourself for some face-to-face rejection. However, don‘t take things personally.
Use a reputable crew agent such as wilsonhalligan who are MLC 2006 compliant, vastly experienced and a well respected crew recruitment agency in the industry who does the dock walking for you!
We hope you find this helpful! And, we wish you luck on all your career endeavours.
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