While many people dream of hitting the lottery and buying the yacht of their dreams, for some just the freedom of working on a yacht is enough. After all, the sea, sun and the opportunity to travel the world is same no matter whether you are a deckhand or a captain. Most captains start out on smaller boats as part of a crew, slowly working their way up the ranks. Becoming a master yacht captain can be extremely lucrative, but it takes years of experience to attain the highest salary levels.
According to the Luxury Yacht Group, a premier yacht staffing company, the salary of a yacht captain depends upon the captain's years of experience, as well as the size of the yacht he is captaining. A junior captain, with more than two years experience who is piloting a boat less than 100 feet long, can expect to earn anywhere from $4,000 to $8,000 a month. A Senior Master Captain with over 10 years experience who can manage a crew on a yacht larger than 100 feet long, can earn between $8,000 and $12,000 per month.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for water transportation occupations is excellent. The demand for skilled people in the industry is growing faster than the number of people entering the job pool looking for these types of jobs. Employment in this industry is expected to grow 15 percent over the period between 2008 and 2018.
All yacht captains must be licensed and obtain Coast Guard credentials as well as credentials from the Department of Homeland Security. These credentials verify U.S. citizenship or residency status as well as that the captain has passed security screening. Captains must also pass a drug test and medical exam. Captains should also have good eyesight, strong health and good balance based on the physical demands of the job.
For individuals whose goal is to be a senior yacht captain, there are several career paths. One way is to enter a high school maritime academy. In these academies, students learn a curriculum that has been developed by the U.S. Maritime Administration. The skills learned at a maritime academy help aspiring captains to learn the skills needed to pass the written examination. Alternatively, individuals can find entry level work on a ship and learn first hand the basic training necessary to advance through ship training. For example, an individual might start out on the crew as a deckhand, then advance to a mate position, then to first mate and finally captain.