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How Much Does a Yacht Captain Make?

The salary of a yacht captain is based on tenure, experience and licensing

Captains of luxury yachts command a base salary well into six figures. Dependent on the length of the vessel, tenure of experience, and level of licensing yacht captain salaries range from $48,000 to over $300,000.

As the length of yachts increases, the complexity of the position of captain escalates. Although the job of yacht captain is often portrayed as one of luxury and leisure, it is a career choice of vast responsibility. While the exact details of a job description vary from program to program, the captain is the CEO of a small corporation. He/she reports to the Chairman of the Board - the yacht owner.

The Luxury Yacht Group webpage presents salary guidelines. Variation within the ranges reflect license level, experience and longevity of the captain 1 .

Additional parts of the salary package include bonuses, health insurance, flight expenses, paid vacation, training and certification cost reimbursement, and uniforms. Because the position requires residency aboard the vessel 24/7 all food and sundries are routinely supplied to crew. If the yacht is available for charter, the captain will also earn tips from charter guests. The industry is unique and each vessel in it has individual programs.

An average mega yacht with 12 crew has operating expenses between four and ten million dollars. The budget is based on where the yacht is moored, whether it is available for charter, and its travel destinations. On some yachts, a management company or a part of the owner’s business network handles accounting and makes financial decisions. On other yachts, the captain manages all aspects of the budget, chooses what charters to take and where to station the boat between charters, when and where to have yard work, and all personnel decisions.

A basic list of captain job responsibilities includes:

  • Ultimate safety for passengers, crew, environment & vessel
  • Achieving owner’s objectives?
  • Crew hiring and dismissal?
  • Personnel management?
  • Shipyard/project management?
  • Legal and regulatory compliance?
  • Navigation?

Ultimate safety

The Captain holds the life of all aboard in his hands. He is also held accountable for the yacht itself and the environment. He must understand the mechanics of the boat, all electronic tools aboard, international regulatory requirements, and rules of the flag state.

Achieving owner’s objectives

Owner objectives are broad ranging. The captain is the mouthpiece for the interests of the owner. He holds the responsibility to reach outcomes which benefit the owner. The owner may simply require the captain to provide luxury service when he (she) is aboard. Some owners regularly use the vessel with family and guests, others may be aboard only occasionally. Charter periods for the vessel also factor into the objectives of the owner.

Crew hiring and dismissal

The requirements of the Marine Labor Convention (MLC) for contracting, dismissing, and managing are explicit and require strict adherence. Throughout any hiring or dismissal, the safety of the vessel and owner as well as issues of confidentiality must be assured by the captain. Identifying the best employees for the program involve a balance of certification, experience and personality.

Personnel management

Managing between 12 and 40 regular crew members aboard a mega/superyacht, day workers and seasonal hires is routine. From dive master, to stewardess, chef, and ETO, the captain must have a working knowledge of the positions and set expectations for performance. In a multi-cultural environment (both guests and crew), the example the captain sets for work ethic, responsibility, and communication optimizes yacht operations. The challenge is complicated by the close quarters of crew accommodations and the group working/living together 24/7.

Shipyard/project management

The Captain oversees issues of time and costs for routine maintenance and vessel upgrades. Knowledge of register and flag requirements are tools the captain uses to define the project, obtain quotes, and supervise the work.

Legal and regulatory

The maritime industry is dynamic. In addition to the flag state and regulatory requirements mentioned above, the captain must remain current with all Maritime Guidance Notices (MGN), Maritime Information Notes (MIN), amendments to all international marine safety codes, and product notices. A knowledge of the global differences in regulations, enforcement agencies and regional mores is critical.

Each vessel has a different business model. At a minimum, the captain is responsible for budget oversight and financial record keeping. If the owner engages a management company, the captain is the interface between the yacht and that organization.

The classic definition of a captain’s job is that of a navigator. Safely plotting a course, following the course, docking and departing from berths are all fundamental vessel handling skills. A seasoned captain has personal familiarity of cruising geographies. Despite the importance and skills required, a small percentage of a captain’s time is dedicated to task.

How does that list of responsibilities distill into the profile of a captain? It takes decades of training, hours logged, certification, and experience to reach the level of performance required to captain a mega/super yacht. In addition to each of those quantifiable requirements, elements of character and temperament differentiate captains.

  • Calm and charismatic personality?
  • Superior leadership, communication, management and diplomacy skills?
  • Excellent boat handling and navigational skills?
  • Excellent ISM and ISPS knowledge and practices?
  • Excellent maintenance, engineering and technical / troubleshooting experience?
  • Ability to remain calm and give directions in an emergency situation?
  • Organized and methodical?
  • Financial management, business acumen, management skills?
  • Languages and cultural sensitivity
  • Extensive maritime licensing

Leadership of the crew involves training, coaching and refereeing. When a captain steps into the position of leadership on a large vessel, it is understood that he has ten years (minimum) of increasing responsibility. Training and education were used during that decade to resolve situations without damage to vessel, harm of the environment, or human injury.

As manager and protector of the owner’s investment, the captain negotiates for goods and services. When issues arise, it is the captain who develops options and makes recommendations. Using the comparison to a traditional business, the CEO (captain) and the President of the Board (owner) interface on strategic decisions.

The mega yacht captain is more than just an asset manager. The captain implements owner preferences in order to assure him the best yachting experience. Once an owner has determined the style of yacht he wants to own - how, when, where they want to use vessel - costs of operating and budget generalities are defined. The ultimate goal of captain and crew is the happiness of the owner(s) and their guests. Crew is the primary factor in the owner/guest experience and in a successful program. The captain fully understands and manages the limitations of vessel and crew.

As vessels increased in length, machinery and electronics increased in complexity. In parallel with those changes, regulatory agencies and flag states requirements escalated. The requirements of International Safety Management Code (ISM) and International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS) reflect the challenges of operating a mega yacht. The captain holds responsibility for implementing all requirements aboard and remaining current with the changes made to respond to new issues within the industry.

During the last decade, the number of superyacht hulls nearly doubled. Based on the 2010 Global Order Book, the superyacht industry managed to grow even during the financial crisis of 2008. The Knight Frank Wealth Report (2016) for the decade concluded that the wealth required to maintain a yacht appears impervious to economic cycles. It does project a slight worldwide slowing of the number of ultra-high-networth individuals during the upcoming decade.

How does that economic data translate into job opportunity for yacht captains who have followed the established career path? How resilient is the opportunity during periods like the global downturn experienced in 2008?

Marcy Laturno, Director of Crew Placement & Charter Specialist at Luxury Yacht Group answered:

A long-term mega yacht captain added:

Securing a position as captain aboard mega and super yachts is competitive. Although new builds are released every year, each year there are additional individuals who have established professional credentialing and adequate experience aboard. Professional captains seek positions where they can assemble a stable crew, build longevity and establish a relationship with the yacht owner.

The position of mega/super yacht captain commands a salary which reflects the level of responsibility and the years of personal and professional development. A relatively small number of positions creates a competitive job market where longevity and experience are rewarded.

  • Luxury Yacht Group website

Engineering License Changes

Engineering License Changes

The MCA has restructured the engineering certifications. The MEOL course has been done away with, and the AEC course made mandatory and more thorough. Luxury Yacht Group explains all these changes, what engineers progressing through the ranks can do now, and how Y ticket holders can convert their licenses over to the structure.

14 Mar 2018

A Day in the life Chief

A Day in the Life Series – Chief Stewardess

For a yacht to run smoothly, it requires many working parts, and the interior department is a large component of this. The chief stewardess oversees this department and makes sure all the stewardesses onboard know what their tasks and responsibilities are. The interior department is largely in charge of the guest services whilst they are onboard, and responsible for interior maintenance of the yacht when they are not.

18 Dec 2017

Entry deck

A Day in the Life Of Series - Entry Stewardess

Joining the yachting industry is an exciting and daunting undertaking. In this two part interview we speak with Melanie about why she decided to join the superyacht industry, what her hopes and goals are, and what she has learnt so far as an entry level stewardess.

29 Nov 2017

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Windward Yachts

Yacht crew positions : Hierarchy, Missions & Salaries explained

luxury yacht captain salary

Like any well-run hotel, restaurant, or other luxury service, a crewed yacht needs organized structure and good management. Whether you’re staffing your own luxury vessel or looking for an exciting career working and traveling the world, you need to know how this structure works, and what you can expect to pay or earn and do in the various roles on board.

Every yacht is a little different, and organization may reflect the style of the captain or the demands of the owner. But the same jobs need to be done on almost every boat. Organized with ranks, heads of each division report to the Captain. It’s not a military-style organization, but there are parallels with merchant marine grades and structures.

Smaller yachts need fewer crew, and staff may wear multiple hats that cross more traditional divisions and may combine some jobs with others. Large yachts have more distinct divisions or subdivisions, with more specialization to divide tasks and manage staffing. The core skills are the same, but finding staff with the right blends to do the jobs is key. Crew with broader skills are highly sought after.

As a yacht owner, you shouldn’t have to worry about day-to-day management decisions or organizing all this. That’s why you have a captain, and it’s better to leave staffing decisions entirely up to him or her. But it’s still important to know what it is people you’re hiring do, why they’re there, and how many you need. You don’t want too many crew, or to be short-handed. An understanding of what your yacht needs helps you talk to the captain to keep your yacht running how you want it.

For those looking to break into yacht crew work, consider your skills and strengths, and what jobs appeal to you. You’ll need training before you work, and you can direct your job path through the training you seek. Your goal is a suitable position on a well-run yacht, so make yourself the most attractive candidate possible.

Yacht Work Life

luxury yacht captain salary

Working on a yacht is also living on the yacht. Crew must have a space to sleep, food, and all the basics that any employee needs. Large yachts have space reserved for crew, and owners looking for quality crew should provide good working and living conditions. Your crew takes care of you, and you should take care of them.

Depending on where a yacht operates or what flag she flies, a variety of labor laws or rules may be in effect. These requirements may be for work visas, contracts and written agreements, and compliance with merchant and ship crew treaties and laws. Be prepared to have work and non-disclosure agreements between yacht and crew, though a few yachts skip this.

Seasonal Jobs

Many yacht positions are seasonal. Year-round employment is more likely for senior crew like the captain and department heads, but not all yachts see year-round use. And some yachts may use different crew in different locales between seasonal moves.

Any job listing should give seasonal information, with geographic information, the length of the season, and the prospects for year-round positions and repeat employment.

Hours, Salaries, and Expectations

Yacht crew is a service job at its core, and every yacht owner is looking for service-oriented people who understand how to deliver a hotel-quality living and restaurant-quality fine dining. Work experience in luxury hotels and restaurants is a big plus for some jobs, and makes breaking into yacht work easier.

Yacht work can be very demanding, with periods of intense work when the owner and guests or a charter party is on board. Long days aren’t uncommon, but often balance with slack time when the boat is empty of passengers. There is always work to be done, but there’s usually a chance for time off.

Most salaries are monthly, since many positions are seasonal. Pay ranges are commensurate with experience, rank, and responsibility. Private vessels usually offer higher base pay, as charter crew can earn tips on top of their base salary. Because of the demands of the lifestyle, compensation is good and you have minimal living expenses on board.

Benefits and Time Off

Because so many jobs are seasonal and may occur in different countries and locations, benefits offered to yacht crew vary widely. But it is not uncommon for crew to be offered health and accident insurance and a flight to the vessel. Living on board, you’ll get food, rooming (usually shared), basic toiletries, uniforms, and laundry. Yachts with a longer view may offer additional training to long-term prospects.

Time off is usually linked to boat use, and may be sporadic in-season or when the boat has the owner and guests on board. There will always be some time off, but it may be between very intense work periods.

Most crew jobs have an employment contract that meets the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC). This should spell out the contract period and duration, as well as salary, leave and time off, probationary periods, repatriation policies, and any other crucial details to meet the minimum international standards of crew welfare.

This contract should also contain shipboard policies on confidentiality and non-disclosures, drug and alcohol use on board, personal hygiene expectations, interpersonal relationships, and dispute resolution. Job expectations and requirements can also be included, with specific language about roles, tasks, and cooperation between divisions.

Note that all crew agreements will explicitly prohibit drug use on board, most limit alcohol consumption and ban hard liquor on board, and many boats have policies prohibiting intimate personal crew relationships. Because the crew is living on board full time and in close quarters, rules to maintain decorum and crew harmony may be in writing.

Training & Certificates

Two key certifications are required for yacht crew. Employers look for the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers) and the ENG1 (Seafarer Medical Certificate). Insurers generally require crew to have these two certifications or the equivalent.

The ENG1 isn’t a class. It’s a medical exam to ensure that the crew is physically fit to serve at sea and has no underlying conditions that may arise far from help. It’s best for prospective crew to secure the ENG1 before investing more time and money training.

STCW is a week-long class on the basics of onboard safety. This includes hands-on modules covering personal survival, fire safety, first aid and CPR, accident prevention, and security awareness. It needs to be refreshed every five years.

Shared, Hybrid, and Crossover Jobs

Larger vessels will have more defined duties and specific areas of responsibility. But smaller yachts may want the crew to have different roles in different situations. For example, a hybrid job description may read “3rd Engineer/Steward” and describe a role in engineering when the boat is empty but on inside crew when passengers are on board.

When hiring or seeking jobs be prepared to look for creative crossover skill sets to meet the needs of the vessel.

Extra Skills and Duties

Any extra skills outside the regular duties makes crew more attractive. From stewards who can teach yoga, give massages or play cocktail piano to deck crew who know how to water ski, SCUBA dive, or fish, anything that crew can bring to enhance the passenger experience adds value to the employee.

If you’re looking for a position, list the skills you’d be comfortable using. If a vessel owner is looking for something specific, spell it out and figure out how that special duty fits into the employee work day.

The Four Main Divisions

luxury yacht captain salary

Most yacht crews break into four primary divisions which group related tasks and responsibilities together. While the grouping sounds like it’s by section of the boat, they’re really more functional. For example, stewards (Interior) will definitely serve meals, whether they’re in the main dining room or out on deck. Deckhands (deck) are going to be involved in painting, sanding, and varnish jobs anywhere on the boat.

The deck crew handles most of the exterior operations of the yacht, and runs it. Deck hands and crew keep the boat looking clean and shiny, and handling most vessel operations. This includes driving and operating the yacht, navigation, running all launches and ship’s craft, handling lines, and all maintenance and painting, washing, and shining.

2-Interior (or Inside)

Inside crew are primarily the stewards and housekeepers. Larger vessels will have a dedicated housekeeping staff separate from the stewards, but smaller vessels may not.

Stewards keep the interior clean, do all housekeeping, laundry, food and beverage service, cabin preparation, and anything else needed for the comfort of the passengers.


Below decks, the engineering department ensures the safe and smooth running of all the ship’s machinery and electronics. Engineers are engine and systems specialists, and there will usually be a dedicated electronics expert. Most engineer jobs require professional training and certification.

Fine dining is a hallmark of the yachting experience, and a full-time galley crew prepares all meals for passengers and crew. The head chef plans the menus and provisions the boat, while junior chefs assist the head chef with meal preparation and keeping the galley spotless.

Yacht Job and Department Details

luxury yacht captain salary

Departments are all organized in a hierarchy, with a department head reporting to the Captain. The clear chain of command makes for smooth operations, with all communications going up and down ranks. Junior staff will occasionally take instructions from other divisions as all crew is expected to help as needed. A captain or department head may organize staff differently, so reporting structures listed are guidelines only.

All salary ranges are monthly figures and are ranges based on yacht size and crew experience. Senior jobs on larger yachts have more responsibility than the same job title on yachts with smaller crews. Experienced crew are very desirable and can expect more pay for their positions.

Listed responsibilities are not exhaustive, and different yachts may allocate some jobs to different positions.

Read also: The yacht charter experience ladder

The Captain

luxury yacht captain salary

The captain of the vessel is the overall decision maker for the yacht in all situations, including the safety of the vessel. The owner should leave the Captain responsible for operational decisions about hiring and staff and operating the ship. To become a captain requires years of experience and training, and a broad set of skills including yacht operations, personnel management, budgeting and finance. The captain works directly with the owner and owner’s representative, if the captain is not also acting as the representative.

On an organization chart, the Captain is usually placed in the deck division, but the Captain is always the senior-most crew on the yacht and all division heads report to the Captain.

Responsibilities include:

  • Responsible for all navigation and running the yacht.
  • Senior decision maker on all crew hiring.
  • Manage repairs, refits, and yard work.
  • Manage budgets and accounting. On larger yachts, this task ends more on the Purser, but the captain is always responsible.
  • Ensure all paperwork, clearances, and legal requirements are completed.
  • Primary contact with the owner or charter parties.

Reports to: The yacht owner

Salary Range: $6,000 to $22,000

The deckhands handle all the outside responsibilities of the ship, including cleaning and maintenance of the yacht and all the ship’s vessels and toys on board. Deck crew will have significant contact with passengers in this role, operating launches and delivering guests to and from shore and handling the toys.

All deck crew have watch responsibilities on passage, and daily responsibilities keeping the yacht pristine and clean. They will also do line handling and secure the yacht.

Deck department : Chief Mate/First Officer

The Chief Mate or First Officer is the second in command of the vessel, and left in charge when the Captain is not on board. The first mate has the requisite skills to stand in for the captain and run the yacht if needed and usually acts as the division head of the deck team.

The seamanship skills needed are similar to the Captain’s position.

  • Primary safety officer for the yacht and all passengers and crew.
  • Supervise and manage all operations on deck.
  • Bridge watches on passage.
  • Passage planning and navigation.

There may be additional mates on larger vessels, these 2nd, 3rd, etc. mates have similar responsibilities on rotation. But the first mate is senior and always second in command.

Reports to: Captain

Salary Range: $4,000 to $9,500 (First mate)

Second and more junior mates may earn $2,000 to $4,000

Deck department : Bosun

luxury yacht captain salary

The Bosun is the senior deckhand and manages the junior hands on board. This will usually be the most experienced hand on board.

  • Organizing all operations on deck.
  • Coordinating the use, storing and launching of the ship’s boats, toys, and equipment.
  • Managing the passerelle, watching passenger safety.
  • Contact point for guest service on boats, toys, and trips to shore.

Reports to: First mate

Salary Range: $3,000 to $5,000

Deck department : Deckhands

luxury yacht captain salary

Deckhands are constantly busy with maintenance, cleaning, polishing, and assisting guests as needed. They will assist other departments as needed or given special duties.

  • Daily cleaning of the yacht’s exterior.
  • Painting, varnishing, polishing.
  • Line handling.
  • Launching and operating dinghies and tenders.
  • Repairs and carpentry.
  • Helping guests as needed – everything from handling baggage and gear to embarking and disembarking.

Reports to: Bosun

Salary range: $1,300 to $3,000

Though every position on a yacht is service-oriented, the interior or inside crew provides the primary customer service. They will interact the most with the passengers daily, and they’re directly responsible for the quality of their experience on board.

Interior department : the Purser

luxury yacht captain salary

The purser is the chief financial officer of the yacht and handles all the financial operations on board. Accounting, purchasing, payroll and hiring, and all money matters end up with the Purser. This is a senior staff position, and may be the interior department head. Smaller yachts may eliminate the purser’s job and add it to the captain’s and other senior staff duties.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Accounting and bookkeeping for all financial transactions.
  • Human resources and payroll.
  • Handling logistics for all departments related to purchasing.
  • Managing contracts.
  • Event coordination, including off yacht bookings and payments.
  • Primary administration of the boat’s business paperwork.
  • Inventory and supply management.

Salary Range: $4,000 to $8,000

Interior department : The Chief Steward/ess

luxury yacht captain salary

The chief steward or stewardess has primary responsibility for all service roles inside. Food and drink service, cabin preparation, and anything to do with helping the passengers be more comfortable and enjoy their stay. The chief steward will be inside crew with several years of experience.

The chief steward manages the interior staff, setting and enforcing vessel service standards. The chief steward ensures the crew delivers a five-star hospitality experience.

Chief Steward Responsibilities:

  • Scheduling and training junior crew for meal and drink service and cabin preparation.
  • Primary contact with guests for meals and drinks.
  • Sommelier and wine service.
  • Coordinate with the galley for meals and presentation.
  • Decorate the interior, from flower arrangement to table settings.
  • Arrange onshore activities and outings.

Reports to: Captain or Purser, depending on the yacht

Salary Range: $4,000 to $8,500


The stewards and stewardesses are the primary guest service staff. They will work closely with guests and passengers, and have daily contact with them as they meet most of their needs while on board.

Steward Responsibilities:

  • Food and drink service.
  • Room preparation and turndown service.
  • Cleaning, polishing, housekeeping, and inside maintenance.
  • Cabin detailing.
  • Laundry, pressing, and folding.
  • Help with outings, trips, debarkations.

Reports to: Chief Steward

Salary Range: $1,500 to $4,500


luxury yacht captain salary

Larger yachts may have a dedicated housekeeping and laundry staff. This will be part of the inside crew, under either the purser or the head steward. There may be a senior housekeeper, if there are more than one housekeeping crew on board.

Responsibilities are the cleaning and laundry portions of the steward’s job, and a laundry steward may spend most of her time inside the ship’s laundry.

An experienced Head of Housekeeping may earn from $4,500 to $7,000, while a Laundry Steward typically earns from $2,500 to $3,500.


Food service requirements on any yacht are high. Whether it’s a privately owned vessel or a charter, the expectations are always for top tier food service, with a variety of meals planned for the requirements of every passenger. Chefs and cooks prepare all meals on board for passengers and crew, but sometimes other interior crew may help with prep work or cleanup.

Smaller yachts have smaller galley crews, but the largest vessels may have an executive chef and several sous chefs. All chef positions require formal culinary training and experience, but cook positions are often entry level. Promotion from cook to chef is unusual without additional training.

Galley department : the Head / Executive Chef

luxury yacht captain salary

On larger yachts, an Executive Chef will run the entire galley with the help of sous chefs and cooks. With an Executive Chef, there’s an expectation that the food and menus will be on a level with Michelin star-rated restaurants.

The executive chef brings a thorough understanding of food preparation and presentation, and moves food preparation past creative up to artistic. Job responsibilities are similar to a chef, but the job demands and the required experience and education are much higher.

Salary range: $7,000 to $11,000

luxury yacht captain salary

The chef has overall responsibility for all meals on the yacht, from provisioning in remote places to hygiene and good safety. If there’s only one chef, she’s the head of the galley crew. Finding the best provisions in far away locations and making the best of local food availability is a major part of the job.

  • Planning a delicious and varied menu for passengers.
  • Sourcing all food and arranging transport to the yacht.
  • Maintaining and operating within the galley budget.
  • Preparing passenger meals with professional presentation and style.
  • Cleaning and maintaining galley and galley equipment.
  • Deliver menus and meals on time, while running an organized and spotless galley.

Galley department : Sous Chef

The sous chefs assist the chef in all aspects of running the galley, and may have independent assignments to plan and guest and crew meals. While not primarily responsible for provisioning, the sous chef will help with food selection, menu preparation, and planning. A sous chef must have formal culinary training.

Reports to: Head chef

Salary Range: $3,500 – $6,000.

luxury yacht captain salary

Galley department : The Cook

Cooks may be entry-level positions or experienced, but do not require formal gastronomy education. They will assist the chef and sous chefs, cooking meals and dishes for guests and crew, helping with provisioning, and keeping the galley neat.

  • Assist with provisioning and buying high-quality food from local sources.
  • Follow all food handling and safety guidelines.
  • Assist the head chef as needed, taking direction and guidance.
  • Prepare guest and crew meals as required.
  • Staying on top of galley inventories and supplies.

Salary Range: $2,500 to $3,500


luxury yacht captain salary

The engineering department keeps the yacht and all its systems working. Whether it’s the engines, electronics, air conditioning, or the plumbing – it’s up to engineering to keep it running.

There is considerable overlap with commercial shipping in the engineering field, as many of the same skills apply. And there is a broader range of qualifications and grades based on the size and power of the vessel. Job ratings may be set by required experience based on tonnage of ship or power of engines, with corresponding levels of pay and responsibility.

Unlike commercial shipping, engineers may get involved in other aspects of running the yacht, like helping with docking and water sports with mechanical toys.

Engineering certifications, training, ratings, experience and licensing are critical to hiring competent engineers, and for engineering crew it’s an important facet of career advancement. This is important for Chief and 2nd Engineers, which are often broken out by MCA (U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency) rating or other international equivalent.

MCA ratings for engineers Commercial and Private Yachts over 24m are:

Y4: Less than 200 Gross Tons and less than 1,500 kW engine power Y3: Less than 500 GT and 3,000 kW Y2: Less than 3,000 GT and 3,000 kW Y1: Less than 3,000 GT and 9,000 kW

There is also an unlimited rating for merchant vessels larger than the Y1 category. For discussing salary and responsibilities, we will include all ratings in one position description, but pay scales with the size of the yacht and any required higher ratings.

Chief Engineer

The chief engineer manages all aspects of keeping the yacht and its systems running. The chief engineer manages all the engineering staff, and directs all maintenance, repairs, troubleshooting and upgrades. This is a management position, but requires extensive hands-on technical experience and knowledge. Chief engineers on large yachts hold an MCA Y1 or Y2, smaller boats will have a lower rated chief and a smaller staff. Check  Jooble.org  to find abroad marine engineer vacancies.

  • Provisioning, shopping, and stocking.
  • Preparing passenger and crew meals.
  • Following instructions and cooking under the direction of others.
  • Galley cleaning.
  • Follow food safety and storage procedures.
  • Food pre-preparation.

Salary Range: $6,000 to $15,000

2nd Engineer

The second engineer is also a highly skilled position requiring a rating or license and several years of experience. This senior level engineer also needs knowledge of how to troubleshoot and maintain all yacht systems.

  • Maintain and manage all engineering operations.
  • Hire, train and supervise all engineers.
  • Project manage all upgrades and retrofits, including managing budgets, contracts, and suppliers.
  • Coordinate maintenance schedule for the entire yacht around the usage and seasonal schedules.
  • Maintain costs and accounting for engineering operations.
  • Design and handle all safety operations.
  • Set and maintain standards for operations and cleanliness in the engine room.

Reports to: Chief engineer

Salary Range: $5,500 – $10,000

OOW (Officer of the Watch) Engineer

The OOW is a junior engineering position, but still licensed. There are two categories of OOW – MEOL (Marine Engine Operator License) and the more junior AEC (Assistant Engine Course). The overall responsibilities are similar, working to support the senior engineers and handle independent assignments. The AEC rating is entry level for licensed crew, but has training and certification.

  • Support the chief in all projects.
  • Maintain a clean, safe engine room.
  • Perform all maintenance, troubleshooting and repair tasks as needed.
  • Support motorized water sports.
  • Occasionally assist with other vessel operations, like line handling.

Reports to: Chief Engineer

Salary Range, MEOL: $4,500 to $6,000 Salary Range, AEC: $2,500 to $3,500

Electronics/Technology Officer (ETO)

The ETO takes responsibility for all audio-visual and information technology on board. Ensuring passengers have access to the internet, movies, television, and music is a primary responsibility. This position carries a fair amount of passenger interaction, and an ETO needs good troubleshooting skills to go with customer service skills.

  • Ensure all audio/visual and entertainment systems are always available for passengers.
  • Assist passengers with personal technology and ship systems as needed.
  • Conduct regular maintenance and upgrades of the network, information, and A/V systems around passenger schedules.
  • Assist other engineers as needed, especially with electronic systems.
  • Contribute as needed with other departments for boat and passenger operations.

Salary Range: $4,000 to $9,000

Junior Engineer

This is a lower or entry level position for someone with engineering skills but without formal licensing or certification. The junior engineer will help with safety and cleanliness, and assist in any engineering tasks as needed. The ability to solve problems and fix things opens this spot for anyone capable and willing to do the job.

  • Help with cleaning, maintenance, and safety functions.
  • Help anywhere needed on the yacht.
  • Assist senior engineers as needed, taking direction and following instructions exactly.
  • Constantly develop skills.


Whether you are a yacht owner or considering entering this dynamic industry with an established and reliable crew, it is essential to have an understanding of the yacht’s hierarchical structure, mission priorities, and salary expectations. By doing your research on the complexity of yachting before hiring your team, you can confidently select the right group of experienced and qualified professionals for your needs. Staying up-to-date on top industry trends and knowing the capabilities of each type of yacht crew position will enable you to make sound decisions that support a safe and cost-effective journey. With quality personnel at your helm, you can cruise unhindered in luxury and explore new destinations with peace of mind.

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How Much Does a Yacht Captain Earn?

captain epaulette

Lauren Beck is the former editor of Dockwalk and was with the publication from 2006 to 2023. At 13, she left South Africa aboard a 34-foot sailing boat with her family and ended up in St. Maarten for six years. Before college, she worked as crew for a year, and then cut her journalistic teeth at Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal online. She loves traveling, reading, tennis, and rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

Whether you are a captain on the lookout for new opportunities or a deckhand working your way up the career ladder, the Dockwalk Salary Survey is a helpful tool for knowing where you stand on pay. With the 2021 results now in, we find out how much yacht captains are earning around the world…

The Dockwalk Salary Survey

Our annual survey usually attracts the most responses from captains, and this year was no different with a total of 476 responses. Out of those, 336 shared their salary information. The average length of time those 476 captains have worked as captains was 14 years, with an average of 19 years spent in the industry. Most of the respondents — 89.3 percent to be precise — work on motor yachts and the vast majority — 76 percent — were based on private yachts.

It used to be that captains could count on approximately $1,000 per foot per year. But in reality, it's not so straightforward. As larger boats grow increasingly more complex, the requirements for a captain are generally much higher in terms of experience and licenses, and so captains on bigger vessels will naturally yield higher salaries. 

But, as they say, size isn’t everything and the same applies when it comes to compensation. Other factors such as time in the industry, whether the boat is chartered, and if the position is rotational, are also considered. Longevity, for example, is another important factor that is likely to determine pay; some experienced captains on relatively small vessels can earn excellent money. Plus, captains are often entitled to added extras such as bonuses, health insurance, travel expenses, paid vacation, training and certification, uniform, and tips.

Yachts Between 60ft and 99ft

According to data from the 2021 Salary Survey, captains working on vessels between 60- and 99-feet were earning an average of $8,002.01 per month, with a range of $3,105 to $20,000 per month. The average monthly tips earned by captains on yachts available for charter in this range was $1,374.

Yachts Between 100ft and 139ft

Captains working aboard vessels from 100- to 139-feet may expect to earn an average of $10,108.18 per month, with a range of $$1,725 to $20,000 per month, according to Salary Survey data. The average monthly tips earned by captains on yachts available for charter in this range was $1,612. 

Yachts Between 140ft and 179ft

Numbers from this year's salary survey reported that captains on yachts 140- to 179-feet could expect to earn an average of $14,166.31 per month, with a range of $5,750 to $34,500 per month. The average monthly tips earned by captains on charter yachts in this range was $2,988.

Yachts Between 180ft and 239ft

Captains on yachts in the 180- to 239-foot size category may expect to earn $16,147.26 on average per month, with a range of $9,200 to $23,250 per month. The average monthly tips earned by captains on charter yachts within this range was $3,653.

Yachts Between 240ft and 279ft

Captains working in the 240- to 279-foot size category might expect to receive an average of $15,473.58, with a range of $7,475 to $20,125 per month. The average monthly tips earned by captains on charter yachts in this range was $1,718.

Yachts Above 280ft

In our largest size category, captains on vessels 280 feet and larger could expect to earn an average of $20,540.91 per month, with a range of $9,200 to $32,000 per month. As there are not as many large vessels of this size, these jobs are usually reserved for highly skilled and experienced captains — and their pay reflects that. The average monthly tips earned by captains on charter yachts in this range was $5,600.

Captains on Rotation

Within our survey, out of all 476 captains who responded, 20.59 percent were on rotation. Rotation schedules ran the gamut from 1:1 to 4:4, and various other arrangements. Of those captains on rotation, 70 said that they were paid monthly, regardless of their rotation schedule, while 12 said they were paid for the months they worked.

Freelance Captains

Out of all the captains who responded, 58 (or 12.61 percent) were freelance when they took the survey. When we asked them to include their rates, some provided their data while others preferred not to.

According to our survey, hourly, daily, and monthly freelance rates were provided. Just one hourly rate was provided — $38 per hour. Day rates ranged from $350 to $1,680. One captain included a monthly rate of $14,560, while another specified $8,960 per month plus tax. Others included holiday day rates of $800; hourly charter rates of $75 to $100, or holiday charter rates of $100 to $150 per hour, plus gratuity.

The Female Perspective

Out of all 336 captain’s responses on vessels ranging from 10 to 150 meters, just three female respondents shared their salary figures. It shouldn’t be a surprise as female captains are a minority but are growing in number. Out of those who responded, none were freelance or on rotation.

The female captain who earns the most has been a captain for three years and has been in the industry for nine. She works on a 148-foot private motor yacht and takes home $14,000 each month.

The second female captain has held the position for 10 years and has been in the industry for 19. She works on a 17-meter private sailing yacht and takes home $3,360 each month.

The third female captain has held the position for 20 years and has been in the industry for 24. She works on a 24-meter private motor yacht and takes home $5,600 each month.

While people may look askance at talk of money and pay, it’s an important discussion to have when you’re looking to find a new job or to see how your compensation stacks up to the industry norm. In 2021, our data is surveyed from both crew and yacht agents for their salaries or their recent placement figures. In total, we had 1,060 respondents share their salary figures, plus figures from 10 crew agencies.

  • How to Get a Job as a Yacht Captain
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  • The Top Crew Jobs This Month

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What is the salary of a Captain on a superyacht? 4 May 2021

What should you be paying your Captain?

What salary can I expect as a Captain on a superyacht?

These are questions we often get asked at Quay Crew headquarters.

In this blog, the superyacht Captain salaries are revealed in our exclusive Captain recruitment survey by Quay Crew.

Captain Recruitment Specialist, Tim Clarke , reveals some very interesting findings…

The subject of what a Captain should be paid often comes up in conversation, normally with Captains, but recently I was working with the yacht owner on a large new build project and had to recruit everyone from the Captain down. I was asked “What should I pay my Captain?”. I had to advise on salary levels for the Captain position and this made me realise that there isn’t a lot of accurate information out there in the public domain.

So how much should a Captain on a superyacht get paid?

Recently I did a salary survey of Captains which went into significant detail regarding yacht size, program, leave, pay reviews, bonuses, flights and additional perks. 186 Captains responded so we had an excellent spread of data to work with. The full report is actually 41 pages long so this is just a brief summary of the most pertinent information.

Have a Captain recruitment requirement coming up or just want to see all the additional info? To receive a copy in your inbox, email  [email protected]

The breakdown of qualifications across the 186 respondents was as follows:

26% Master Unlimited

68% Master 3000gt

6% Master 500gt

Private or Charter?

58% of Captains surveyed said they work on a purely private yacht. 34% on yachts which are a mix of owner use and charter so run commercially. Only 8% work on yachts which are purely commercial / charter programs.

Monthly salary averages for Captains on a superyacht

Average monthly salary for Captains with full rotation:

Under 39m n/a

40m to 49m €12.4k approx.

50m to 59m €11.4k approx.

60m to 69m €13.3k approx.

70m to 79m €14.5k approx.

80m to 89m €16.2k approx.

90m to 99m €18.4k approx.

Over 100m €19.3k approx.

Average monthly salary for Captains who are full time:

Under 39m €10.2k Euros approx.

40m to 49m €11.9k Euros approx.

50m to 59m €15.3k Euros approx.

60m to 69m €16k Euros approx.

70m to 79m €19.2k Euros approx.

80m to 89m €22k Euros approx.

90m to 99m €25k euros approx.

Over 100m €14.5k Euros approx.

Additional Captain salary facts…

When you compare rotational and full time salaries on yachts over 60m, the full time positions average over 2k a month more. Some yachts’ Captain packages are hugely removed from the norm. For example, one 60m to 69m is found to be paying over 25k to a full rotation Captain. No yacht that responded under 39m offers rotation. 36 Captains are earning over 20k a month, the vast majority of which are on purely private yachts.

Captain Rotation

23% of Captains on yachts 40m-49m have a full rotation. This takes a big jump to 53% of yachts 50m -59m. Full rotation peaks at 83% on yachts over 100m.

The average is 63% of Captains on yachts above 50m have full rotation so 92 out of the 147 who worked on yachts from 50m to 100m up.

Captain Recruitment for Superyachts

If you are looking to recruit a Captain for your yacht and want to make sure you are accessing the best talent in the market, then give me a call on +44 7760 202610. Recently I have recruited a variety of Captains for various yachts including a 100m plus new build, a very prestigious 90m, a 60m plus new build just launched and lots more between 50m and 70m. Alternatively if you just want a chat about the Captain market and your current Captain’s compensation package, then just get in touch via phone or via my direct email .

If you are a Captain reading this then here are a couple of links to other blogs I have written which may interest you.

How to secure your dream Captain job on a superyacht

How many Captains are there?

What is the salary of a Captain on a superyacht?

About the author

How much does length of service matter in Superyacht Recruitment?

Oow unlimited: is it for me, keep up to date sign up to the quay crew newsletter.

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What is a Yacht Captain Salary?

Ian Fortey

As yachts get bigger they tend to require more crew members who are more skilled at their jobs and that includes a good yacht captain. The pay range for a yacht captain can vary greatly and for less experienced captains on smaller vessels it may start around $45,000 while it can range up to as much as $300,000 or more for very skilled captains on larger luxury yachts. 

Let’s take a look at what can affect a yacht captain’s salary and what you can expect to make (or pay) in this field.

Factors That Affect Yacht Captain’s Salary

luxury yacht captain salary

Most people feel a yacht has to be at least 60 or so feet in length before it’s considered a yacht. The longest yacht in the world is the Azzam which is just shy of 600 feet long. You can imagine that the captain of the Azzam has to deal with more than the captain of a 60 foot yacht. As such, the Azzam’s captain is probably making more money.

Size of the vessel is arguably the biggest factor in what a yacht captain gets paid. You can divide yacht sizes up into three categories as it relates to yacht captains to get a better idea of the pay involved.

I’ve included some survey data here taken from Dockwalk and this was gleaned from information provided by 476 different yacht captains to give you  a pretty good idea of how much a captain makes at every single yacht size. 

Junior Captain

A Junior Captain would be captain of the smaller yachts that rank in around 60 feet up to 100 feet. Many yachts of this size may only have one or two crew members on board to help operate them. The captain of a smaller yacht like this could expect to make perhaps $45,000 to $98,000 per year or more. Obviously this can change on a case by case basis depending on the specific duties expected of the given captain.

These smaller yachts have less involved operations and are, in general, easier to run which is why the captain of a yacht of this size would likely get paid less.

Survey data from 2021 shows that most captains working on yachts in this size range average just over $8,000 per month. On the low end of that scale were yacht captains pulling in about $3,100 a month while the highest paid make around $20,000 per month. Yacht captains can also pull in gratuities as part of the crew and that averages out to around another $1,300 per month.

luxury yacht captain salary

In the middle is a Captain of vessels that range from 100 feet all the way to 170 feet which is superyacht territory. These vessels can include a crew of several different members and will require more organization and skill to maintain and run smoothly. At this size a Captain can expect to be making anywhere from about $80,000 per year up to $180,000. 

Survey data from 2021 shows that, up to 140 feet, a superyacht captain can average about $10,100 per month. The lowest paid were making about $1,175 per month while the highest were again making around $20,000. You also pull in gratuities at this level that average just under $1,400 per month.

Yacht captains working vessels between 140 feet and about 190 feet were averaging $14,100 per month. At the low end of that scale you’re looking at $5,750 and it can go all the way up to $34,500 per month, so this is some serious money. If it’s a charter yacht, tips can reach nearly $3,000 a month as well.

Senior Master

A Senior Master is the captain of any yacht over 170 feet. This gets into megayacht territory at 200 feet and even gigayachts at 400+ feet. These captains have to be highly skill and managed not only massive crews that can include dozens of people, but a lot of more complex technology than the smaller vessels may be making use of. 

Because of the demands of this job, it’s clear that pay grades increase substantially as well which is why captains at this level can make between $140,000 and $300,000 every year. 

Survey data shows that between 180 feet and 240 feet, yacht captains had an average salary of just over $16,100 per month in 2021. That means a starting, low end salary of $9,200 per month which went all the way up to $23,250 per month. Tips closed in at just under $3,700 per month as well.

From 240 to 280 feet a yacht captain averaged just under $15,500 in 2021 which you’ll notice is oddly under the average for the next size down. The low end of the scale here paid just under $7,500 per month which is a good deal lower than the low end for slightly smaller vessels. On the high end captains were making $20,125. For whatever reason, yachts in this range just don’t pay as well as those in the 180 range, on average.

When you head to 280+ feet, the largest that the survey data was able to account for, yacht captains average about $20,500 per month. Remarkably, the low end here was $9,200 which is the same as vessels a full 100 feet shorter. However, on the high end some of these captains are making $32,000 per month. Factor in gratuities and that’s another $5,600 on average.

How Yacht Captains are Paid

luxury yacht captain salary

Most yacht captains get paid on a monthly basis. There are freelance captains who may also work under different payment terms. One such captain who responded to the survey charged $38 per hour as a flat rate. If they were chartered for a week, that would work out to $6,384 per week assuming you expect your captain to be ready for duty 24/7 on the water.

What do the Yacht Crew Members Make?

Like the captain, crew members can make more money on larger vessels and their experience in the business and time at sea can also factor in. But in general, here are some average numbers for crew salaries to put things in perspective.

First Officer

On a smaller yacht under 100 feet a first officer may earn up to about $65,000 per year. On a much larger yacht over 200 feet they could expect $100,000+

Second Mate

The bosun mate on a smaller yacht can start earning around $45,000+ per year. On a larger yacht over 200 feet this can be bumped up to well over $65,000 per year.

At the low end of the scale, on a smaller yacht a deckhand may make around $40,000 per year. However, on a much larger yacht they could potentially earn up to $65,000 per year.

Chief Engineer

A chief engineer on a small yacht may earn as much as $80,000 per year or more. On larger yachts that top 200 feet this can get closer to $150,000 per year thanks to the much more complicated machinery they need to deal with. They may also need to repair things like jet skis.

Assistant Engineer

The assistant engineer is obviously not earning what the chief does but they can still start at $45,000 per year or so. On large yachts this can reach over $85,000.

Chief Steward

The purser on a smaller yacht can make between $54,000 and $60,000. On the larger vessels this salary can increase to over $80,000.

A steward may make as much as $42,000 on some smaller yachts while that could increase to as much as $65,000 or more on larger vessels. 

A trained chef can expect $60,000 on a small yacht and that can reach well over $105,000 on larger yachts. Many larger luxury yachts also bring in Michelin starred restaurant chefs to work for limited times and these chefs can earn quite a bit more. 

On yachts up to 100 feet, a cook can look forward to making perhaps $54,000 to $60,000 per year. On the high end of the scale, a cook on a large yacht over 200 feet might make over $84,000 per year.

Motor Yacht Captains vs Sailing Yacht Captains

luxury yacht captain salary

On smaller yachts, the salary difference between sailing yachts and motor yachts captains is often negligible or non-existent. As vessel size increases, the salary of a sailing yacht captain will tend to outpace that of a motor yacht captain, sometimes by a lot. Larger sailing yachts are often harder to come by and require more specialized knowledge so a captain able to handle a 200 foot sailing yacht is rather rare. 

Jeff Bezos currently has the largest sailing yacht in the world at 416 feet while, as we said, the largest motor yacht is the Azzam at almost 600 feet. Though Bezos’ yacht has yet to hit the sea officially, we can assume her captain will be well compensated. 

The Bottom Line

Because yacht captains may perform a wide range of duties for their clients, their pay range can vary widely as well. The yachting industry is nothing if not malleable about things like duties, yacht operations and salary ranges. As long as a captain is skilled and experienced they can expect to make a decent salary regardless of the size of the vessel, but it will definitely increase considerably as the yacht size increases. As such, yacht captain salaries can range anywhere from $3,100 per month to $32,000 per month.

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My grandfather first took me fishing when I was too young to actually hold up a rod on my own. As an avid camper, hiker, and nature enthusiast I'm always looking for a new adventure.

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Yacht Captain Salary: 5 Factors Impacting Earnings and Career Growth

Introduction to mega yacht captain's pay, 5 factors impacting yacht captain salaries, career advancement and salary growth, final thoughts about the yacht captain pay, introduction to mega yacht captain’s pay.

Yacht captains usually ask us “What is the usual Yacht captain pay?” well there is no one straight answer to what a is a yacht captain salary but we will dive into it soon enough.

Here in US Chandlery we know very well that yacht captains hold a unique and prestigious position in the maritime industry, responsible for the smooth operation and navigation of luxurious vessels that traverse the world’s most captivating waters. As with any profession, the remuneration for a yacht captain’s services is influenced by a myriad of factors. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of a yacht captain’s salary, exploring the average earnings, the key determinants affecting pay scales, and the potential for career advancement.

Understanding the Average Yacht Captain Salary

As of June 26, 2023, the average salary of a yacht captain stands at an impressive $107,281. This figure reflects the compensation for captains who have a balanced combination of experience, education, and additional qualifications. However, it is essential to note that this is just an average, and the actual salary range can be quite broad, spanning from $87,000 to $228,000.

Several critical factors play a role in determining the yacht captain salary range

1. Yacht captain’s experience –  Experience is one of the most influential factors in shaping a captain’s earning potential. A seasoned yacht captain with years of successful voyages and an impeccable track record is likely to command a higher salary than someone just starting in the field.

2. Education and Certifications –  Yacht captains with advanced degrees in maritime studies, nautical science, or related fields, along with essential certifications such as a Master’s License, are more likely to earn higher salaries. These qualifications demonstrate competence and proficiency in handling the responsibilities of a yacht captain.

3. Additional Skills – Specialized skills, such as expertise in luxury hospitality, navigational technology, multilingual proficiency, and marine engineering, can significantly enhance a captain’s earning potential. Captains with a diverse skill set are sought after by yacht owners who value versatility and expertise.

4. Type and Size of Yacht –   The type and size of the yacht under a captain’s command can also impact their salary. Captains of larger, more luxurious mega yachts may earn higher compensation due to the complexity and responsibility associated with managing such vessels.

5. Geographic Location –  The geographic location of the yacht and the nature of the voyages undertaken can influence a captain’s earnings. Captains who sail in high-demand destinations or frequently traverse exclusive regions may command higher salaries.

The yacht captain profession career advancement and salary growth

1. Progression to Larger Yachts –  As a captain gains experience and expertise, they may be entrusted with the helm of larger and more opulent yachts. Managing bigger vessels often comes with higher compensation and increased prestige.

2. Promotions within the Yachting Industry – Some yacht captains may choose to transition into managerial roles within the yachting industry. These positions, such as fleet managers or yacht brokers, can offer competitive salaries and diverse career paths.

3. Reputation and Referrals –  A captain’s reputation within the industry can significantly impact their earning potential. Captains who garner positive reviews from charter guests and owners are more likely to attract high-paying opportunities through referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations.

4. Continual Professional Development –  Staying up to date with industry trends and pursuing continuous professional development can enhance a captain’s skill set and, subsequently, their market value. Investing in relevant courses and certifications can open doors to higher-paying positions.

Here is a very nice Vlog by Tristan Mortlock, definitely someone you would like to subscribe to his channel.

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The salary of a yacht captain is a reflection of their experience, education, additional skills, and the size and type of yacht they command. While the average salary for a yacht captain is currently $107,281, this figure can vary significantly based on the aforementioned factors.

For aspiring yacht captains, the key to achieving a successful and rewarding career lies in pursuing relevant education, obtaining essential certifications, and accumulating valuable experience. By constantly improving their skill set and embracing new opportunities for growth, yacht captains can chart a course towards greater financial rewards and recognition within the esteemed world of luxury yachting. 

You can look for open positions and see live position openings for yacht captain salary.

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How Much Do Yacht Captains Make? (Numbers & Examples)

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Do you love boating? The wind and the water? The smell of sunscreen and sea salt? The feel of a powerful machine beneath your hands?

If boating is your passion, you might be wondering how you can do it for a living. Well, you might be in luck.

How Much Do A Yacht Captain Make?

The captain of a yacht typically makes between $60,000 and $150,000, depending on the size of the yacht and his/her experience. On top of that, charter yacht captains will typically earn 10-15% of the price of the charter from tipping.

Here’s everything you need to know about how much a yacht captain makes.

Table of Contents

luxury yacht captain salary

How Much Money Do Yacht Captains Make?

One of the major determining factors of salary for yacht captains is the type of license you possess, the type of yacht you work on, and your level of experience.

Yacht captains often get paid a base salary. It will typically be in the size of $60,000 to $150,000.

In addition to a base salary, they can also get:

  • health insurance
  • flight expenses
  • paid vacation
  • training reimbursement

If your position requires you reside on the vessel you are also likely to be supplied with food and sundries.

Tips are often earned on yachts that are available to be chartered.

Here’s our guide to how much you should expect to earn from tipping as a crew member on a yacht .

Different Ranges of Salaries for Yacht Captains

  • If you are a captain that is operating boats that range from 60 to 100 feet, the salary range would be between $48,000 and $100,000 per year.
  • A captain who operates vessels between 100 and 130 feet, can earn a salary between $90,000 and $140,000 per year.
  • A captain who would operate a vessel that can range between 130 to over 160 feet, could earn anywhere between $120,000 and $180,000.
  • If the vessel that you operate falls between 160 to 190 feet, your salary could be between $150,000 to $210,000.
  • If you operate a vessel that is 190 feet or more you could make over $200,000 per year.

Variations to these averages can depend on factors such as owner/guest use, the qualifications that are required with the position, and the itinerary of the vessel.

How Do I Become A Yacht Captain?

After looking at the earning potential, you are probably ready to sign up! However, you cannot just get on a yacht and become the captain.

To become a yacht captain, you first need to obtain a license. There are a few different levels of Captain’s licenses and you should attend the class that will give you the highest leveled license that you can qualify for.

There are two main license types that you can get. These are the “Six-Pack Captain’s License” or the “Master License”.

The Six-Pack Captain’s License would allow you to captain a boat with up to 6 paying passengers plus crew. The vessel can only weigh 100 gross tons or less.

This license is generally used for vessels that engage in charter fishing, scuba diving, or tour cruises.

This course includes topics such as the navigational rules, navigation aids and chart plotting, electronic navigation, characteristics of weather systems, and lifesaving equipment and safety.

To qualify to get this license you need at least 360 days of documented experience in the operation of vessels with 90 of those days being within 3 years of getting the license. You also have to complete the test that is given.

Any experience that was gained before the age of 16 cannot be used.

The Master License would allow you to captain a boat with more than 6 paying passengers.

Any vessel that is authorized to carry more than 6 paying passengers requires a Master license. Boats that require this type of license can include ferry boats, harbor tour boats, whale watching vessels, and water taxis.

For the Master License, the topics include everything listed for the Six-Pack license but also includes basic seamanship skills, tides and currents, marine radio operation, pollution prevention, vessel handling skills, and emergency procedures.

Requirements for a Master License depending on which type of Master License you get.

These include:

  • Master Inland: 360 days underway experience since age 16. 90 of those days must be within 3 years of getting the license. Completion of course and test.
  • Master Inland/OUPV: 360 days underway experience since age 16. 90 of those days must be within 3 years of getting the license. 90 days must be outside the boundary lines. Completion of the course and test.
  • Master Inland/Mate N.C.: 360 days underway experience since age 16. 90 of those days must be within 3 years of getting the license. 180 days must be outside the boundary lines. Completion of the course and test.
  • Master Near Coastal: 720 days underway experience since age 16. 90 of those days must be within 3 years of getting the license. 360 days must be outside the boundary lines. Completion of the course and test.

Other Requirements Include:

  • A Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC Card).
  • You must be 19 years or older.
  • Pass a physical examination.
  • Pass a drug test.
  • CPR/First Aid Training.

In addition to your license, you can also add endorsements.

These endorsements include a towing endorsement that would allow you to assist vessels in need for a fee, or sail or auxiliary sail endorsement which would allow you to operate a sailing or auxiliary sail vessel.

These endorsements are not required but may help you find a wider variety of jobs.

You also need a captain’s license if you are choosing to be a fishing guide. A fishing guide is the captain of a fishing vessel that holds paying passengers.

What is the Work Schedule Like for a Yacht Captain?

A six-figure salary can come with hard work and high levels of responsibility. 

While a yacht owner might only utilize their vessel between 6-8 weeks a year, you will most likely work all year. 

Your average year could consist of between 6-8 weeks of work with the owner, 10-12 additional weeks of work if the vessel is chartered, and another 8-10 weeks spend moving the yacht between ports.

The job duties of a yacht captain can include:

  • The ultimate safety of the passengers, crew, environment, and vessel.
  • Following the instructions of the yacht’s owner.
  • Crew hiring and dismissal as well as general personnel management.
  • Training and coaching the rest of the crew.
  • Legal and regulatory compliance.
  • Navigation including plotting a safe course, following the plotted course, docking and departing.
  • Management of the ship’s maintenance and upgrades.
  • Management of the vessel’s finances, porting options, and other accounting.
  • Negotiating for goods and services for the vessel.

There are personality traits better fitted to this job than others.

The ideal personality traits of a captain include:

  • A calm personality especially in an emergency situation.
  • Superior leadership, communication, and management skills.
  • Diplomacy skills.
  • Organized and methodical behaviors.
  • Knowledge of other languages and cultural sensitivity.

In addition to these personality traits you should also have the following skills:

  • Boat handling and navigation skills that can come from acquiring a license.
  • International Safety Management (ISM) and International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) knowledge.
  • Maintenance and engineering/troubleshooting experience.
  • Financial management skills.
  • The proper licensing.

The captain of a yacht is more than just a manager of people and assets. They are the manager of an experience. It is the captain’s job to run the vessel according to owner preferences to ensure the best experience.

The ultimate goal of the captain and the crew should be the happiness and experience of the owner and his guests.

Once the owner of the vessel describes what type of yacht he wants to own and how, when and where they would like to use the vessel, the rest of the management is often clearly defined.

It is up to the captain to maintain these standards and stay within the boundaries set forth by the owner. After all, without an owner of the vessel, the captain would not have a job.

The captain should also concern himself with the safety of all the passengers, other vessels, the environment they are in, and the vessel itself.

How Much Money Does It Cost to Run A Yacht?

For an average mega yacht that operates with 12 crew members, your expenses for the operation could be anywhere between 4 and 10 million dollars.

This budget is based on where your yacht is moored, whether your yacht is available for charter, and where the travel destinations are.

Making these decisions can be the responsibility of a management company or can fall to the captain of the vessel.

These decisions include all aspects of the budget, what charters to take, where to station the vessel between charters, when to service the boat, and where to get it serviced when you do.

If you are intending to own a yacht and run it, in addition to the crew and the above expenses you will also be looking at spending money on food, drinks, and other amenities that are needed while on your voyage.

Overall, Yacht owning is an expensive hobby. One of the biggest expenses is the pay and benefits for the crew. 

If you work on a yacht you should have no trouble turning your passion into a prosperous career with high earning potential.

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Billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg spend six figures a year maintaining their superyachts. Here's how.

  • Superyachts  are one of the most expensive assets money can buy.
  • The true cost of ownership is even more, adding up to millions a year.
  • Here's how much it costs to own a superyacht — and what that money is going toward.

Financial advisors are quick to warn prospective owners that a boat is nothing more than a hole in the water in which to throw money. When it comes to superyachts , you'd better have bags and bags of cash.

As one luxury agent told Business Insider at the Palm Beach International Boat Show: "Buying a boat, it's a huge purchase — and nobody needs a yacht."

A superyacht, generally over 30 meters long, is one of the most expensive assets money can buy, with the largest costing more than a lot of real estate or a private jet. Billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs each spent nine figures on their megayachts.

That doesn't include operating costs. Owners should expect to pay about 10% of a yacht's new-build price each year, experts told Business Insider. That's tens of millions of dollars annually for the most luxurious boats.

"It's a small-to-medium-sized business in its own right," said Jeffrey Beneville, a senior vice president at insurance company NFP, where he specializes in consulting clients about yachts.

Unlike many smaller boats, superyachts need staff, not just a captain. Some superyachts have space for dozens of crewmembers , including a chef, engineer, and masseuse for the guests onboard. Each gets an annual salary — the highest-ranking members earn six figures — and benefits. Eric Schmidt's yacht fits a crew of 28 for a ratio of about two crewmembers per guest.

Then there's fuel, dockage fees, routine maintenance, and insurance. The latter hinges on everything from the reputation of a yacht's shipyard to where an owner wants to take it (if a vessel is taking frequent trips to the South China Sea, for example, expect to pay a higher premium). If a superyacht has a support yacht — or a support superyacht, in Bezos ' case — expect to pay another 10% of that boat's price annually.

"The cost to maintain a yacht is so high that they just think that money's getting lit on fire," Matthew Fleissig, the CEO of wealth management firm Pathstone, told BI of his clients who choose to charter rather than own.

One of his firm's clients who does own has a 23-meter yacht valued at $5.2 million. The annual cost to staff, maintain, dock, and insure the boat is $346,297, according to documentation provided to BI. The lion's share is spent on marina fees ($95,970) and maintenance work ($88,408.) While not exactly a Sunfish, that boat is too small to count as a superyacht.

At 106 meters, the Amadea, owned by a sanctioned Russian oligarch , definitely does. The $300 million yacht, which was seized in 2022 and is docked in San Diego, cost $922,000 a month to maintain, a court filing showed: $360,000 for crew salaries, $75,000 for fuel, $144,000 for insurance, $178,000 in dry-docking fees, and $165,000 for maintenance, waste removal, food for the crew, and miscellaneous expenses.

"And that's an inactive yacht that's in the water," NFP's Beneville said.

If it were operational and carrying guests, the costs would be about twice that, or between $20 million and $30 million a year, he added.

Of course, it makes more financial sense for the non-obsessives to charter, and many of Fleissig's clients do. And some owners choose to offer their yachts for charter — the most luxurious cost as much as $1 million a week — to offset the costs.

"If you charter the boat for 50 days a year, it's going to help a lot," Anders Kurtén, the CEO of brokerage firm Fraser Yachts, told BI.

Then again, the running costs don't matter as much at a certain point. "If you're worth $30 billion, it's nothing. And if you're worth $117 billion — and these are the guys we're talking about — they're in it as long as it's still enjoyable for them," Beneville said. "It's not a money thing."

luxury yacht captain salary

Watch: Why South Sea pearls are so expensive

luxury yacht captain salary

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Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) Salary in San Jose, California

Captain/pilot in command (large non-jet) salary in san jose, ca.

How much does a Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) make in San Jose, CA? The average Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) salary in San Jose, CA is $118,094 as of April 24, 2024, but the range typically falls between $106,759 and $141,383 . Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education , certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession. With more online, real-time compensation data than any other website, Salary.com helps you determine your exact pay target. 

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Job Description for Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet)

Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) ensures that trip of assigned flight (aircraft larger than 12,500 pounds at takeoff) is conducted in the safest manner possible. Possesses current airline transport certificate with necessary type ratings. Being a Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) requires a minimum of 5,000 hours of flight experience. (Copyright 2024 Salary.com)... View full job description

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luxury yacht captain salary

  • Radiologic Tech Non-Reg (PRN) Greeneville, TN Ballad Health - Greeneville, TN Radiologic Tech Non-Reg (PRN) Greeneville, TN. Job ID: 004EZ6. GREENEVILLE COMMUNITY EAST. Other Clinical - Radiology. PRN, As needed (No Schedule) - Rotat... - 1 Month Ago
  • Radiologic Tech Non-Reg (PRN) Rogersville, TN Ballad Health - Rogersville, TN Radiologic Tech Non-Reg (PRN) Rogersville, TN. Job ID: 004ERM. HAWKINS COUNTY MEMORIAL HOSPITAL. Other Clinical - Radiology. PRN, As needed (No Schedule) -... - 2 Months Ago
  • Warehouse Team Member/Non-CDL Delivery Driver Gensco - Bend, OR Gensco has an immediate opening for a Warehouse Team Member/Back Up Non-CDL Delivery Driver at our branch in Bend, Oregon. The shift time for this position... - 15 Days Ago
  • Cardiologist non-invasive Reno-Lake Tahoe Renown Health - Reno, NV Non-Invasive Cardiologist - Beautiful Reno/Lake Tahoe. Renown Health is northern Nevada’s largest not-for-profit, locally owned, integrated health network.... - 11 Months Ago

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Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) Pay Difference by Location

Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) salary varies from city to city. Compared with national average salary of Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet), the highest Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) salary is in San Francisco, CA, where the Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) salary is 25.0% above. The lowest Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) salary is in Miami, FL, where the Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) salary is 3.5% lower than national average salary.

About San Jose, California

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About San Jose, California     San Jose is located at 37°20′07″N 121°53′31″W / 37.335278°N 121.891944°W / 37.335278; -121.891944. According to the United States Census Bureau, th.... More

San Jose, California   area prices were up 2.9% from a year ago     View the Cost of Living in San Jose, California

Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) Salary in popular cities: Los Angeles ,  San Diego ,  San Francisco

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Jobs with a similar salary range to Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) : Grocery Store Director

Captain San Francisco Sailing Charters

Photo of Captain San Francisco Sailing Charters - San Francisco, CA, US.

Review Highlights

captain-san-francisco-sailing-charters-san-francisco-2 photo BoGNb6GZGIbsZQwdxs_29A

“ Captain Josh took us out for a 4 hour tour of the bay for a birthday celebration, and everyone had a blast! ” in 35 reviews

Marissa H.

“ My fiancé and I were celebrating our anniversary for the day and decided to cruise around with Josh and his dog Brody for half of the day. ” in 3 reviews

Hannah B.

“ Josh is an amazing captain who provided my fiancé and I with an unforgettable experience! ” in 3 reviews

Location & Hours

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2930 Lyon St

San Francisco, CA 94123

Lombard St & Greenwich St

Marina/Cow Hollow

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About the business.

Business owner information

Photo of Josh W.

Business Owner

Explore San Francisco from the water on a bay tour, sunset cruise, or another romantic excursion, all piloted by an experienced captain: Captain Josh Waldman. Indulge in gourmet appetizers and glasses of wine during this scenic voyage. Embark from a site in San Francisco or Sausalito, depending on your trip. Once you hop aboard this beautiful vessel, you'll sail all thew way to the Golden Gate Bridge -- an incredible sight, whether you're seeing it in full sunlight or lit up at night. Cruises from San Francisco generally take you past Alcatraz and other sites, while trips from Sausalito could offer views of Tiburon Peninsula and more. …

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Photo of Colin D.

Josh is a real find if you are wanting to learn how to wing foil. He's got five amazing ingredients that come together: 1. He has a boat. When you are learning, you'll most likely get blown down wind but he will be right by your side ready to bring you back. 2. He has a launching point out of Paradise Cay which is as good a wing foiling location as you could hope for. 3. He's a great foiler himself so he knows what he's talking about. 4. He's a great teacher. And the walkie-talkie communication allows him to keep giving you guidance while you are out on the water. 5. He's super nice, cool and enthusiastic. A relaxed, fun dude and it's a pleasure to spend time on the water with him. Working with Josh exponentially accelerates the learning curve. I highly recommend having Josh guide you in your wing for healing journey.

Photo of Karly T.

We chartered Captain Josh's yacht for my birthday and we had THE BEST TIME! Seriously, best money spent and best birthday celebration I've ever had. The boat and water were beautiful and the music set the tone for an amazing day. We even extended our trip because we didn't want it to end. Highly highly recommend!

luxury yacht captain salary

See all photos from Karly T. for Captain San Francisco Sailing Charters

Photo of Chris K.

Josh was an awesome host. Very personable and easy to talk to. Looking forward to booking with him in the future.

Photo of Lizzy G.

This boat was so much fun! We wish we went for longer! They were so easy and accommodating and offered great service. Definitely recommend the DJ, Josh!

Photo of Jimmy H.

Josh is the man. I spent two 3 hour sessions learning to wing foil with Josh out of Tiburon. These were my first ever wing foiling sessions. He's got the perfect set up -- a private spot to learn how to handle the wing, a boat to tow and support you as you learn how to ride the foil, and then easy access to some of the best winds in the bay as you put the two together. I brought my own wetsuit, but he's got all the gear a beginner would need. He was in my ear the whole time, coaching me via two way radio attached to the helmet that he provided. He's also a great teacher and is able to break down the skills you need systematically in easy to understand steps. With his tutelage, I was actually up on foil a pretty decent amount during my second session (though it wasn't pretty). If you're remotely interested in learning how to wing foil, definitely hit up Josh for a few introductory lessons. I'd recommend signing up for a bare minimum of two sessions if you're a complete beginner.

Photo of D M.

Captain Josh and the Striper were the perfect addition to our weekend plans! We had a quick getaway to SF and wanted to get out on the water. Luckily we found Josh through our hotel. We spent the afternoon on his boat and it was a blast. He took us to the Golden Gate Bridge, showed us the wind foilers, and cruised by Alcatraz. Then we just picked a spot by Oracle Park, turned off the engine and enjoyed the sun and each others' company. Josh was a really fun host and we hope to book again on our next trip.

Photo of Deepa B.

We hosted a surprise party for our friend on Josh's boat. To say we had an incredible time is an understatement. It was non-stop fun! Josh was an incredible host, his boat was lovely. Not sure why we didn't do this earlier. Originally when I booked it, it felt like a splurge, but after the experience, I'd say it was a great value given how much we enjoyed it.

luxury yacht captain salary

We celebrated my dad's 50th birthday on Captain Josh's boat and we couldn't have made a better choice! He was so accommodating, down to earth and engaging. He allowed us to bring our own food and beer and even had champagne available for purchase to toast the birthday guy! We did a two hour tour around the bay and he joked with my dad the whole time, we had a blast! The price was very reasonable and the boat was in excellent shape and clean. We will definitely do it again!

luxury yacht captain salary

See all photos from Miriam F. for Captain San Francisco Sailing Charters

Photo of Katie B.

Best money we ever spent! My mom and I surprised my grandma (and 4 others) with a 3 hour tour on the bay to celebrate her 89th birthday. The weather was beautiful. Snacks, company and destination just right. Sail speed was smooth and went with the flow. A birthday song and additional music to top it off...it was the perfect afternoon. Most of all, Captain Josh made the trip even more special with his witty personality, knowledge of the area, and his down to earth appearance! He even brought along birthday cake for the celebration. Can't wait to go again and we're telling all of our friends. P.S. We love dogs so we were happy to find the first mate, Brody, had four legs.

luxury yacht captain salary

Thank you so much for an amazing night on the bay! Captain Josh was first class. He knows how to treat his guests. He picked us up right next to our hotel in Sausalito and took us for an beautiful sunset cruise. He even poured us a nice glass of Chardonnay! I'm planning on going out again in the near future and can't wait.

39 other reviews that are not currently recommended

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    Captains of luxury yachts command a base salary well into six figures. Dependent on the length of the vessel, tenure of experience, and level of licensing yacht captain salaries range from $48,000 to over $300,000. As the length of yachts increases, the complexity of the position of captain escalates.

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    Yachts Between 140ft and 179ft. Numbers from this year's salary survey reported that captains on yachts 140- to 179-feet could expect to earn an average of $14,166.31 per month, with a range of $5,750 to $34,500 per month. The average monthly tips earned by captains on charter yachts in this range was $2,988. Yachts Between 180ft and 239ft.

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    Survey data shows that between 180 feet and 240 feet, yacht captains had an average salary of just over $16,100 per month in 2021. That means a starting, low end salary of $9,200 per month which went all the way up to $23,250 per month. Tips closed in at just under $3,700 per month as well. From 240 to 280 feet a yacht captain averaged just ...

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    The captain of a yacht typically makes between $60,000 and $150,000, depending on the size of the yacht and his/her experience. On top of that, charter yacht captains will typically earn 10-15% of the price of the charter from tipping. Here's everything you need to know about how much a yacht captain makes. Table of Contents.

  15. Yacht Crew Salaries: Are You Paying Appropriately?

    Specifically, the salaries were 7,000 to 8,000 euros ($7,600 to $8,700) vs. 3,500 to 4,000 euros ($3,800 to $4,400). Since on-deck positions range from captains to entry-level deckhands, yacht crew salaries here span a wide range. Notably, captains for 328-foot-plus (100-meter-plus) megayachts can get bonuses on top of an average 18,000 euros ...

  16. Salary: Luxury Yacht Captain (November, 2022)

    The average salary for a Luxury Yacht Captain is $69,147 per year in US. Click here to see the total pay, recent salaries shared and more!

  17. Lighthall Yacht Charters

    Our captains built the charter industry in Santa Cruz and have introduced over 1,000,000 passengers to sailing in Santa Cruz. Co-captains of Chardonnay and Chardonnay II for 15 years invite you to share their love of sailing in Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay. We offer prices everyone can afford. Sail Santa Cruz today! +1-831-429-1970.

  18. OCEAN PEARL Yacht • Fractional Ownership $5M Superyacht

    Discover the Majestic Yacht OCEAN PEARL. Step aboard the Rodriquez Yachts-built OCEAN PEARL, a breathtaking yacht completed in 2010 with a striking design by renowned architecture firm Foster + Partners.. Exceptional Performance and Specifications. The OCEAN PEARL yacht is powered by advanced Caterpillar engines, achieving a max speed of 18 knots and a smooth cruising speed of 12 knots.

  19. How Much It Costs to Own a Superyacht

    The $300 million yacht, which was seized in 2022 and is docked in San Diego, cost $922,000 a month to maintain, a court filing showed: $360,000 for crew salaries, $75,000 for fuel, $144,000 for ...

  20. Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) Salary in San Jose, CA

    How much does a Captain/Pilot in Command (Large Non-Jet) get paid in San Jose, CA? Get a free salary report with salary range, bonus, and benefits information.

  21. Private Luxury Yacht Captain Salaries

    Average salaries for Private Luxury Yacht Captain: $68,750. Private salary trends based on salaries posted anonymously by Private employees.

  22. Captain San Francisco Sailing Charters

    73 reviews and 152 photos of CAPTAIN SAN FRANCISCO SAILING CHARTERS "Captain Josh took us out to watch the America's Cup Regatta and the air show and we had an amazing experience. He knows the water, the history of the area and EXACTLY where to position the boat to get the best views. I plan to sail with him again very soon. I highly recommend this experience to anyone who wants to see San ...