How Much Does a Deckhand Make on a Yacht? (Salaries)

how much does a deckhand make on a yacht

Who doesn’t want to sail the high seas in the lap of luxury? Life on a yacht is the pinnacle of maritime leisure and relaxation so it’s definitely not something everyone can afford. But what if you were told you could experience life on yacht and get paid for it to boot? Welcome to a day in the life of a yacht deckhand!

Okay, so maybe you’re not going to be the guest of honor. But there are a lot of perks to being a deckhand. Of course, the salaries might not be too grand, however yacht guests have been known to give eye-popping tips. Wondering how much does a deckhand make on a yacht? Here’s the low-down.

Salary Range for a Yacht Deckhand

The salary of a deckhand on a yacht depends largely on the size of the vessel. For the most part, people will only hire a deckhand if their boat is in the superyacht category. That means a yacht that’s over 80-feet long. However there are some private yacht owners who hire a crew even if they’re operating something smaller.

As you might expect, a deckhand salary will increase as the size of the yacht increases. That means the bigger the boat, the bigger the bucks. It’s also worth considering your level of experience and designation on the boat.

There are three different deckhands found on a yacht. The first is the junior deckhand, the second is the deckhand, and the third is the lead deckhand. These job levels receive varying salaries, with each one earning more than the last.

Junior Deckhand

Junior Deckhands on a yacht earn around $2,000 to $3,000+ per month


Yacht Deckhands earn between $2,800 to $3,500+ per month

Lead Deckhand

Lead Deckhands earn roughly around $3,500 to $4,000+ per month

What’s nice about the deckhand job is that you get to work closely with the guests on the boat. That means you might be rubbing elbows with celebrities, politicians, and other prominent public figures. The deckhand also gets the most tips on board, so that salary might not be your only income stream.

Salaries for Private vs Charter

If you’re looking to snag a job on a yacht, it’s important you know the difference between a private and charter yacht. The private yacht is essentially a vessel that’s used strictly for the benefit and enjoyment of the owner. So the only guests you’re going to be seeing are the ones they invite on-board such as their family and friends. You answer directly to the owner and they also pay your salary.

The charter yacht is basically a yacht that’s rented out to a variety of companies like holiday makers and corporations who want to profit off of the yacht by selling cabin tickets or vacation packages. Charter yachts see a lot of guest variety, letting you deal with and serve lots of different people.

Generally speaking, charter yachts pay less in salaries because they know you’re going to be making more tips. On average, the tips can amount to around 20% of the charter cost, and is split between the crew members by the captain.

On a private yacht, you’re much less likely to get a tip but they are willing to pay more. Private yacht owners also tend to provide bonuses if you rub them the right way, so it’s really a matter of playing your cards right and pleasing your employer.

Yacht Deckhand Job Description and Responsibilities

yacth deckhand jobs

Okay, so maybe the money has made you seriously consider starting out as a yacht deckhand. But do you know what the job entails? There are quite a lot of responsibilities lined up for a yacht deckhand, and these include:


All hands on deck, and that means you, deckhand. The job of cleaning the yacht is all a part of the deckhand duty. You’re going to mop the messes, clean up after rowdy guests, and essentially make sure that everything stays clean and tidy to maintain the luxury feel.

But it’s more than just mopping and tidying. A deckhand also has to polish chrome railings, wipe glass panels to remove smudge marks, clean communal toilets, and maintain public areas after each use. You’re also going to have to clean unseen features of the boat like the inner machines and equipment that hide under the deck.

Basic Repairs

A broken air conditioner in stateroom number two? That’s your business. Minor and basic repairs of features around the boat are the deckhand’s responsibility. So expect to change a light bulb or two while you’re on board.

You should also have some basic knowledge on things like painting, caulking, filling, and varnishing, which you might have to do depending on the conditions on the yacht. Of course, for bigger maintenance problems like major repairs of equipment and machines, the engineers will be mostly responsible.

Safety Protocol Implementation

There’s a lot that could go wrong on a yacht. Slip and fall accidents, choking, and drowning -- these are just some of the dangers that await yacht passengers. That’s why all deckhands have to have some basic knowledge on life support and first aid.

But to prevent the need to use these skills all together, the deckhand makes sure that all passengers are observing proper safety protocol. That means reminding them when to wear a life jacket, and politely informing them of any potentially dangerous activity they might be doing on board.

Water Sports Assistance

Whether it’s water skiing or jet skiing, the deckhand is there to help. They’re the guys who handle the lines, deploy the water toys, and assist the guests for safe fun and enjoyment. They’re basically the all-around assistants on the yacht, doing what they can to maintain safety and keep the guests as comfortable as possible.

Not all yachts will have water toys though, but those that have them will require more than a few deckhands. On larger super yachts, lead deckhands are responsible for designating deckhands to different parts of the boat so that everyone gets the assistance they need.


Deckhands are the guys who see the deck most often. They’re the first to know when something is damaged, the first to know when guests need something, and the first to know when danger might be up ahead. So they should also be responsible for communicating with the rest of the crew.

These guys are in constant communication with the captain, engineers, stewards and stewardesses to maintain smooth sailing. They relay important information to the higher ups in order to curb potential accidents and to make the guests requests known in case they were approached for that specific purpose.

What Training is Required?

You can’t be a deckhand just like that. There are requirements and certificates you have to comply with to become fit for service. These training programs provide the necessary knowledge and skills to improve your performance and equip you for the unique challenges of the yacht deckhand job.

Certification of Medical Fitness

This is a compulsory requirement for all individuals hoping to apply as a deckhand. The certification of medical fitness confirms that you have no serious medical conditions that could affect your work on board. Remember, a huge chunk of your job is to keep everyone safe. If you have any conditions that require unique care, then you might not be able to fulfill your responsibilities.

Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping

This is another requirement for all of those applying for a spot on a yacht crew. The STCW provides basic training on fire fighting and prevention, personal safety and social responsibility, security awareness, sea survival, and emergency first aid. The goal of the training is to make sure the entire crew is prepared to face potential hazards as they arise.

Deckhand Training Course

While this one’s not required, it does help improve your chances of getting a job. The deckhand training course provides you all the basics of the job, teaching you the ins and outs of the work your occupation entails. You can also add on other courses like a personal watercraft certificate that lets you safely operate and deploy things like jetskis.

What Type of Person is Best Suited to the Job?

Not everyone is a fit for the deckhand occupation. That said, if you think you have most of the following qualities, you might find the work to be a good choice if you’re considering starting a career on the sea:

  • Works well in a fast-paced environment
  • Handy with tools
  • Good problem solver
  • Patient and courteous
  • Takes well to instructions and commands
  • Team player
  • Willingness to learn
  • Works well under pressure
  • Can work with minimal supervision
  • Good time management skills
  • Physically fit
  • Takes criticism and correction well

A deckhand is one of the lowest ranking jobs on the deck, so expect to get quite a lot of correction from your superiors. But aside from that, your guests might also find reason to criticize and correct your work. So it helps to be patient and thick-skinned if you plan to work in this demanding industry.

All in a Day’s Work

How much does a deckhand make on a yacht? Not a lot if we’re talking salaries, but those tips might make up for the meager pay. And when you consider the luxury facilities and the potential of rubbing elbows with the rich and the famous, it’s easy to see that the life of a yacht deckhand is anything but boring.

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