Fun fact: U.S. boat sales can reach heights of up to $41 billion bucks each year. And while most people want to join the frenzy by saving up to buy their own boat, other clever cats join in on the big business by selling the boats. Yachts in particular can sell for a very pretty penny. So hopping in on the craze by starting a career as a yacht broker might get you a sweet slice of that $41 billion dollar business.
But although it might seem pretty lucrative to become a yacht broker, you can't really just head to the dealership and take on the role. On the contrary, there are quite a few hoops you might have to jump through to start a career in the yacht sales business. Wondering how to become a yacht broker? Here's what the job requires.
Basic Knowledge of the Business
First of all - would you buy a car from a guy who's never driven one? Exactly. Before you even think about becoming a yacht broker, you have to make sure you know what to tell your buyers. First hand experience with yachts should give you the upper hand in the business so that you know exactly how to sell a boat's good points and how to take attention away from its flaws.
Yacht brokers need to know the need-to-knows of the business. If you don't have a boat of your own, then you can visit your local marina and talk with the boat owners there. Visit a dealership and ask about boat specifics. You can even do research at home. It pays to know everything there is to know about boats if you want to really get your buyers to seal the deal especially if you don't have a lot of sales experience yet.
For the record - certification isn't required if you're wondering how to become a yacht broker. In fact, not a single brokerage requires it since they're more interested in experience in sales and skills. But it is helpful for buyers who want to make sure they’re dealing with someone with a good sales record.
That's exactly what certification is for. Presently, only the Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA) offers a course for certifying brokers, providing the title Certified Professional Yacht Broker (CPYB.) Applicants must be able to provide several documents to start the certification process. These include:
- Proof of present employment as a yacht broker for at least 1 year
- Proof of employment as a yacht broker for at least three years in the past 10 year period
- Proof of ethical yacht sales and necessary documentation
- A dedicated escrow/trust account for all client funds in trust
- Where applicable, the individual holds all necessary licenses required by the local government
- No violations for the last seven years of any surety or Codes of Ethics of any brokerage organizations or groups that the applicant is a part of
- Pass the CPYB exam
Individuals who comply with these requirements (among several others) are eligible to obtain certification as a Certified Professional Yacht Broker from the Yacht Brokers Association of America.
Alternatively E-learning courses and seminars are also helpful for developing skills. The Association offers courses on warranties, insurance, marketing, co-brokerage, and all of the nitty gritty details of being a yacht broker.
These e-seminars can be helpful in providing insight so you can navigate the work of selling boats, offering important knowledge on specifics that you might not be able to find anywhere else.
Do You Need a License for a Yacht Brokers Career?
To be clear, there are very few states that actually require a yacht broker to have a license. As of writing, only the states of Florida, California, and Virginia require yacht brokers a license to practice their trade through the local government. Other states have no yacht sales regulations.
The requirements for acquiring a license change between states, but you might expect some of these requirements to pop up during the process:
- At least 18 years of age
- A fixed place of business
- Employed as a yacht broker as your primary occupation in another state for at least three years OR
- Own and operate a business selling new or used yachts in the state for at least three years immediately after applying for a license OR
- Employed as a licensed yacht broker for at least a year out of the last five years in the state
- Relevant certification from the YBAA and licenses
These are a must for licenses in California, but Florida and Virginia might require completely different documents and regulations. Licensing process fees can cost you between $200 and $300 to become a licensed broker, depending on the place you're in. It may be helpful to check locally to get a better idea.
Renewal of licensing may have to take place annually depending on local regulations, but it can be different for different states. In some cases, you might also have to complete and pass a written exam to ensure that you're knowledgeable on the specifics of the industry before you can become a licensed broker.
Education, Degree, and School Requirements for the Career
Is a degree a must to become a yacht broker? Yacht brokerages will usually prefer employing yacht brokers with at least a Bachelor's Degree, but it's not uncommon for high school graduates to get jobs as yacht brokers. Of course, a college education and a Bachelor's Degree in business, marketing, sales, or any other related course can be helpful, but you will find it's not always a must in most states.
Selling yachts and sealing deals aren't really skills they teach you at high school -- you get that from years of sales experience. If you've got the chops to make sales and you know the ins and outs of yachts, then it shouldn't be impossible to get a job as a yacht broker -- even without a college degree or an extensive background in school based education especially if you pass the brokerage's exam and requirements.
How Much Do Yacht Brokers Make?
What's a yacht broker salary like? Yacht brokers work on a commission just like any other broker or salesperson career, which means that they make more when they sell more. According to statistics, a successful yacht broker can make a salary of as much as $120,00 a year if they're dealing with higher end yacht models. But that's a very generous estimate of what real figures actually look like.
If we're being realistic, a yacht broker can make an average of about $70,000 a year. That places their weekly salary payout at around $1,300 to $1,400. Of course, peak seasons do exist where sales increase, earning them an extra $500 to $1,000 a week if they're lucky.
Another helpful piece of information is that the amount they get in terms of commissions isn't permanent. Most brokers will ask for 10% of the total sales, but there are net commissions and percentage commissions.
With a net commission agreement, the broker gets the exact amount agreed with the clients regardless of whether or not the yacht is sold for a lower or higher price after negotiations. On the other hand, percentage commissions will earn the broker a specific percentage of the successful sales, which is affected by negotiations made on the sale.
You'll also have to consider the situation if there's a broker working for the buying end as well. The listing broker and selling broker will often have to split the commission from the sales. So if the clients agree to pay a 10% commission on the sale, the brokers won't get 10% each, but will instead get 5% each for a total cut of 10%.
Tips on How to Become a Yacht Broker
- First of all - connections are key in this career. Expand your network by visiting boat shows, dealerships, and other places where you can meet new people in the industry.
- It's helpful to ask a pro. Find and train at a yacht brokerage under licensed or experienced yacht brokers with lots of sales experience to get a better idea of the intricacies of the sale and relevant skills and knowledge.
- You must learn to accept rejection. Yachts are expensive, and even the most interested buyers can back off of a deal when their budget won't allow it.
- Maintain previous contacts. Prospective buyers who didn't push through in the past might be more comfortable to purchase a boat later in the future. It may be helpful to keep in touch.
- Be likable. You and your competition are all selling the same boats. It's your personality that will make all of the difference.
- Go online. A lot of your prospective buyers exist on the internet. If you want to reach a wider audience, try your hand at online marketing.
- Be teachable. If you don't have a lot of experience or a degree in marketing or business, make up for the school deficit by attending seminars and learning courses to expand your knowledge and skills.
FAQs About How to Become a Yacht Broker
Is it hard to become a yacht broker?
All jobs come with their own unique set of challenges. Becoming a successful yacht broker requires persistence and lots of exposure to the actual job. You will find that there are intricacies you'll only learn once you're out on the field since they're not taught in school or in textbooks. Work with a more experienced broker to learn more about what it takes to secure those sales.
What about luxury yacht brokers?
Selling luxury superyachts and gigayachts can earn you massive income in a single transaction, but it's not quite as easy as selling small fry. You're going to need lots of sales experience since you're going to deal with a yacht brokerage and corporations instead of not private individuals.
They might also be more particular about making sure their brokers education, preferring those that have a Bachelor's Degree in business, marketing, and other appropriate courses and not just a high school diploma. It's always best to start out with smaller boats and then work your way up by joining a brokerage firm for luxury yachts for the super rich clientele.
Quitting Your Day Job?
If you're thinking about quitting your day job to pursue your passion for boats, then it pays to know how to become a yacht broker. You'll find that it will take some serious sacrifice and learning before you can call yourself a success in the industry. But with the right contacts, proper licenses and experience, and lots of practice and exposure, you might just be able to secure for yourself a high paying job that puts you in the company of some of the richest communities around.