Recently, I was on holiday in South Africa. My wife and I went to a small little seaside town called Knysna. It was magnificent! It is really one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. One of the most exciting things we did there though, was enjoy a yacht trip. This yacht was massive!

The deckhand who worked on board was such a great guy. He had years of experience in his belt and it was awesome listening to all his adventures out at sea. This made me wonder how much money a deckhand would make on a yacht. And if there were any differences in salary between private and charter yachts. Keep reading to find out the answer.

Yacht deckhand salary ranges

How much does a deckhand make on a yacht? The average salary of deckhands on a yacht is $35,880 a year (around $18.40 an hour). Novice yacht deckhands can make about $20,378 a year. Experienced yacht deckhands can make up to $59,659 a year. 

Yacht deckhand salaries can also depend on how large the yacht is and also in which area you are working. But on average, these are the figures that a deckhand makes in a year.

Guide to yacht deckhand salary and responsibilities

If you are interested in becoming a deckhand and you like the salary on offer, then keep reading!

For those looking for an exciting life out at sea, then becoming a deckhand could be for you. You also have the option of working on a private or charter yacht. If you work on a private yacht, you might end up making a bit more money though.

yacht deckhand work

It can be hard work being a deckhand, but the money you make can make it all worth it.

What does a deckhand do exactly?

Yacht deckhands have a really important job. He or she is responsible for all the maintenance onboard the vessel and is also responsible for assisting the captain in safely managing the yacht whilst out at sea. You will need to be an energetic, meticulous and responsible person to become a deckhand.

As a deckhand, you will also be in charge of maintaining the cleanliness of the exterior of the yacht. This also includes painting, stripping, waxing, varnishing, and cleaning of the engines.

Yacht deckhands will also need to also pitch in with the cleaning and maintenance of the interior of the yacht, as well as whatever “toys” might be onboard, such as jet skis.

It will also be your responsibility to assist the guests onboard. Therefore, being a deckhand is a lot of work. If you feel that you are up to the challenge, then being a deckhand could be for you, but you will need specific training if you want to take advantage of the larger yacht deckhand salary ranges on offer.

What training should a deckhand have to earn a larger salary?

As a deckhand, you won’t actually need a sailing qualification, but it will always be an advantage. Those with qualifications are more likely to make more money and earn a higher salary.

Other important qualifications that you do need though is the STCW Basic Safety Training and ENG1. This is the basics that you will need to become an entry-level deckhand.

For those who would like to have a greater skill set these specific qualifications are always a must:

  • MCA Efficient Deckhand (EDH)
  • General GRP and carpentry repairs
  • VHF Radio
  • RYA Competent Crew
  • RYA Radar
  • MCA Proficiency in Designated Security Duties
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
  • RYA Tender Operator
  • PWC Personal Watercraft Proficiency

You also give different types of deckhands:

  • Entry Level
  • Mid-level
  • Lead Deckhand
  • Bosun

The more experience you have, the higher up you will be, with a Bosun being the leader of the deck team. Bosuns can make more money as yacht deckhands, both in the private and charter sectors.

Many of the courses available are actually quite short. Some could take a week or even a day depending on which course you would like to do. The courses are also affordable (relatively speaking) – and will be worth the money if you want to achieve a higher yacht deckhand salary.

You would need to see who offers courses in your area to find out more.

Where would a deckhand earn more money, on a private or charter yacht?

It seems that if you had to work on a private yacht you would make more money, in the sense that your basic salary would be higher than that of a charter yacht.

The reason being is that on a charter yacht you could end up getting tips and so from guests, therefore your basic salary on a charter yacht might be a bit less – as your yacht deckhand salary will be largely supplemented by gratuities.

The size of the yacht seems to be the biggest factor depending on average yacht deckhand salaries. The bigger the yacht, the greater your salary, as well as how much experience you have.

The country you work from will also have an impact on your salary too. For example, in South Africa, a deckhand will only make R13,000 a month on average. Which is about $866 a month. Whereas if you had to work in the United States you would be in line to make a lot more money.

Which type of person would be ideal as a deckhand?

Being a deckhand is not for everyone. The job would suit a specific type of person. You might feel that you would like to become a deckhand for the money you can make in salary.

However, if your personality doesn’t suit the job, you might find yourself running for dry land after your first week onboard.

Anyone can become a deckhand. It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman. You would need these specific personality traits to get on with the job.

Are you:

  • An adventure enthusiast: If you enjoy scuba diving, jet-skiing, wake surfing, swimming, and fun, then becoming a deckhand is for you. Deckhands assist their guests with tons of fun and adventurous activities.
  • Physically strong: When it comes to being a deckhand, a certain amount of physical strength is needed. You will need to move heavy equipment around the boast, and the maintenance and cleaning of the boat are physically tiring. You would need to be fit and have tons of energy in order to be a deckhand.
  • An outdoor fanatic: If you hate the idea of sitting in an office all day, then being a deckhand could be for you. You will mainly work outdoors on the yacht, in good and bad weather. So, you need to make sure that you enjoy being outside, whether in the rain or sunshine.
  • Helpful: Deckhands are required to help out all the time. Whether you are helping guests or the captains, you can be sure that you be on beck and call 24/7. If you have a friendly and helpful attitude, then being a deckhand could be a great fit for you.
  • Great at managing tasks: As a deckhand, you will need to be efficient with the work that you do. The amount of work that a deckhand does is a lot. From maintenance to painting, to cleaning, to getting the toys for guests ready, you will need to be awesome at managing your time and getting your work done on time.
  • A leader: Many deckhands eventually work their way up the ranks to Bosun. If this is your goal, then becoming a deckhand will be a good start. Many deckhands eventually even become captains one day.

Whatever your goal is for your future, if you would like to become a deckhand you will need to make sure that your personality is well suited for the job before you start to even consider how much you can make in this job role.

The job is hard, but I think it must be an incredible experience. The stories that Tom (the deckhand on the yacht in South Africa) were amazing!

From seeing dolphins to enormous whales, and magnificent sunsets, he said that he would never do any other job.

If a life of adventure is for you, then becoming a deckhand on a yacht is the perfect job!

The last word…

Perhaps being a yacht deckhand isn’t the thing for you. But, did you know there are other boats where you can also become a deckhand and earn high wages too? And, I’ve done all the hard work for you if you were wondering what the salary ranges were. Check out the following blog posts for more information.

  • Tugboat deckhand salary: up to $72,300 dollars a year (see details)
  • Barge deckhand salary: up to $147 dollar a day (see details)
  • Tuna boat deckhand salary: up to up to $300 dollars per trip (see details)
  • Deadliest Catch deckhand salary: up to $50,000 dollars (see details)