If you love sailing and you dream of sun-soaked days out on your own private yacht, then working with yachts might be your calling. For those interesting in become a yacht broker, it’s essential to know what qualifications, certifications, and licensing you might need to be compliant, plus any other steps you need to take to get your dream job.
In this guide I will explain how you can become a yacht broker in the United States and United Kingdom.
How to become a yacht broker in the USA
With the exception of California and Florida, most states in the USA do not require a yacht broker to be licensed to operate.
In addition to this, you do not need a bachelor’s degree to become a yacht broker in the USA, although it can help.
A bachelor’s degree in retail marketing and sales with be advantageous for this field. A passion and understanding of yachts will also be essential.
If you do not have the money to start your own brokerage, the best way to get your foot in the door would be to get a job working for an already established brokerage.
Once you are working in a brokerage, you can start looking into gaining recommended certification and association membership. Although these are not mandatory requirements in all states, they are still highly recommended as they help to bolster your reputation.
In the end, a yacht broker is expected to handle thousands of dollars’ worth of cash, and being trustworthy is an absolute must. Gaining certification and membership with a trusted association will go a long way towards building your reputation, as well as giving you access to potential contacts and invaluable networking resources.
Aside from a bachelor’s degree, either in a relevant maritime subject or marketing and retail, the option for additional certification is also available.
The Yachts Brokers Association of America (YBAA) recommends the Certified Professional Yacht Broker (CPYB) certification.
To become a yacht broker by achieving this certification, you will need three years of experience in yacht brokerage and sales.
You will also need to have any necessary licenses for the state you operate in; a demonstrable history of using legal sales contracts; and proof of any relevant trust and escrow accounts.
The certification exam will focus on sales regulations, ethics, legalities, and the process involved with selling a boat.
Although membership is not mandatory, it does have the benefit of offering a broad knowledge base, invaluable networking opportunities, and it also helps to bolster your credibility as a trustworthy and reliable yacht broker.
Listed below are some of the most prominent yacht broker associations available to join throughout North America:
- YBAA – The Yachts Brokers Association of America
- IYBA – International Yacht Brokers Association (formerly the FYBA)
- NYBA – Northwest Yacht Brokers Association
- GCYBA – Gulf Coast Yacht Brokers Association
- CYBA – Charter Yacht Brokers Association
Yacht broker licensing in Florida
In Florida, a broker will need a license to sell any vessel over 32 feet length overall (LOA). To become licensed in Florida, the broker will need to do the following:
- Submit a $10,000 bond to the state.
- Undergo a criminal background check. This will include submitting fingerprints.
- Hold a license with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
If you want to open your own brokerage or you want to become a broker of record, you will also need to have held a valid DBPR for a minimum of two years, and you will need to submit a surety bond to the state for $25,000.
Yacht broker licensing in California
To sell any vessel in California that is over 16 feet LOA, but not over 300 GRT (gross registered tons), you will need to be licensed. To do this, the broker must:
- Submit a $10,000 bond to the state.
- Hold a license with the California Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW).
To work for a brokerage, you will only need to meet the above requirements, but if you want to open your own brokerage, you will need to have held a DBW for two years. Earning the license involves sitting a two hours exam, as mandated by the state.
How to become a yacht broker in the UK
If you’re planning to become a yacht broker in the UK, then having a history in sales and a solid understanding of yachts will be essential.
It’s important to remember that you will need to be able to talk to your clients in detail about yachts and to answer any questions they might have with confidence. If your client gets even a whiff that you don’t know what you’re talking about, they’ll likely look elsewhere, so it’s vital that you really know your stuff.
In this regard, confidence and excellent customer service skills will be crucial.
If you don’t have the money to start your own brokerage, then getting a job at a brokerage will likely be your first step.
From here, you can build the experience you need and get the additional qualifications, connections, and association memberships required to help move your career forward.
Although you don’t need a degree to become a yacht broker in the UK, it does help. Any diploma or bachelor’s degree that gives you experience with yachts or other boats will come in useful, as well as any degree or qualification in retail marketing and sales.
Later, once you have started working as a yacht broker, additional qualifications can help with bolstering your reputation and making you more appealing to work with for potential customers.
For those who are new to being a yacht broker, the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA) offer a Professional Yacht Brokerage Course.
This intensive two-day course covers everything you need to get starting, including a detailed overview of the process of selling a yacht, as well as the financial and legal aspects of managing a sale. In addition to this, it also covers the details of insurance and the HMRC requirements.
Aside from earning any relevant qualifications, being part of a recognized association will help significantly with building a trustworthy reputation. The Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA) is the most recognized association for yacht brokers in the UK and has over 200 members worldwide.
Aside from adding to your reputation, it also gives you access to networking opportunities, a solid knowledge base in the other members, professional links, and regular industry news.
To become a member, you can take one of two pathways. For those new to the field, you can take part in their ABYA Professional Brokerage Course, which also gives you access to one year of free membership.
If you are already an experienced broker, then you can apply for membership by submitting a sales file, which aims to show the association your understanding of the processes involved with selling a boat professionally.
Once a member, the association will expect you to continuously refresh your knowledge of the legal and technical skills required to be a professional yacht broker.
Do you need a license to be a yacht broker?
The rules vary from country to country, and from state to state, but in most cases, you don’t actually need a license to be as a yacht broker if you’re in the UK or USA.
In the UK, a background in sales and a solid understanding of yachts are typically the most valued assets. Once you have some experience, joining the Association of Brokers and Yacht Agents (ABYA) can help with building a strong reputation and credibility.
Earning qualifications can also assist with this. Depending on which county you operate from, there may be additional laws, so it’s always worth checking with your local yacht club or marina for more information before taking the plunge.
In the USA, most states do not require you to have a license, with the exception of Florida and California. Similar to the UK, a history in sales and detailed knowledge of yachts are the most valuable assets for becoming a yacht broker. Certification is not needed, but it is recommended, and being part of an association has a myriad of benefits.
California and Florida are both the only states in America that require yacht brokers to be licensed, although the legal definition of a yacht varies between these states. To achieve licensing, you will need to hold any additional licenses required and pay a $10,000 bond to the state.
That said, however, rules do vary from state to state, so it is always worth checking with your local yacht club or marina for any recent changes to the local laws.
Is there anything else I need to become a yacht broker?
Aside from all the licensing and recommended certifications and association memberships, it’s important to remember that becoming a successful yacht broker takes a wide gamut of skills and knowledge.
Established brokers emphasize that boating experience and technical knowledge will be the foundation that everything else is built on. Your customers are going to know a lot about yachts, so you must be able to not only meet them on their level but answer any questions they might have with confidence and honesty.
Being honest and trustworthy will also be crucial to your career. If you treat your client well during your first interaction with them, they will be more likely to use your services again in the future and to recommend you to others.
Word of mouth will have a massive impact on not only your reputation but your career, so it’s essential to avoid any temptation to make a quick sale even if you know the boat isn’t what your customer actually wants.
It may make for a quick win in the short term, but a customer who feels cheated will not be shy about telling others at their local yacht club or marina, and you will risk losing out on future custom.
In addition to this, a yacht broker needs to maintain a professional approach at all times and have excellent customer service skills. Charisma and a willingness to hustle will both be crucial in building relationships and networking.
As you will be selling luxury items, you will need to look presentable. You will also need to know how to negotiate, be financially savvy, and stay up to date on all the legal requirements for your state or county.
Being computer literate and having some experience with internet marketing and social media will also be essential.
Finally, you will need to do plenty of legwork in getting connected. Join as many yacht clubs as you can and focus on building long-term connections.
Customers are more likely to go with you as their broker if they already know they can trust you, and in this regard, patience and persistence will both be key.
How much money can you earn?
Yacht broker salaries will vary drastically depending on your location and the commission percentage agreed. The bigger and more expensive the boat, the larger the annual salary can be. I’ve detailed this in my guide to yacht broker salaries.
The last word…
I hope you’ve enjoyed this very short guide on how to become a yacht broker. I’ve tried to include as much information on what you will need to get into the industry, but possibly the best thing you can do is go and talk to yacht brokers themselves to see how they got into the career.
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