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You will need to get experience working on board a yacht in in order to gain seatime towards your Y4 Certificate of Competency (CoC). The route that you must follow is well mapped out, however your previous experience and qualifications may give you exemptions from some or all of the Y4 modules. To avoid paying for courses that you do not need you should apply to the MCA for a Letter of Initial Assessment.
See our progression chart for yacht engineers.
It is highly recommended that you do not leave the merchant navy (MN) until you have obtained your Class 2 CoC, as this will allow you to reassess your career choice at any point from position of strength. With a Class 2 CoC you only require six months’ yacht service to enable you to sit a Y1 oral examination. Many owners are beginning to recognise that MN officers have undergone a much more robust training regime than yacht engineers and are prepared to pay a premium for this. The large yachts, because of their tonnage and engine size, can only employ engineers with a full MN CoC, however not all MN personnel are considered suitable for superyachts: they generally prefer to recruit staff with the social skills obtained from serving on cruise ships. (tattoos and piercings are a definite no) NOTE: do not fall foul of the difference between sea time and yacht service when going for a superior qualification.
Yacht engineer candidates with previous engineering experience (even if it’s non maritime related) or previous sea service can apply to the UK MCA for a Letter of Initial Assessment. The MCA will require details of your qualifying sea service, engineering qualifications and any craft apprenticeship served, together with any course certificates (first aid, fire fighting, sea survival etc). This letter will effectively map out your career progression, listing course details and required sea service from your current level up to a Y1 Certificate of Competency. To be assessed you must download and submit the relevant application form.
The engineering section of the MCA Seafarer Training and Certification department can be reached by email: email@example.com or by phone: +44 (0)23 8032 9231 – select option 2 for the engineering team.
There are two distinct progression routes, depending upon your particular circumstances with respect to your current employment, one being to get a Marine Engine Operators Licence (MEOL). This consists of an oral exam at the MCA. You are not required to attend a study course before this but will need to get a Notice of Eligibility (NOE). To be eligible for an MEOL you will need to have accrued the relevant sea service time and have passed the Skills Test. Warsash Superyacht Academy has produced a full study guide with examples of the types of questions that you will be asked during your oral exam.
You do not have to follow this path and can go straight to the Y4 (NOE and sea service described later on).
The yacht engineering skills test is carried out in our engineering workshop and is normally completed in less than five days. It gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your fitting skills. There will be instructors in the workshop to give you guidance; they are not supposed to give you any tuition.
Before attempting the test you should be able to complete the following tasks:
Assuming that you already have your Letter of Initial Assessment, you should be looking towards gaining your qualifying sea time before sitting your three Y4 modules, which are:
Before you are permitted to sit a yacht engineering examination you must have attended an MCA recognised training course, gained a course completion certificate and have an in-date ENG1.
Y4, Y3 and Y2 modules are valid for three years from the date of issue of the pass certificate. If you have not passed your oral exam and all three modules within a three-year period, your modules will expire and you will have to take them again. Gaining your CoC removes this requirement for the modules appertaining to that certificate.
You can resit the examination at a licensed SQA examination centre anywhere in the world. They will require you to produce the relevant course completion certificate and pay the SQA exam fee plus their administration costs. An exam paper will only be released by the SQA if there are five or more students sitting that particular paper, so in practice you will only be able to resit if an exam centre is advertising the particular module you need. Warsash Superyacht Academy is committed to our students’ success. We will therefore allow a student who has one of our course completion certificates to attend the entire module again, as a revision course, prior to resitting the exam. This is offered at the reduced rate of £495, can be booked at any time and includes the examination plus administration fees, as well as an up-to-date study guide.
Provided that you have accrued sufficient sea time and yacht service you can apply for a Notice of Eligibility; this will allow you to sit an oral examination at the MCA.
Your best way forward is to get practical experience on yachts and learn on the job. Ideally you will have transferable skills from school (woodwork, metalwork or similar). Your first step is to get a position on a yacht to achieve a minimum of one month’s service as a yacht engineer. This will qualify you to attend a Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) recognised training provider and obtain an Approved Engine Course (AEC) Certificate. Warsash Superyacht Academy is in partnership with yacht recruitment agencies that can assist in this process.
If you have good GCSE or A-level grades, the most cost and time effective method of getting onto a superyacht is to enrol in the merchant navy as an engineer officer cadet. You will be paid a wage by a sponsoring company; they will also pay your course fees. At the end of a three year period of study (depending upon starting qualifications) you should be awarded a Merchant Navy Officer of the Watch certificate. This is much quicker than the Yacht 4 route and is a far superior qualification, which has fewer limitations on the size and power of yacht you will be able to work on. It will also speed up your career progression towards Chief Engineer.
On a merchant ship all time spent on board counts as sea time, however the MCA recognises that yachts spend a lot of time tied up alongside on shore power, with very little machinery actually running. The qualifying service period is therefore broken into two distinct categories:
Sea time: a period spent at sea with main machinery running (anchorage counts) and yacht service: time spent on board in charge of the engine room.
You must ensure that your service testimonial clearly differentiates between them!
The MCA will, in some cases, accept up to three months in a repair yard as yacht service. This is dependent upon the candidate being able to prove that there was a significant amount of engineering work taking place and that they were actively engaged with it.
Provided that you have accrued enough qualifying sea time and have passed the Y3 Statutory & Operational Requirements exam, this is perfectly feasible; it will be an option listed on your NOE. Be warned that if you do not reach the required standard in the oral exam you may walk away with a Y4 CoC or nothing at all.
This is possible but will not be easy! It will involve you spending 540 hours in an engineering workshop to complete the tasks in the MNTB training book. You will probably need to gain seatime on a MN vessel. In addition you may have to pass the four academic modules plus the MCA Engineering Knowledge (Motor Propulsion) Management Level examination.
Before attempting this you should apply for a Letter of Initial Assessment from the MCA so you fully understand the magnitude of this task. If working on the biggest yachts is your ultimate goal then the easiest way of achieving this is via a Merchant Navy engineering cadetship.
Warsash Superyacht Academy is a collaboration between Warsash Maritime Academy, the internationally recognised centre of maritime excellence, and its parent organisation, Southampton Solent University.
Warsash Superyacht Academy is a leading provider of maritime education and training and part of an innovation hub, which includes other faculties and services within Southampton Solent University and other reputable training and business services partners including the LH Academy (formerly Interior Yacht Services).
The LH Academy (formerly Interior Yacht Services) is known for its innovative and professional approach. Its courses are taught by specialists in their field who have a close affinity with the superyacht industry. The LH Academy was the first and training provider qualified to train the full range of the Professional Yacht Association's (PYA) GUEST accredited courses on board yachts.
Warsash is the only centre in the world where you can train from entry level all the way through to superyacht management level, and beyond, across your chosen discipline.
GUEST stands for Guidelines for Unified Excellence Service Training. The guidelines cover the training provision for new and existing crew working in the hospitality departments of superyachts. The PYA has produced a document containing in-depth information about all of the modules.
Yes, depending on the training academy and their accreditation within the industry. For more information, see the PYA guidelines.
It's straightforward. Just refer to the our progression charts and the PYA's transitional arrangements on the document on the PYA website which clearly explain and define the career paths for interior crew.
Download the career progression chart for interior crew
We offer all of the interior courses supplied under the PYA GUEST programme, along with other service specialisms required by superyacht owners and their guests. These include butler and silver service, housekeeping and valet services, bartending, barista, tea and wine knowledge. Led by our team of specialist, experienced tutors in each given area, our courses are setting new standards in elite interior crew training.
Find out more about the interior training offered by Warsash and the LH Academy.
The LH Academy (formerly Interior Yacht Services), Warsash Superyacht Academy and the PYA are raising standards for interior crew training, providing the necessary tools and recognised certification for career progression within the industry. No other academy offers the range, quality and choice available through Warsash for interior, deck and engineering crew. Our delivery offers superyacht owners and management companies the guarantees they require to recruit the most able and talented people to operate their superyachts and businesses to the highest possible standards.
The Warsash Superyacht Academy and LH Academy teaching faculty has attracted some of the most experienced seafarers and interior hospitality experts available. Find out more about our tutors.
Our world class sommeliers teach the fundamentals of wine and grape varieties; the art of wine service; the importance of good communication skills, including the interpretation and correct pronunciation of names; wine and food pairing; wine storage and maintenance. To find out more see our Beverage Specialist course.
Our trainers are true specialists in their field and are ranked amongst the top five in the world at various international competitions. During our Beverage Specialist course, you'll learn the art of mixology, covering the basics, classic cocktails, new creations and service excellence, leading to a whole new appreciation of great cocktails and spirits.
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