On-board engineers are one of the most important members of the superyacht team. Thanks to them, the yacht stays in tip-top shape with all safety and security factors accounted for. In this article, we will talk about how one can get an engineering position on a superyacht.

The Technical Qualifications for an Engineering Position on a Superyacht

Engineering positions on a superyacht are no happy-go-lucky positions that anybody can join through basic training and relevant or partially relevant experience alone. It is done through hardship and special courses. When it comes to training for a potential engineering position on a superyacht, there are two different paths a candidate can take.

Training for Yacht Engineering via Commerical Shipping

This happens via sponsored cadetship through a shipping company that has associations with a maritime training provider. If you are approved for the cadetship, you get the opportunity to learn and accumulate experience on the company’s sponsored ship. This apprentice-like route can take up to three years. The ultimate outcome of this route is that you get an EOOW (Office of the Watch – Engineering) and either a B.Sc. in Marine Engineering or a Higher National Diploma.

These qualifications can basically enable you to work on superyachts of any length. Of course, larger yachts will require you to have more work experience than smaller yachts, but you will be qualified. The most common entry-level role via this route is ‘3rd engineer’. 

Yacht Certification Route – The MCA Engineering Officer training scheme

The yacht certification route is a standardise yacht engineering course, consisting of 6 key certificates.

a. The Approved Engine Course (AEC): 

This MCA-approved AEC is considered the most basic qualification any engineer should have in the yachting industry. This 4-day long bare-minimum course extends your knowledge regarding how a basic diesel engine functions which include theory and a ton of practicals. With this course, you may be able to work as a junior engineer on a small vessel or in a deck-engineer position.

b. The Marine Engine Operator’s License (MEOL):

This second license in the list requires a candidate to hold the AEC first. This is a shore-based learning course and certificate where a candidate has to display their extensive knowledge related to the engine control room and its safety and operations. Pass the oral exam to be eligible for the Y4 Yachting Certificate.

c. The Y-tickets:

The Y-tickets allow an engineer to work as a Chief Engineer on a yacht. The levels (Y4 being the lowest and Y1 being the highest) decide the maximum size of the yacht and the power of the engine you can work on as a Chief Engineer.

Y4: Yachts between 200GT to 500GT, having an engine of up to 1500Kw in propulsion power.

Y3: Yachts of 3000GT, having an engine of up to 3000Kw in propulsion power.

Y2: Yachts of 3000GT, having an engine of up to 6000Kw in propulsion power.

Y1: Yachts of 3000GT, having an engine of up to 9000Kw in propulsion power. 

Responsibilities of Engineers on a Superyacht

Now, different engineer positions are responsible for different tasks, especially on larger superyachts. However, to condense it down, all engineers share the common duty of protecting the yacht from technical hazards, maintaining the ship and its system for smooth operations, and patching or preventing any technical difficulties.

As a superyacht engineer, you have to be flexible. One day, a guest might call you to fix their satellite TV, the other day, your captain may call you to resolve a complicated problem related to the navigation systems. It is THAT dynamic of a job.

On smaller vessels of 24m or less, you may be the only engineer on board, which is usually more than sufficient. On larger yachts, however, there will usually be a team of engineers present, ranking from Chief Engineer to 4th Engineer. Furthermore, this is also subdivided into further, smaller categories such as electrician, IT engineer, tender engineer and so on.


Getting an engineering position on a superyacht is certainly a bold decision but it can be a rewarding experience. The road to securing an engineering position on a superyacht is an arduous path. Also, please note that almost all of these mentioned qualifications have prerequisites as well.

Also, we would like to thank Wilson Halligan for their extensive coverage of this topic. This article would not be complete without them. Please do check them out!

Sail and Power SA personally do not do any Engineering related courses. However, if you are looking for a deckhand/stewardess or other superyacht-related qualifications in South Africa, feel free to connect with us!