Yacht chief officer salary guide

A chief officer (alternately called a first mate or chief mate) is typically the second in command on board a yacht.



Every Superyacht has a Chief Officer although larger yachts will also have a Second Officer.

This chief officer’s role is to assist the Captain in administrative, navigation, operation and security duties.

The Second Officer helps and mentors deckhands and bosuns.


A very important yacht crew member

This position comes with a high level of responsibility and it can also be a stepping stone for future captains.


This is the second in command and reports to the Captain.

As chief mate you may be asked to assist the captain with administrative and financial responsibilities, but you will ultimately be in charge of navigation plans, watch schedules, deck upkeep, yacht crew management and working hours, and guest and crew safety.

You’ll need to figure out how to keep the crew morale and enthusiasm high during long seasons or arrange shipyards and large refits for a yacht with a busy schedule.

The role requires a good insight into human resources as well as an extensive understanding of the yachting industry.


In command of the deck crew: Second Officer, Third Officer, Bosun, and Deckhands (on a larger yacht)

The first officer will be fully versed in all safety procedures on board in case of an emergency.

Your job requires extensive knowledge of tides, currents, navigation rules, and practices.

You are responsible for maintaining the vessel’s logbooks in accordance with international regulations.

You will also have a good understanding of weather forecasting.

Full familiarization with the yacht owner’s requirements, contractual agreements, and applicable legislation are also part of the role.

Regular communication with the chief engineer in regards to all engine-related matters is integral to your responsibilities.




The Chief or Second Officer may be the designated security, safety, and medical officer on board.

The ISM Code was created by SOLAS to provide the required standards set out in The Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health and Safety at Work) Regulations 1997 (SI 1997 No. 2962) (the Regulations) and the Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seafarers (CoSWP).

According to a number of authorities, the majority of maritime disasters are caused by human error.

Accidents at sea may be avoided with a well-designed training program. Every sea-going vessel above a certain tonnage will now have a safety management system.

The ship’s safety officer is in charge of ensuring the safety of the crew onboard and fostering a safety culture through education and motivation.

It might be a dangerous scenario for the yacht crew and guests if there is no safety culture and supervisor onboard.

Furthermore, the ship’s presence endangers the marine environment in case of an accident, increasing downtime and financial losses.

It’s no secret that during port state inspections, ship inspections, and other services, the first thing examined is the safety of the vessel.

The safety officer or his deputy is responsible for the safe condition of the ship and overseeing compliance with international standards, as well as flag state requirements.

In case of an incident, he has to conduct a thorough investigation.

Onboard any kind of yacht each person on watch must have a good understanding of the safety procedures and it is the job of the first officer to make sure that all yacht crew members are familiar with them.

You will be required to stand watches as required by the vessel’s voyage plan and relevant regulations.


Supervisor of deck operations and maintenance on board.

The role of the deck officer is to:

  • Organize, plan, and manage the work of the deck crew. This may include wash downs, varnishing, general maintenance, as well as mooring lines and fender management.
  • Budgeting and inventory for the deck department
  • Manage the supply of spare parts and inventory for the deck.
  • Ensures that all deck equipment is properly maintained and serviced
  • The yacht’s liaison with suppliers, shore-side technicians, yards, etc. 
  • Supervises future repair work onboard.


Water toys, jet skis, and tender management

As the deck department head, you are in command of overseeing, managing, and operating the yacht’s tenders, jet skis, and water toys.


Creating and maintaining watch schedules and passage planning

This is a very important duty. The watch schedule is the basis of the yacht’s passage planning.

You are accountable for all deck crew members’ actions on deck.

Supervising duties assigned to deck crew members during each watch period, making sure that everything is done according to standard safety guidelines.

Ensuring that the ship’s emergency equipment, firefighting equipment, life saving appliances, and rescue boats are in proper working order.

Maintaining an accurate record of work hours for all crew members.


What are the requirements?

Chief Officer 3000 or Unlimited certificate

Good communication and computer skills.

Deck knowledge of yacht operations and maintenance is essential

Lead and manage effectively.


You need to be a great leader and an amazing trainer/coach

This role involves a great deal of management, coaching, and leadership, so you must be proactive in training fellow crew members and have a clear leadership style.

In this role, you will be responsible for the crew’s safety, morale, and wellbeing. Having a people-oriented approach is crucial as well as being a positive role model for your crew members

At the end of the day, you need to be able to motivate and inspire the entire crew.

You are the link between all heads of department, chief stewardess, head chef, chief engineer, and the captain.


Yacht crew salary

Everyone is curious about the wages of yacht crew members. Here are the key factors that affect yacht crew salary:

  • The size of the vessel
  • Motor vs Sailing yacht
  • Rotational vs permanent
  • Charter yacht vs private yacht
  • Experience
  • Qualifications

On average, in this position, you can expect to earn between EUR 48,000 – 80,000 per year + tips and bonuses.

If you want to find out more about yacht crew salaries, you can use this free calculator to see if you are in range. This is a rough estimate and it depends on your level of experience and your certificate.


How to find a job as a yacht crew member?

With so many people vying for desired roles, the job search is always competitive.

It isn’t unusual to have several hundred candidates for a single position.

Working with skilled crew agencies like Lighthouse Careers, who can assist you in getting the most out of your experience by emphasizing your talents, will significantly enhance your chances of obtaining the ideal position.


Have a look at our job board If you are looking for a chief officer jobs.

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