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How to become a super-yacht engineer

Discussion in 'Licensing & Education' started by Abenham, Mar 20, 2015.

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  1. Abenham

    Abenham New Member

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    Ok so I'm from Colorado and have always been fascinated by yachts and specifically super-yachts. I'm currently attending Arizona State University as a freshman in Aerospace engineering but I feel I'd honestly be more interested in working as an engineer on a super-yacht.

    The only problem is I have no idea how the system works, I've been reading some posts on here but I'm still a little uncertain about the process. I have looked at some of the super-yacht brokers websites like Burgess as well as Edmiston and they look for Engineers with Y1,2,3,4 tickets. I've tried to figure out what these are but to no real avail :(

    Should I get a degree in mechanical engineering and then work my way to getting different certificates? Maybe a different degree? Are there schools that could take me though the entire posses? I think I understand that it may be start working on a smaller boat and working my way up but still, do you need a specific degree or what? What in a sense is the career path of an engineer on a super-yacht?

    And my final question is are the chances of me actually working on a super-yacht so small that I should probably just stick to Aerospace? I relies that this is obviously probably a insanely competitive field with only the best of the best working on the super-yachts and if I'm already not in it or don't know anyone associated with super-yachts that I should probably not even try? I will take courses such as Thermofluids and Applied Experimental Statistics, and and since this degree is literally rocket science I don't necessarily foresee the technicality of the engineering being a problem. But I just don't want to move to Florida having no idea about what I'm doing and not end up being able to actually work in the Super-yacht industry.

    Any advice or websites to look at or different people to talk to would be more than welcome!

    Thanks all!
    Andy
  2. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    Andy,
    If you are mechanically inclined, and good natured, there is a very good chance that you will succeed in becoming a top-notch engineer on super yachts.
    The "Y" ratings are yacht-specific engineering licenses offered by the MCA, which is the British Coast Guard. Since you are from Colorado, I assume you are a US Citizen. I would recommend that you do some research into pursuing a license with the US Coast Guard. Start with a Google search for National Maritime Center, and then go on to look into engineering requirements.

    You have two viable study paths.
    You can complete your studies, and then work from the bottom up in yachting to get the required time for a license. This would give you another option in aerospace (currently only a 0.3% unemployment rate in that field) if you decide later that yachting isn't for you.

    Or you could attend a maritime academy, focusing on engineering.

    Best of luck to you, and enjoy your research.
  3. Abenham

    Abenham New Member

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    Sweet thanks for the help!
    I would want to go to a maritime academy, get engineering certifications from the National maritime center and then I could go into the industry?
  4. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I think Ken states the choices well. I don't know your experience around superyachts and if you yet have a good understanding for what an Engineer's job on one encompasses, much less the path to get there. Unlike aerospace where a good solid degree can jump you well into a career, all Yacht careers require building considerable experience at all levels.

    Unless or until I was certain yacht engineering was for me, I'd keep all possible doors open. A good four year college degree, especially in a major like yours provides options. You could start some maritime training at least in the summers or even try to get a job crewing as a deck hand on a yacht just to get a feel.

    A lot of the entry jobs in marine engineering are on commercial boats, a very different world from yachts but very good place to learn as well.

    The engineering world in the marine industry is a very different profession than Aerospace Engineering is. It's far more hands on, working with equipment itself whereas Aerospace is more into theory and design. In some ways Naval Architecture is more similar to your current educational path.

    Ken's first statement was "If you're mechanically inclined." Are you? Do you like working with your hands and getting hot, sweaty and dirty in less than comfortable environments? While things change some as you grow to Chief Engineer on a super yacht, the path there is not a white collar type job.

    I copy this from your school's pages:

    A majority of students entering the field of aerospace engineering desire to work on the design and analysis of aerospace vehicles. Most graduates are employed in the aerospace industry or in government positions related to aerospace. Specific careers in aerospace engineering include:

    • aeronautical and space systems integration
    • configuration development
    • material and structural design
    • propulsion engineering
    • space mission design and analysis
    • vehicle and component analysis using computer-aided tools
    • vehicle design and performance
    • wind tunnel and flight testing
    Now for comparison I offer some "yacht engineering information." The job description of a junior engineer:

    * Safety in the engine room
    * Cleanliness and maintenance in the engine room
    * Increasing knowledge of all systems on board
    * Continued education and licensing
    * Ready to help in any area of the yacht when needed


    And then a Chief Engineer:

    * Ultimate safety for engine room operations
    * Maintain the yacht's entire engineering operations
    * Ability to manage and supervise engine repairs and rehauls
    * Manage and train other engineers and deck crew
    * Engineering inventory
    * Planned maintenance schedule for all major systems

    Another note regarding yacht engineers:

    Practical hands on experience repairing any variety of mechanical items such as jetskis, waverunners, air conditioners, refrigerators, diesel engines, generators, electrical wiring, plumbing, navigational equipment, etc. The Engineer is responsible for keeping the yacht in good mechanical order so that the vessel is safe to go to sea with guests and crew on board, and able to provide a first class hotel environment for the owners and their guests.

    Good luck with whatever you decide, but I think you're looking at very different type careers, especially on the way up.
  5. Abenham

    Abenham New Member

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    Yea that's one of the reasons I was considering this change so much was there would be hands on work like fixing things and "field work" and less just the theory working in an office that would be Aerospace. I think I understand the duty's of the engineer quite well.

    I found some programs that give you the Junior Engineering components, once you got that would basically working on an actual boat then give you more hours to become a chief engineer? Or would you need actual course work to become a chief engineer?
  6. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Course work too. Course, exams and assessments.
  7. Abenham

    Abenham New Member

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    Would getting a degree in Maritime engineering help in becoming a chief engineer?
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    There are two types of programs there. First the traditional college that offers marine engineering programs. Most of those programs are tied closer to ship building and naval architecture than to preparing to be a boat engineer. MIT is an example as is New Orleans.

    Then there are the military schools, such as the US Merchant Marine Academy, the Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Maine and Massachusetts Maritime Academies. These all come with military commitment too.

    Either of these helps in your career. They may not shortcut you that much at the entry level but they will provide you a knowledge base that is extremely beneficial as you advance. They also carry respect if you change careers and I do feel important to remind you that most people change careers during their life.

    Really you're looking for two components. A solid underlying engineering background and knowledge and direct training in all the equipment and tasks you'll deal with plus the other required areas for Yacht or Ship Engineering Licensing. I'd think of it somewhat like getting a college degree and getting a Masters too.

    Now I speak as a boat owner and licensed captain and one in a hiring position but not as an engineer. Hopefully some engineers will comment. I employ two engineers. One went to MIT with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science and followed that up as an Indy Car Engineer before moving to his real love, yachting. The other went to work in a shipyard part time while still in high school. Then got a job on his first boat and worked his way up while taking various courses along the way. Very different paths but both successful.
  9. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    CaptHolli would be a good one to wade in here as I think I read somewhere in one of his posts that he went through one of the US Maritime colleges.
  10. Bamboo

    Bamboo Senior Member

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    Abenham I'd encourage you to look at the 6 state academies (plus USMMA) as a option for your future:
    California, Great Lakes, Maine, Massachusetts, SUNY (New York), Texas and USMMA-aka "Kings Point" (United State Merchant Marine Academy ((also in NY)).

    Olderboater- Not all State Maritime Academies come with mandatory military commitments. While it is an option upon graduation, it is not required. Serving aboard MSC (Military Sealift Command) vessels with your license is also an option at Kings Point for example- instead of becoming an officer in the armed forces. I don't believe the state maritime academies require military commitments when you graduate. At Kings Point you can enroll as a foreign citizen which certainly does not require a military commitment. My son is enrolled at MMA and is not currently a US citizen.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
  11. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I thought you were automatically in the reserves upon graduation. Guess I was incorrect.
  12. Bamboo

    Bamboo Senior Member

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    Good question which I don't know the answer to, but I will soon and report back. Thanks for pointing this out.
  13. JWY

    JWY Senior Member

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    Hailing from Arizona and Colorado myself, I would recommend California Maritime Academy. The March issue Of Maritime Reporter has a big article in training simulation and it includes a nice write-up about the CMA program.
    Disclosure: Proud Mom of a CMA alumnus.

    Judy
  14. Belle

    Belle Member

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    Proud moms allowed.

    Simulation is growing by leaps and bounds. With assessments now, gonna see lots more. I know MPT really expanding theirs. I like simulation because you can deal with things you might go years and never encounter or might never at anytime. But might just one day draw back on what you did in the simulation.
  15. Abenham

    Abenham New Member

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    Thank you all so much for all your advice, this has been so helpful :D

    I hope this isn't to much to ask but would it be possible if anyone knew an engineer that I could possibly talk to about what its like to work aboard a yacht? I just am struggling to find information about what its like to be an engineer in this industry. Things such as what an average day would look like, general questions like this. I ask because in highschool we had a whole class that we spent on studying careers and doing job shadows and things like that so I just want to gain the full picture before I make a commitment! Once again any and all advice is more than welcome :)
  16. Abenham

    Abenham New Member

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    Also it seems that a lot of these requirements and certifications I've seen that people want you to have are British, if I went to an American school that would still be fine right?
  17. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Your American Qualifications will be transferable for use on other flag vessels as long as they are for all oceans not an inland or near coastal type thing.

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot I am a engineer who has extensive experience on the big yachts.