STCW stands for ‘Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping’, This is the course that teaches how to stay safe while working at sea. It is at needs to be completed by all crew working on commercial vessels and superyachts around the world.
You might come across various names of this course which might be confusing. Depending on the training centre it might be called STCW95, STCW95+10 or STCW BST. They usually stand for the same course and as long as they cover five parts enlisted below, the name of the course doesn’t make much difference.
For an entry level position on a superyacht you only need to complete basic course which comprises five parts. They can be taken separately or as a package, the latter being a cheaper and more convenient option. Each part takes from a half to two and a half days and it will take five days to do the whole course.
Training centres where you can complete the course and obtain the certificate are based all over the world. They are the easiest to be found in port towns as well as all yachting hubs. You can do the course in any country wherever it is most convenient for you. However, you need to ensure that your certificates are issued in English and that the course is certified either by MCA or the national maritime organisation of the country where you take your course.
If English is not your first language my advice is NOT to take the course in mother tongue. It might seem like a good idea or it could be cheaper than the same course in English. However, for safety reasons, and also just to make your life on a yacht easier taking the course in English is a better choice. Remember that this is a safety course. English as an international maritime language will always be used in an emergency. It is therefore better to learn and practise all the commands in English. They will also be useful in your day-to-day work on superyachts.
Prices vary across the world, so it is always worth checking a few places. They start from around €300 in Central and Eastern Europe and can go up to around €1,500 in Western Europe, USA and Australia. It is also worth mentioning that the course takes 5 days to complete, so most of the time you will also have to add the cost of accommodation and possibly travel to the price.
Training centres can be found online, however, finding the right one will take require quite a thorough and time-consuming research.
My Premium and Standard courses offer a full list of training centres all over the world together with prices and contact details, so you can easily find the best deal.
ENG1 is a medical test performed to establish whether your health and your level of fitness allow you to work at sea. It can only be conducted by MCA (Maritime Coastguard Agency) approved doctors, who have the biggest representation in the United Kingdom and their numbers are quite limited around the world. Due to this fact it is best to book the test at least a week in advance as the waiting list might be long.
You can download the list of MCA approved doctors based in the UK here.
You can download the list of MCA approved doctors outside of the UK here
It is also worth noting that MCA, being a British organisation also approves equivalents of ENG1 from selected countries, so instead of chasing ENG1 around the world, you might be able to do a counterpart test in your country. The Captains should be aware of this and accept the equivalent, however, you need to ensure that your certificate is in English. If it isn’t you need to get a certified translation.
You can download the list of countries from which equivalents are accepted by MCA here.
If you are new to yachting I would advise to get an ENG1 rather than an equivalent. Equivalents are not very popular on superyachts and it might require a lot of explanations if the captain is not aware of the the validity of the equivalent from your country. Obviously this is nothing that couldn’t be easily verified online, but when looking for your first job, it is better to make it easy for the captain to employ you.
If there isn’t any MCA approved doctor in your country, there is nothing to worry about. They are available in all the yacht hubs, so you can book your appointment when you go there to look for a job. Just remember to book it minimum 1 week in advance of the date that you would like to have the appointment as they are usually very busy.
ENG1 is valid for two years, so there is no point getting it too much in advance. it is important to remember when it expires as you may not always be in the place where it is easy to renew it. My first ENG1 certificate was due to expire when I was in the middle of the Atlantic crossing. I had to make sure that I had a new one before my trip, otherwise I would not be accepted by the authorities of the country that we were heading to and my stay on board would be considered illegal.
The price is around €120 or an equivalent.
Some European countries offer the equivalent medical test as a part of their free healthcare system, however, you need to book it well in advance and you also have to be eligible for free healthcare in this country.
These two certificates are the entry to the superyacht world. You should bear in mind that having them cannot guarantee you a job on a superyacht, you might still need to consider other courses to give yourself better chances of finding a job. However, even with the best qualifications without STCW BST and ENG1 you won’t be allowed to work on superyachts.
They may seem expensive at first, but you need to think of them as an investment rather than an expense. Once you get your first job on a superyacht, they will be paid off with your first salary.