The crew industry’s focus on career movement is growing. The focus of the discussion is normally on forward movement within a decided department, or even moving from on board to shoreside. However, what options are there for those crewmembers who want to take a step sideways? By that, I mean those who want to remain on board as a crewmember, but want to switch departments.

According to Brian Luke, chief operations officer at International Crew Training, this transition normally takes place regarding interior crew moving to the deck department who, he says, have been working in the interior for about six months. “Often you will have a crewmember who is new to the industry and believes due to the lack of experience the interior is the only place they are capable or qualified to work on the vessel,” explains Luke. “As they grow more comfortable working with the crew and getting used to the superyacht, they soon realise it’s not rocket science and they too have the ability to work the deck.”

On smaller vessels the transition is a more natural one, due to the job description normally requiring an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach. But for those on larger vessels with bigger departments the move between departments can be tricky. “It can sometimes be difficult to assist crew in this transition because they may have built up good longevity and experience in the department they started off in, and then promoting to a captain that they now want to completely change,” explains the recruitment team at Viking Recruitment.

"It is generally advisable that crew looking to make this transition, try to do so on the yacht they are already on."

"It is generally advisable that crew looking to make this transition, try to do so on the yacht they are already on,” explains the Viking Recruitment team – a sentiment echoed by Luke.  “If crew are keen to change departments, trying to get experience while they are on board their current yacht would be beneficial and make more sense. This would also be seen by a potential captain that they have thought about the career change,” explains the Viking Recruitment team. Luke, moreover, believes that in about 25 per cent of the cases, crew are able to make the transition on their current yacht.

One issue with switching from interior to deck is that your time at sea will not have counted towards your sea time, adds Luke. “Unfortunately while working in the interior the sea time does not count toward any of your deck ratings, so that clock will start ticking once you’ve been hired as a deckhand.”

But there is a plus, Luke adds. “Generally speaking, there is more opportunity for advancement and responsibility which also happens to equate in great financial gain.”

And all experience is good experience. “Additional skills are key overall,” explains the Viking Recruitment team. “It’s no longer enough to turn up in Antibes with a year or two of waitressing under your belt and hope to get a job. Candidates need something that will set them apart, whether it is diving, hairdressing, massage or anything else.”

If you have decided to make the switch between departments, we’d love to hear from you and find out why. Please comment below or email editor Lulu Trask at

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