From cadet to officer on superyachts

Providing a unique pathway into the superyacht industry

The UKSA Superyacht Cadetship is a structured programme designed to train the future officers of the superyacht industry. The cadetship combines the most relevant training and mentoring, equipping graduates with a strong foundation of knowledge and realistic understanding of the industry they are entering in to.

The four-year programme is a career path to STCW II/1 Officer of the Watch (Yacht <3000GT) and onward to STCW II/2 Master (Yacht <3000GT) qualification, and was designed in consultation with the MCA.

A cadet manoeuvring a small boat while on his UKSA Cadetship

By combining academic study and practical paid work on superyachts, cadet graduates are now forging long term careers within this elite industry. Working closely with leading crew agents, management companies, yacht captains and our own in-house placement service, our cadets are now employed in all areas of the sector, from private performance racing superyachts to the largest, most high-profile motor vessels.

Who is a typical cadet?

Cadets are generally aged between 18 and 25-years-old and are drawn from a variety of backgrounds. Some are experienced watersports professionals or competitive sailors and have displayed a strong work ethic from their early teens. Many have achieved success in the Sea Cadets or Scouts, or have completed their Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. Others simply have the drive and determination to succeed.

Combining your cadetship with a Foundation Degree

Cadets also have the opportunity to undertake a Foundation Degree in Operational Yacht Science during phase 1 and 3 of the cadetship, awarded by Plymouth University. This option provides additional career and training pathways into different sectors of the maritime industry.

Pre-requisite experience

  • Applicants should be between 18 and 25 with a commitment to a long-term career within the superyacht industry.
  • Excellent communication, oral and written skills, are essential, as is a good understanding of mathematics.
  • Cadets should ideally have GCSEs grades 9-4 (or equivalent) in English, Maths & Science.
  • If applying for the Foundation Degree alongside the Superyacht Cadetship 48 UCAS points are required.

How to apply in 3 easy steps

  1. To apply, you will need to contact a course adviser who will provide you with an application form to complete and discuss your suitability.
  2. The next step is to attend a 2-day cadet selection at UKSA.
  3. On selection days you will take part in team building exercises, complete aptitude tests, deliver a presentation on a superyacht of your choice and sit an interview where you will be required to demonstrate a proven interest in a long-term career within the superyacht industry. A £1,730 refundable deposit is required to secure your place on your preferred selection date.

Please call us on +44 (0)1983 203038 or email [email protected] for further information and how to apply.

Funding – we are here to support you

As a charity, we have funding opportunities available for many of our students.

UKSA can help with assisted funding of up to £11,000 towards the Superyacht Cadetship Programme. Please follow the link for further information on UKSA’s Superyacht Cadetship Funding, initiative. Alternatively please talk to one of our course advisers who will be able to provide you with the details, assess your eligibility.

A great Alternative to University, our cadets can graduate debt-free!

Please note, even if you are not eligible for financial support, most of our cadets earn enough during the work phases to more than cover the next phases of training. You really could graduate debt free, with all your required qualifications and work experience to work in the industry.

The Superyacht Cadetship training programme in detail

Phase 1 – Essential Cadetship Training:  To launch your Superyacht Career – 19 weeks (academic study)

The cadet will develop skills and knowledge of seamanship and safety as well as industry qualifications and fitness. Mentoring and guidance will help the cadet obtain entry-level deck positions on superyachts, progressing into long-term opportunities within the sector.

Qualification gained 

  • RYA Yachtmaster Offshore
  • STCW Basic Safety Training
  • Proficiency in Designated Security Duties
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
  • RYA Tender Operator Course
  • Superyacht Deck Maintenance Training
  • RYA Personal Watercraft Proficiency (Jet-Ski)
  • MCA Approved Engine Course (AEC)
  • RYA Radar and Simulator training
  • Industry Guidance
  • Personal Mentoring
  • Foundation Degree in Operational Yacht Science, Year One course
UKSA Crew FO Top Cadet 2018

Megan Jones – 2018 Crew FO Top Cadet

Phase 2 – Cadetship Industry Phase: Working onboard superyachts – the world as your classroom – 12-18 months (paid employment)

The cadet will be employed on a 24m+ yacht as an entry-level deckhand, following the guidance of the MCA Training Record Book with mentor support from UKSA.

Phase 3 – Yacht Operations and Management: Stepping up the ranks & taking on more serious roles – 3 weeks (academic study)

This is the link to progression from junior deckhand to lead deckhand. Training builds on the cadet’s working experience. Completion of Foundation Degree. (Additional time-based at Falmouth University)

Qualification gained:

  • RYA Yachtmaster Ocean (Shorebased)
  • MCA Efficient Deck Hand
  • Superyacht Business skills
  • UKSA Phase Five Officer of the Watch (OOW) preparation
  • Foundation Degree in Operational Yacht Science, Year Two completion

Phase 4 – Cadetship Industry Phase:  12-18 months (paid employment)

During this phase the cadet will gain watch keeping experience, in line with the MCA Training Record Book, practically applying and honing the techniques and practices learned.

Phase 5 – Cadetship completion training: from Cadet to Officer of the Watch (OOW) – 8 weeks (academic study)

This is the final stage of Officer of the Watch 3000gt training. Building on training and experience gained over the period of the course, cadets will study senior modules towards final examination and qualification competencies MCA Officer of the Watch Modules:

Qualification gained:

  • General Ship Knowledge (GOC)
  • Navigation and Radar (OOW Yacht)
  • Human Element, Leadership and Management (Operational Level)
  • Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boat (Restricted)
  • Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS)
  • GMDSS General Operators Certificate (GOC)
  • Oral Preparation Officer of the Watch (Yachts less than 3000gt)

Find out about this stage from a graduate Tory Armstrong.


1. ENG 1 Medical – You must have an ENG 1 seafarer medical fitness certificate to work at sea if you are a seafarer, in charge of a ship or are serving on a merchant ship or yacht. The maximum fee for an ENG 1 medical examination is £80, must be issued by a doctor approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).  Please follow the link below to see a list of all MCA approved doctors based in the UK.

MCA approved doctors: UK-based

2. Commercial Endorsement – to commercially endorse your RYA Yachtmaster Certification you will need to apply to the RYA directly, enclosing relevant documents and pay a £33 fee. See the RYA Commercial Endorsement page for information.

*An optional qualification, requires academic pre-requisites. Please budget for an extra £300 for accommodation in Falmouth if opting for the Foundation Degree.