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The boating industry is growing at a steady pace, as more people turn to water for fun in the sun. Furthermore, chartering and owning boats aren’t as difficult as it once was, and is much more cost-effective. The proof is in the pudding: demand for recreational boating has grown by 8.2% every year between 2012 and 2017. In 2017, the spend on recreational boating had reached $14.1 billion. On a holiday weekend alone, over 10,000 boats are found in the water at just the Lake of the Ozarks.

There are many reasons for this trend. For starters, there are more outboard powerboats in production, and this accessibility has helped surge interest in recreational boating. Then, there’s the boat sharing economy, where boat enthusiasts can enjoy boating without having to invest in boats of their own.

If you’re interested in boating and want to either grow your current career or transition into a job you’re most passionate about, take a look at these four popular careers in the boating industry:

1. Boat Surveyor

A boat surveyor has an important job in the boating world. This is the person who is responsible for inspecting and examining all marine vessels to provide a thorough update on their condition. They also make sure that all the equipment onboard is compliant with current specifications and standards. This means that they examine every technological aspect of the boat, from the radio to the navigational system to the safety precautions available on board.

Furthermore, boat/marine surveyors are generally tasked with looking into a boat after an accident or damage. Traditional insurance inspectors typically aren’t well-versed enough in the intricate equipment of boats to properly evaluate the condition of the boat. Because of this, surveyors are often hired by inspectors to provide an unbiased view of the state of the vessel.

As such, boat surveyors are often in demand, and their skills are always needed. They are in demand for private companies, independent boat owners, insurance companies, and much more.

2. Sea Captain

There’s much more to be the captain of a boat than wearing a cool Captain’s hat. As a captain, you’re in charge of everything that happens on a boat and tasked with the responsibility of safely navigating the waters and creating an enjoyable and smooth sailing experience for everyone. They are in charge of setting the ship’s speed and course, avoiding any oncoming hazards, and monitoring the ship’s position.

To become a captain, you’ll have to formally apply for a license through the U.S. Coast Guard. When you attend a Coast Guard-approved Academy training course, you can expect coursework that includes electronic navigation, ship construction, meteorology, and maritime law.

Once you graduate, you’re expected to gain experience as a deck or deck officer. You can also skip out on academy training and instead go straight to working as a deckhand, however, you’ll be required to put in a much larger volume of sea hours. If you want to stand out above the rest, you should also opt to take continuing education courses, which keep you on par with developing technology in the industry and demonstrate your willingness to learn more and hone your craft.

3. Boating Tour Guides

There are hundreds upon hundreds of boating excursions and sailing trips. And of course, each of those trips requires an on-deck guide that knows the ins and outs of liveaboard life, the area you’re exploring, and how to make the most of any boating trip experience. Marine tours are designed to suit travelers of all kinds, who are either passionate about the water beyond the line of sight, or at least curious about it. From the Amazon to the Galapagos Islands to the towering icebergs in the Antarctic, you can become a boat tour guide in all parts of the world and build a successful career in the boating industry. 

4. Chef/Cook

Every boat needs a chef to ensure all the guests are properly fed. On some boats, you’ll be feeding a small crew, with just a handful of people, while on others, like a cruise ship, you’re tasked with managing a large group of cooks and feeding thousands. Either way, the chef’s job onboard is one of the most important roles.

If you enjoy the art of cooking and are thinking of taking your culinary skills out to sea, it’s helpful to research more about others who have been in that position. You’ll find that you typically start off in lower positions before you move up in the ranks, like a galley hand.

Careers In the Boating Industry

One anonymous head chef of a superyacht detailed his experiences in an interview with Munchies. He described the challenges of keeping enough produce on board to feed an entire crew, as well as the benefits. “I’m learning all the time. My boss sent me on a cooking course in Thailand, and when it’s off-season, he’s got me working in his Michelin-starred restaurant,” he said. And then, in addition to pretty good wages, tips are pretty high too for a cooking career in the boating industry.


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