Internships: Run Away to Sea

Sail News

You can make life afloat your vocation as well as your avocation 

Not the office type? College isn’t an option, or your degree in philosophy isn’t panning out? If a job in the marine trades sounds like your dream career but you don’t know where to start, here are three places to both get some good training and a foot in the door.

Dream Yacht Academy

Dream Yacht Charter a worldwide tourism organization with more than 60 charter bases in dozens of countries, is now offering four-week internships that groom applicants for two types of positions in the charter industry—marine mechanic and dock-team staff. The training is designed to teach practical skills and provide hands-on experience under the supervision of an experienced manager at the company’s base at the Stock Island Yacht Club & Marina in Key West, Florida.

The internships are free for successful applicants (who are also given accommodations and an allowance for expenses for the duration of the program). Better still, graduates can expect to be offered a job with DYC’s fleet afterward, so you can be working in the United States in summer or in the Caribbean in the winter in no time flat. Skipper, host and chef-training programs are coming soon.

“Due to our continued expansion in the United States, we have an increasing demand for skilled staff. At the moment, we know that many people are changing their careers right now, and it’s a great opportunity to join the exciting charter industry,” says DYC founder and president, Loïc Bonnet. For details, visit

OCC, Professional Mariner Program

The Professional Mariner Program is officially taught at the OCC School of Sailing & Seamanship in Newport Beach, California ( But don’t let the name fool you—it’s about way more than sailing. Captain Karen Prioleau heads the program, which includes coursework in navigation, yacht-keeping, engine maintenance, boathandling, sailing, radar ops and more. Students have gone on to work as technicians and installers, in charter or as crew on superyachts, since they also earn the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) rating needed for work in international waters, as part of the program.

Prioleau helps students with both research and land internships as well as full-time jobs. You can also do prep work for a Merchant Mariner Credential (USCG captain’s license), or with the full associate degree, you can even transfer to the California Maritime Academy. The Professional Mariner Certificate takes about a year to complete. The associate degree takes two.

Prioleau cites the example of a student who took a job on a 72ft sailboat after completing his studies, which led to travel through the South Pacific, a Panama Canal transit and a tour of Europe. Prioleau crossed paths with him again on the Caribbean island of Antigua where he was working as an engineer aboard a 185-footer. “If a student is willing to work hard, travel, and say, ‘yes’ to opportunities, then they will have great success,” she says.

Skagit Valley College

Skagit Valley College (, located in Washington State just north of Seattle, offers both an Associate in Applied Science degree (AAS) for marine maintenance technology and certificate options for mechanical and electrical technicians. The program prepares students for employment in marine propulsion, vessel systems and marine composites. The courses blend classroom study with hands-on experience and certification preparation. Nearly two dozen courses are offered under the degree umbrella, and graduates typically enjoy multiple job offers straight away since good technicians are in short supply. It takes one year to complete a certificate program and two years to obtain an AAS degree.

Jennifer King of K&R Marine and RV Service is a technician and an adjunct professor who teaches for the program in Anacortes and also runs an electronics shop. With instructors like her and her partner, Monica Reiss, real-world experience is guaranteed in this program that also prepares students for NMEA and ABYC certification—two gold standards in the recreational marine industry.

Bottom line: if you’d like your office to be a boat and your passion to be a career, then check out the marine trades. Currently, there are personnel shortages in these well-paying jobs, one of which just may be your ticket to both fulfill your dreams and see the world. 

May 2021

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