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How to become Yacht Project Manager and Yacht Consultant

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by yoel, Jan 13, 2022.

  1. yoel

    yoel New Member

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    I'm a Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering student and I'm on my way to get my bachelor degree. The role that I hope to cover is the figure of the project manager and the yacht consultant and this is the reason of my post, I hope to find someone with more experience than me and maybe that had my similar doubts and path that can clear my mind. I know that those are roles in which is requested so much experience, so based on that I have some doubts to how reach my goal. My main question is about what I have to looking for as a recent graduate, in particular of what kind of job offers I have to consider in terms of usefulness for my career. Then I want to know how the training process works, because as a fresh graduate without experience I suppose that I don't have all the knowledge for cover the PM role at the beginning. The last thing is about the fact if the bachelor degree is enough or not to start this journey. Thanks.
  2. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Your first order of business would be to learn how a yacht and it's systems operate, how owners use them. So probably a job as a junier engineer. You cannot project manage or consult if you have NO IDEA of how the yachts and yachting world operate. Generally project managers are Yacht Captains or senior engineers that have 20+ years of experience.
    Capt Ralph likes this.
  3. yoel

    yoel New Member

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    Thanks for your answer but what about the degree? Is a bachelor enough to start this kind of path in your opinion? Or a Master is fundamental?
  4. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    It s all about experience. Like capt J a path thru engineer would be a good start as well as working in a yard or for a builder.

    no degree can teach you about what happens in the real world
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  5. yoel

    yoel New Member

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    I know but without degree I cannot have also the opportunity to being considered by yacht companies for this reason I was asking about what is the most wise choice to take. I'm more a practical person rather than theoretical, I prefeer to learn on the field rather than a book.
  6. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    I'm going to take a different approach to it. For the approach I suggest, your degree is important and a Masters would add value. You could then start work for a Naval Architect or a Designer or Builder in a junior capacity. Are you attending a Maritime College or a general college? The reason I ask is that most who pursue Naval Architecture in the US in Maritime Colleges, graduate as 3rd Assistant Engineer. A common path is Marine Engineering as an undergrad and then Naval Architecture a a graduate student.

    Marine Engineering leads to a broader range of positions than Naval Architecture. If you're strictly Naval Architecture, you'll need to learn more by working for other Naval Architects.

    As to more practical than theoretical, Naval Architecture is very heavily theory based and much has to be learned in a book. It's science. Engineering requires a tremendous amount of book learning itself. If you don't like learning from books, then you're not likely to ever be a top engineer in my opinion because as much as you learn in the field, you have to study more to verify. You see a new situation and that means you need to research it. You do so by both documents and contacts.

    Every job has a percentage of on practical training and a percentage of book training. While all in yachting require some of both, Captains are more on the practical side than engineers who are very dependent on the book side. None of our captains, and we employee 5 plus both my wife and I are captains, have been to a 4 year maritime college, but all have been to other maritime schools. However, 3 of our 4 engineers have been to major maritime colleges.

    A marine engineer would generally start at an entry level engineer, 3rd assistant, on a yacht or on a commercial ship. Commercial allows you to build time and experience more rapidly and grow from 3rd assistant to Chief Engineer more quickly.

    You are at least 10 years from being capable of managing a project on your own but under the supervision of someone else, and likely 15-20 years from being able to consult independently.

    You need to figure out what direction you want your career to take, whether engineering or naval architecture, and then develop a path accordingly.
  7. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    Interesting perspective. But I want any engineers working on my build to have a working knowledge of what works and doesn't work in reality. I would promote a path in the private sector (or Port Authority, I guess) during which real working knowledge is achieved. In theory you can build a house from the roof down, but reality shows us the reverse to be more practical. Time on board, at sea, hands on is such an incredible source of information.
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Perhaps you underestimate how much hands on experience and engineering student in a Maritime College gets. Most of the schools have a training boat. In addition, the students are generally required to spend a summer as an intern with either commercial or military. In addition, we've found these engineers able to quickly adapt to new situations as they know how to educate themselves further. There is not a clear proven private sector path. Form the foundation on which they can continue to build. Don't try to build without a strong foundation.
  9. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    They do get experience in on a ship in a Maritime College, however, a small percentage of that actually crosses over to yachts. There are so many systems on a yacht that a ship just simply doesn't have, and systems on a ship that a yacht doesn't have. Yes, book learning and school learning are great, but having a working knowledge of which systems you need, why you need them and how they're used is invaluable and only experienced in the real world.
  10. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Rule one, You want a job, Ya got to start at the bottom and work up. Your engineering degree may help with quick advancement.
    Rule two, There are already hungry people out there wanting (or trying) to do the same thing. They also are reading rule one.
  11. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    As someone who actually employs Nav Arch’s, Marine Engineer’s and Project Managers, here’s my input. Although my experience is commercial shipyard, not yachts, it is relevant and applies to your questions.

    If you want to design yachts, be the next innovator of the latest stability improvements and hydrodynamic accomplishments, then go be a Nav Arch. Most Nav Arch’s do not follow a path into project management. Although I do have 1 person that is a Nav Arch and went into PM as he preferred it.

    Marine Engineers are a mixed bag. Many, perhaps most, go the route of sailing and working their way up to a Chief Engineer if they decide to keep sailing. Some get tired of life at sea, usually when they meet a potential spouse, and when they want to come ashore they either become a Port Engineer/Owner Rep or work in the yards. Some that have good business acumen and that can learn the art of project management go that route.

    Many of our Project Managers went to one of the maritime colleges (King’s Point, Cal Maritime, Webb, etc). Many took the shipyard management route, others Marine Engineer. Then a bunch of our PM’s are from various other colleges with PMP certificates not necessarily from the marine sector.

    My personal path was different. I started in the shipyard right out of high school as an entry level trade worker. I started by cleaning toilets and greasing cranes. I did 15 years in the trades and made my way as far as I could there. I used my foundational trade skills then became a Dockmaster (hence the name). I started managing small projects and liked it so started doing more of this and did well as a PM. I went to night school as I was working and earned a Business Management degree but not until I was 20+ years into my career. I became a PM, delivered results then was promoted to Sr. Pm, Director and on up. Now I run a business unit doing hundreds of millions a year in revenue. I firmly believe my 15 years in the trades was the greatest contributor to my success. It gives me an understanding and perspective of the challenges of actually doing the work that most of my management team will never understand. It also contributes to the respect I have from my workforce because they know I speak their language and understand their issues.

    My point of all this you ask? Get whatever degree you want. Go work hard and deliver results and you can have whatever path you want. Be patient and gain the much needed experience along the way.
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  12. yoel

    yoel New Member

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    Thanks @DOCKMASTER, your answer is very inspirational to me. I maybe had not specified that I'm an Italian student and I'm studying Naval Architecture in the local University. Obviously I know how hard is the path to reach a pm position with the skills required, wasn't my intention to seem an impatient boy that wanted everything as soon as possible. Your answer is pretty exhaustive and inspirational because the aspect of run my own business is also a thing that is on my mind for a long term project for when I'll be able to understand the sector, the business concepts and the sufficient experience in this world.


    I want to point out to @olderboater that with my sentence ''I'm more practical than theoretical'' that I was meaning the fact that I can't wait to have the hands on the real work, even if does it means to start with remove shells from hulls. The problem is that here in Italy University is structured all in theoretical subjects, most of them (bachelor degree) aren't specifically linked with marine/naval stuff. We haven't yet had the pleasure to visit a shipyard or a ship so, in my case but I guess also for my colleagues, we are certainly looking forward for what will come. If I didn't liked to study I wouldn't have chosen such a hard course of study and such a skilled-required dream job
  13. ranger58sb

    ranger58sb Senior member

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    Yoel, I'll add to what others have said... Project Management is a skill field too, not just an add-on to fields like Naval Architecture or Engineering. Generally PM curricula over here fall into the Business Management arena.

    In our university system it's common to have Major and Minor fields of study, and it's also possible to work out a double Major and/or double Minor pathway to where you want to be... so adding BM/PM courses could be a way to help get you where you want to be.

    -Chris
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022
  14. motoryachtlover

    motoryachtlover Senior Member

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    I firmly believe my 15 years in the trades was the greatest contributor to my success. It gives me an understanding and perspective of the challenges of actually doing the work that most of my management team will never understand. It also contributes to the respect I have from my workforce because they know I speak their language and understand their issues.

    DM that was very well said. I learned my businesses from the ground up as well. I still go in the field today every so often to experience the jobsite. Construction related industries are prone to upper management having a real disconnect with the realities of the field if they didn’t come up in the field. You don’t know how many times i have heard how could that take so long. Well if you have come up in the trades you will know the answer.
  15. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    I didn’t take anything you said as indication you are impatient. To the contrary, I was impressed with your questions and the dialogue. I would encourage you to do some soul searching and decide what you really want to do. As I said earlier, if you want to be a PM I’m not clear why you are doing the Nav Arch route? Let me say this another way; I can subcontract out engineering and Nav Arch work all day long. No shortage of good engineering folks and companies I can hire on an as needed basis. But a good PM is nearly impossible to find. We are a very project centric organization and our PMs have full autonomy on our projects. Not many that can handle the pressure and do a good job.