The 2015 Dockwalk Salary Survey Review: Captains

24 August 2015 By Hillary Hoffower

Dockwalk’s sixthsalary poll witnessed a record number of captain respondents, with almost 500captains weighing in with their pay information.

As crew agent Liam Dobbin pointed out in Dockwalk’s September issue feature,“Sticking with the Program,” captains’ compensation has dropped slightly from2014 to 2015. The numbers in the salary table, when compared to the salarytables from the 2014 Dockwalk SalarySurvey, certainly back this up for captains being paid in U.S. dollars.

For example, a captain on yachts ranging from 120–139 feethad a poll average of $11,545 this year compared to last year’s $12,334, withan agency range of $7,000–$12,000 compared to last year’s $10,000–$14,280.

However, when compared to the 2013 Salary Survey, thenumbers this year are more even, as a captain on the same size yacht made$11,111, according to the poll average, or $10,200­–$12,000, according to thecrew agency range. So although captains’ compensation has declined marginally,it appears to have stabilized to previous years’ levels.

It’s interesting to note that there is a small increase forcaptain wages paid in euros compared to 2014. For example, the poll average forcaptains working on yachts ranging from 55­–59 meters is €15,043,compared to last year’s €13,833, and the poll average for those on yachts 60 meters andup is €17,267compared to last year’s €15,920.

The graphs below, one for captains paid in euros and one forcaptains paid in U.S. dollars, demonstrate how longevity correlates to salary.The single line represents average salaries in U.S. dollars or euros,respectively, for that particular range of years, and the shaded area indicatesthe average boat length. Please notethat these two lines run independently of one another.

The number of years in the industry at the bottom is thebasis for both lines. The numbers at the points of the lines indicate therespective average for the corresponding number of years in the industry range.For example, using the U.S. dollar graph as reference, captains in the industryfor 21–25 years earn on average of $12,355 a month, and the average boat lengthfor that group is 131 feet.

By comparing the two lines against each other, it’s apparentthat the longer a captain is in the industry, the larger their vessel size,with both factors leading to a constantly increasing salary. To a point.

However, once captains reach around 30 years in theindustry, this trend reverses and both yacht size and salary decline. As you’llnote in the euro graph, there is a significant decrease. You could speculatefrom this that the trend is for captains to move to smaller vessels and acceptsmaller paychecks as, perhaps, they near retirement. This sampling is by nomeans representative of the industry as a whole, but it provides some food forthought.

It’s interesting to note a few outliers in the data. Forexample, one captain in the industry for 19 years makes $12,500 a month on a73-foot yacht when the average was $6,342. This also is interesting whencompared to the captain 35 years in the industry who makes roughly the sameamount ($12,000) on a 112-foot yacht.

Another similar outlier occurred with a captain in theindustry for 15 years working on a 145-foot yacht making $18,000 a month, whenthe average for that vessel size range was $14,188, and the captain in theindustry for 15 years working on a 164-foot yacht making $28,000, when theaverage for that vessel size range was $15,876.

There were fewer outliers among the salaries of captains whowere paid in euros. One exception was a master in the industry for 20 yearsworking on a 54-meter sailing yacht. He made €6,000 a month, which significantlycontrasted to the poll average of €12,935 for that vessel size range. Anothercaptain, in the industry for 17 years, makes €3,500 a month working on a33-meter sailing yacht, which is roughly half of the poll average (€6,366).Other captains working on the same-sized yacht have been in the industry for anequal or lesser time, yet all had a higher salary. It’s important to note thatthe majority of yachts in both of these ranges were motor yachts, whereas the two outliers happened to be wages for sailing yachts.

To get more information and view the salary survey feature,visit   

For further details, check out the extended version of the2015 Salary Survey table. You can download the U.S. version at the Euro version at