The 2015 Dockwalk Salary Survey Review: Crew

28 August 2015By Hillary Hoffower

We took a look at captains’ compensation, and now it’s timeto review the wages of the other 1,200-plus crew that responded to Dockwalk’s annual salary survey. Below,you’ll find a breakdown of the five most common positions: chefs, chiefengineers, chief stews, chief/first mates and deckhands.

Two graphs accompany eachposition — one for those paid in U.S. dollars and one for those paid in euros(click on the graph to view it larger) — that demonstrate how longevitycorrelates to salary. The single line represents the average salaries inrelation to the number of years in the industry quoted by the respondents, andthe shaded area indicates the average boat length related to the year range. Please note that these two data lines runindependently of one another.

The number of years in the industry at thebottom is the basis for both lines. The numbers at the points of the linesindicate the respective average for the corresponding years in the industryrange. For example, using the U.S. dollar chef graph as reference, chefs in theindustry for 16–20 years earn on average $9,867 a month, and the average boatlength for that group is 152 feet.


Chefspaid in U.S. dollars are receiving just as much, if not more than last year.For chefs working on yachts ranging 80­–99 feet, 140–159 feet and 160–179 feet,wages according to the poll average are relatively the same, but have increasedslightly for yachts ranging 100–119 feet, 120–139 feet and 180 feet and up. Figures provided bycrew agencies indicate that salaries haven’t budged much when compared to lastyear, but the poll range shows overall slightly higher wages.

Bothagency and poll figures show an overall slight increase from last year in chefwages paid in euros, with the exception of chefs working on yachts 50–54meters. While agency figures indicated a higher range up by €2,000 for that yacht size, thepoll average is €4,767 compared to last year’s €7,443. However, it must be notedthat five or fewer chefs from vessels in that size range weighed in this year.

Uponlooking at the graphs, you’ll notice that chefs paid in euros are on largeryachts the longer they’re in the industry until a reversal occurs after the11–15 year mark, when vessel length declines. The same trend is mimicked withthe salary line, but the reversal occurs at an earlier point — at six to 10years, wages begin to decline. Due to the survey being a numbers game, therewas no input from crew as to why the trend occurred.

Chefspaid in U.S. dollars also see salary and vessel length decline at a certainpoint — for salary, it’s 16–20 years, for vessel length it’s 26–30 years — butwitness a few increases and decreases in both salary and vessel size(uncorrelated to one another) on the way to these points, creating aninconsistent trend.

Chief Engineer:

Therewasn’t a consistent trend among chief engineers paid in U.S. dollars and euroswhen compared to last year. While some vessel size ranges remained stable,others witnessed an increase or decrease in compensation, but these wereslight.

Oneexception lies in chief engineers paid in U.S. dollars on larger vessels. Thepoll range for those working on yachts 180 feet and up is $12,741 compared tolast year’s $27,671, and the poll range this year is $7,000­–$18,167 comparedto $7,800–$55,000. While the agency range for the average high has remainedstable at $15,000 and up, the average low decreased this year from $12,000 to$6,500.

Forchief engineers paid in U.S. dollars, yacht size and compensation increaseuntil longevity reaches a certain point and a reversal occurs (albeit with a smalldip in vessel size at 11–15 years, followed by a sharp increase). In this case,it’s after working for 16–20 years.

However,it’s quite notable that such a reversal never occurs for chief engineers paidin euros. Salary and vessel size continues to rise until 21–25 years, whensalary plateaus and vessel size continues to increase.

It’simportant to note that agencies have better defined their salary ranges thisyear and inconsistent input from crew can skew results in all positions.

Chief Stew:

Whilecrew agency ranges indicate a slight salary decrease across the board for chiefstews paid in U.S. dollars, with the exception of the high average for thoseworking on yachts 180 feet and up, poll averages and ranges speak a differentstory — they show a slight increase in wages consistent in each vessel size range.Either way, these differences are not huge and compensation ultimately remainsrelatively stable.

Thesame rings true, in essence, for those paid in euros. While the salaries vary alittle more when compared to last year, showing some increases in some vesselranges and decreases in others, the changes are very minimal and therefore are prettystable.

It’sinteresting to note that salary is inconsistent when it comes to longevity, aschief stews paid in euros and U.S. dollars all see an increase in salary in thebeginning, followed by a decline after working a certain number of years,ending with another increase in salary the longer they’re in the industry. Forchief stews who receive wages in euros, this decline happens much earlier thanfor chief stews who receive wages in U.S. dollars, at six to 10 years, comparedto 11–15 years, with both salaries picking back up at 16–20 years.

Thevessel size clearly correlates with the salary line in the euros graph. Whilevessel size increases until 11 to 15 years and then decreases in the U.S.dollars graph, following the salary trend, it continues to decrease, neverpicking back up when salary does at 16 to 20 years.

Chief/First Mate:

Sincethe salaries of first officers and first mates were combined last year, asopposed to having two separate categories this year, it’s a little difficult toascertain just how much salaries for this position have changed. If you’d liketo take a look, you can view the September 2014 extended tables here and here and those for September 2015 here and here.

Judgingfrom the graph for chief/first mates paid in U.S. dollars, the years spent inthe industry have opposite influences when comparing vessel length andsalaries. Both lines follow an up and down trend, increasing and decreasing forevery other year range, but are inverse of one another. For example, whensalary increases at six to 10 years in the industry, vessel size decreases. Vesselsize increases initially between 11–15 years, but salary declines at thispoint.

Thegraph for chief/first mates paid in euros reflects a more correlated trend. Whilean inverse for salary and vessel length occurs at six to 10 years and 11–15years, both lines remain in sync, following a decrease and then increase.However, it must be noted that there were zero respondents for those in theindustry for 16–20 years.


Comparedto last year, most deckhands — both those paid in euros and U.S. dollars — witnessa very slight increase in salary, with a few vessel size ranges seeing a smalldecrease. However, these differences are all less than $1,000 or €1,000when looking at the poll averages,so wages overall remain relatively the same.

Uponlooking at the graphs, you’ll instantly notice that deckhands aren’t in theindustry for longer than 10 years, either because they choose to leave or moveup the ladder. For deckhands paid in euros and those paid in U.S. dollars, bothwitness a decline in both vessel size and salary the longer they’re in theindustry. The decline for those paid in U.S. dollars is much steeper than thosepaid in euros; however, those paid in U.S. dollars also start out with a highersalary.

To get more information andview the salary survey feature, visit

For further details, checkout the extended version of the 2015 Salary Survey table. You can download theU.S. version at the Euro version at