tall ship sailor

How to Train to Become a Tall Ship Sailor [6 Steps]

Are you fascinated by the beauty and grace of tall ships? Do you have a passion for adventure and a desire to explore the world while sailing the high seas? If so, becoming a tall ship sailor might be just what you are looking for!

Tall ships are majestic sailing vessels that have stood the test of time. These ships, used in earlier times for exploration and trade, are now mainly used for training purposes and as tourist attractions. However, there are still plenty of people who choose to make a career on board a tall ship. If you are wondering how to become a tall ship sailor, we have the information you need to get started.

In this article, we will guide you through the steps and tips on how to train to become a tall ship sailor.

The Benefits of Being a Tall Ship Sailor

Being a tall ship sailor can be a rewarding and fulfilling career or hobby. You will have the opportunity to:

  • Explore different places and cultures around the world
  • Experience the beauty and thrill of sailing on a historic vessel
  • Learn valuable skills and knowledge that can be applied in other fields
  • Meet new people and make lifelong friends
  • Develop your leadership, teamwork, and communication abilities
  • Contribute to the preservation and promotion of maritime heritage

The Challenges of Being a Tall Ship Sailor

However, being a tall ship sailor also comes with some challenges and drawbacks.

  • Long hours and demanding work conditions
  • Limited space and privacy on board
  • Exposure to harsh weather and potential hazards
  • Physical and mental stress and fatigue
  • Low pay and irregular income
  • Limited career advancement opportunities

Therefore, before you decide to pursue this path, you should weigh the pros and cons carefully.

The Best Ways to Gain Experience and Skills as a Tall Ship Sailor

Before you jump in and start training, it is important to understand the demands of a career as a tall ship sailor.

This is not a job for the faint of heart. The hours can be long, the work can be physically and mentally challenging, and you will be living in close quarters with your fellow crew members for extended periods of time.

That being said, a career as a tall ship sailor can be incredibly rewarding, with opportunities to see the world, experience new cultures, and develop lifelong skills.

Step 1: Research Your Options

The first step in training to become a tall ship sailor is to research your options. There are many different types of tall ships, ranging from historic vessels to modern training ships.

Research the different types of tall ships out there and decide which is best suited to your interests and goals. Reach out to organizations that operate tall ships and ask about training programs and job opportunities.

Step 2: Build Your Maritime Skills

Once you have decided on the type of tall ship you want to pursue, it is time to start building your maritime skills. This can be done through a variety of means, including formal training programs, on-the-job training, and volunteer opportunities.

If you are serious about pursuing a career as a tall ship sailor, enrolling in a maritime school or training program is an excellent option. These programs provide hands-on training and classroom instruction on topics such as navigation, sailing techniques, and safety protocols. Many also offer internships and job placement services.

If you don’t have the time or financial resources to enroll in a formal training program, consider volunteering on a tall ship. Many organizations that operate tall ships accept volunteers, including those with little to no experience. This can be an excellent way to get your foot in the door and start building your maritime skills.

Step 3: Obtain the Necessary Certifications

Before you can officially become a tall ship sailor, you will need to obtain the necessary certifications. These certifications are required by law and ensure that you have the skills and knowledge to perform your job safely and effectively.

The certifications you will need will vary depending on your role on the tall ship. For example, if you plan to work as a deckhand, you will need a merchant mariner credential. This credential confirms that you have met the training, experience, and other requirements necessary to work on board a vessel in US waters.

Other certifications that may be required include a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), which is required for all workers who need access to secure areas of US ports, and a First Aid/CPR certification.

Step 4: Practice Good Communication Skills

Effective communication is essential for a successful career as a tall ship sailor. When you are working on board a tall ship, you will be living and working in close quarters with a diverse group of people. It is important to be able to communicate clearly and respectfully to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

Practice good communication skills by actively listening to others, being clear and concise in your own communication, and respecting cultural differences.

Step 5: Gain Experience

Once you have your certifications and have built your maritime skills, it is time to gain practical experience. Many organizations that operate tall ships offer opportunities for crew members to gain experience through sail training programs and voyages.

During these programs and voyages, you will gain real-world experience in sailing, navigation, and shipboard operations. You will also have the opportunity to work alongside experienced sailors and learn from them.

Step 6: Network and Build Relationships

Networking and building relationships are essential for finding job opportunities as a tall ship sailor. Attend industry events and conferences, join maritime associations, and connect with other sailors through social media.

Building relationships with other sailors and industry professionals can help you learn about job opportunities and get your foot in the door. It can also lead to mentorship opportunities and valuable advice from those who have been in the industry for years.


Becoming a tall ship sailor is a unique and challenging career choice that requires dedication and hard work.

However, with the proper training, certifications, and experience, it can also be an incredibly rewarding and exciting career. Use the steps outlined above to start your journey on the path to becoming a tall ship sailor.

By building your skills, practicing good communication, and networking with others in the industry, you can make your dream of sailing the high seas a reality.