In today’s market, the role of the Purser has evolved so dramatically that we need to change how we define it when training and recruiting for this position.

What is a purser?

The role of Purser was traditionally the individual responsible for managing the administration, accounts and purchasing on board. This was often the Chief Stewardess who progressed up the interior chain of command into that position.

Today, the role has evolved to take in responsibilities across all departments, both on-board and land-based. With the new extensive list of guest services and operations, alongside complex crew operations, extended HR services and a growing list of hundreds of daily admin tasks to be tackled, many don’t have the varied skill set to deliver on all these tasks.

This single role title has changed so dramatically over the last 15 years and could become even more complex over the coming decade. It’s a problem we can’t ignore any longer.

How have things changed?

As the founder of the Purser Course for The Crew Academy in 2008, I have seen the entire yacht market evolve into what it is today.

Yachting now consists of a marketplace fast approaching 1000 large vessels (over 50m), extensive fleets operating in multiple oceans across the planet and a handful of new builds over 200m with crew numbers in their hundreds.

As with all rapid market growth, change brings its challenges. As we have seen the Purser role morph, there is now a clear need for training these new skill sets. Reaching out to a larger yet more refined demographic and funnelling specialist professional crew into these new roles.

A skills shortage

With fewer highly qualified professional crews that possess the knowledge, training, and experience to do the job properly, we are facing HR challenges as the job market grows.

We see ever-younger crew on deck, in the bridge and in the interior in charge of 50+ crew and budgets that now far exceed what a mid-sized commercial business would have. Yet often this is managed by non-professionalised, uncertified, untrained crew members.

No legal entity or company would hand over their accounting to anyone unqualified, nor would they allow their HR to be managed by someone inexperienced and no industry should ever allow this growing problem to continue to go unchecked.

This is not the crew’s fault. It’s up to the industry as a whole to solve this problem.

What can we do?

We are asking all crew — across departments — to think hard about what skill they are lacking. Then, to take steps to fill those gaps by studying with us at The Crew Academy or at any other training establishment.

This could be: Accounting and Budgeting, Maritime Law, Destination Management and Event Planning, Human Resources, Contract Management, Recruitment, Mental Health, Leadership, Inventory Management, Safeguarding and dozens of other short-form skills.

Recruiters should also be changing the way they present the roles they are offering and look to be more forensic about the tasks and skill sets needed to fulfil the job specifications. All too often recruiters take the easy path and publish a Purser role or a CS with Purser duties.

Yet many of them have no idea what the role actually entails, and the skills needed in order to perform that role at the top of their game.

A unique set of skills

Our other concern about the diversification of the Purser role is that many crew members view this role simply as a step up or a rite of passage after having been a Chief Stewardess.

In fact, it is completely different and requires a unique person and a unique set of skills.

A Chief Stew doesn’t deal with many of the tasks that sit within the remit of the Pursers until they are in the hot seat, so it shouldn’t be an automatic promotion into the role.

Often, this sets the Chief Stewardesses up for failure as, in many cases, they don’t have the necessary qualifications nor expertise in the compliance, accounting, law and other extremely important parts of the role. Often, they simply don’t enjoy the relative lack of crew and guest interaction that comes with the job as it can be a solitary role.

This role is so important that as vessels and crew numbers grow, it should be a department of its own. The titles that go with this department should also reflect the tasks being performed and not simply lumped in with the interior. The role should be open to anyone onboard the vessel to apply for including transfering from the deck or bridge

Get qualified

Our Purser programmes provide you with the ​​skills, knowledge, and confidence to thrive and progress in your career. Whether in-person or live-online, our IAMI GUEST accredited courses will teach you everything about the role, including operations, destination management, accounting and lots more.

Click here to see the full list of dozens of programs on offer to you.

Visit the GUEST website and feel free to call any of the team at The Crew Academy and The Crew Hunter.

For general enquiries about recruitment or training please contact

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