Sailing instructor

Sailing instructors teach people to sail yachts and boats.

Average annual salary (starting - experienced): £16,000 - £28,000

Typical hours (a week): 36 - 38

How to become a sailing instructor

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • specialist courses run by professional bodies


You could work towards this job by doing a relevant college course, for example:

  • Level 2 and Level 3 Watersport Instructor Diploma
  • Level 3 Diploma in Skills and Activities for Sport and Active Leisure (Outdoor Education)

You'll need to check that your chosen course includes the professional qualifications to become a sailing instructor.

College (Entry requirements)

You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course


You could start by doing an outdoor activities instructor or outdoor programmes advanced apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship (Entry requirements)

There are no set entry requirements but it may help you to get in if you have:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

Other routes

You can do Royal Yachting Association (RYA) courses. The RYA is the national governing body for sailing, and sets standards for training instructors.

You'll need to be:

  • over 16 years old
  • physically fit and able to swim
  • a competent, experienced sailor

You'll also need to pass a sailing assessment and do further study before you can start training as a sailing instructor with the RYA.

Courses are done at local sailing clubs or with private training companies.

More info

Career tips You'll need to requalify as a sailing instructor every 5 years, and must have a valid first aid certificate.

What it takes

Skills & Knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • the ability to teach pupils how to do something
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restriction & Requirements

You'll need to:

  • be over 16 years of age

You'll need to be a member of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) to qualify or revalidate as an RYA instructor.

What you'll do

Day to day

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • preparing and presenting lessons
  • teaching safety on dry land and drills on water
  • demonstrating boat handling and sailing techniques
  • assessing your students' abilities
  • keeping attendance records
  • recording and reporting accidents or boat damage
  • informing students of changes to lessons due to bad weather
  • care and maintenance of boats

Working environment

You could work in a sailing club or at a marina. Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically active. You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

Career path and progression

Career path & progression

You could move into a supervisory or management job within a sailing club. You could also become an instructor for other types of sailing vessels, like yachts and powerboats.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.
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