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Sailing instructor

Alternative titles for this job include

Sailing instructors teach people to sail yachts and boats.

Average salary (a year)

£16,000 Starter


£28,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

36 to 38 seasonal

You could work

freelance / self-employed as customers demand

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become 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 3 Diploma in Sport and Outdoor Activities

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

Entry requirements

You may need:

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

More Information


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

This usually takes around 12 months to complete as a mix of learning on the job and study.

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

More Information

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 Information

Career tips

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

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a sailing instructor from the Royal Yachting Association.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and 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

Restrictions and 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

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In your day-to-day duties you could:

  • prepare and present lessons
  • teach safety on dry land and drills on water
  • demonstrate boat handling and sailing techniques
  • assess your students' abilities
  • keep attendance records
  • record and report accidents or boat damage
  • inform students of changes to lessons due to bad weather
  • help to maintain the 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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and 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.

Sailing instructors can work on a contract or freelance basis.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprentice

  • Wage: £10,011.46 a year Annually

Apprentice Instructor

  • Wage: £12,480 a year Annually

Courses In England

National Foundation Diploma in Sport and Outdoor Development Activities

  • Start date: 01 September 2024
  • Location: Chelmsford

BTEC National Extended Diploma in Sport and Outdoor Activities

  • Start date: 01 September 2024
  • Location: Rotherham

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