How do I Become a Chief Steward?

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  • Written By: Patrick Roland
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Images By: National Library Of Ireland On The Commons, James Steidl
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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No matter if a person's aim is working on a luxury cruise liner or a merchant marine vessel, it takes dedication and training to become a chief steward. By mastering all of the various positions within the kitchen and hospitality staff he or she will be prepared to oversee a ship's stewards and stewardesses in this position. Typically, several years of experience are needed before moving into this role.

A chief steward is a valuable crew member in nearly every type of passenger ship on the ocean. Everything from small yachts with a few guests, to enormous boats carrying thousands of sailors depend on the skills of a chief steward. Primarily, this person manages all of the on-board cooking and cleaning staff, while also handling some of the more complex duties himself.

Like many jobs, if a person wants to become a chief steward, experience is the key. In most cases, he or she will not need any special education or degree. Signing on as part of a ship's cooking staff is a great way to begin. While he or she will most likely start at the bottom rung of the ladder, maybe as a dishwasher or line cook, this is a great place to start learning all the various positions in the kitchen.


Anyone aiming to become a chief steward must also have a mastery of all housekeeping duties of a ship. He or she may have to begin emptying trash cans or mopping floors, but every new task will help get closer to the head job. Clearly, at some point, a person must cross over from the kitchen to the cleaning staff or vice versa. Speaking with the head steward about these desires is a great way to get mentoring and insight.

Once an understanding of the kitchen and housekeeping world is attained, most have one more step to become a chief steward. Working as a steward's assistant provides great experience in the employee management, duty delegation, communication, and bookkeeping skills necessary to succeed. This is the best way to attain a full understanding of the pressures of running a ship's kitchen and cleaning services in order to be promoted to a chief steward.

Many claim it takes at least five years or more to gain the necessary experience to become a chief steward. By working a variety of kitchen and cleaning duties, a person can fully grasp the job. Anyone who loves management and has a good work ethic has what it takes to be a chief steward.


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