Frequently Asked Questions
Because "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity". And that's what we provide -- preparation and opportunity.
Your preparation begins when you download the Alaska Fishing Jobs Handbook, and read it. It's free, and it contains the most esential information you need to excel as a first-time crewmember on an Alaskan fishing boat. That's the preparation.
Your opportunity begins when you become a member of AFJC and post your crew profile. The crew profile is comprised of both "application" and "narrative" sections that present to hiring skippers a real picture of who you are and what you're all about. A steadily increasing number of skippers have been hiring from our website since 1989, and as we continually improve our website we expect more and more of them to make AFJC their first stop when they go looking for crew.
Your membership at AFJC costs less than $40.00, about what you'd pay for a couple movie tickets and a pizza.
Which is the better investment - another movie and a pizza, or the possibility of an amazing job and the adventures of a lifetime?
We'll let you in on a secret. Every crewmember and every skipper in Alaska started out as a "greenhorn". So did almost everyone ever hired through AFJC. Check out our Testimonials page to hear from a few of them.
Fishing seasons follow the natural rhythms and behaviors of fish, so different kinds of fishing boats are active at different times of year. The heaviest hiring months fo the year, however, are April/May/June, when salmon boat crews are filling up. Salmon boats present the largest volume of entry-level positions across all of Alaska's fishing fleets, and they provide the learning experiences that qualify crewmembers to work on many other kinds of boats.
Through AFJC, you will be "visible" and available to every kind of fishing boat skipper. Some hire only in the spring and early summer; some are looking to fill fall positions, and others are on the lookout for motivated crewmembers year-round.
Getting hired through AFJC isn't a sure thing. But it is certain that you won't get hired unless the people who do the hiring can find you.
We wish we could, but that's not how this industry works. Most of the skippers who hire through our site employ between two and ten crewmembers per year. These are small, independent businesses operating in a very decentralized industry, and they - the skippers - are the only ones who can promise anybody a fishing job.
What we guarantee you is that by learning the information in the Alaska Fishing Jobs Handbook and posting your crew profile where it's accessible to every licensed skipper in Alaska, you will dramatically increase your chances of landing a fishing job. We make it possible for applicants from every state to land great jobs, and they do!
IMPORTANT: If you come across a company or a website that claims to "guarantee" they will get you a job on someone else's fishing boat, they are probably not being truthful, and we strongly caution against doing business with such people.
We're glad you asked! Yes, women are routinely hired for fishing jobs in Alaska, and the special concerns (there are a few!) of women who work on fishing boats are discussed in the Alaska Fishing Jobs Handbook.
Generally speaking, however, women are very welcome in Alaska's commercial fishing industry. If you can combine an above-average-to-superior fitness level with good stamina and an adventurous nature, you'll be great.
That depends on the kind of vessel you're hired onto, the species being targeted, and the catch. Crew members on fishing boats are not paid by the hour or week, but by a percentage of the catch value called a "crew share". If you catch a lot of fish, you make a lot of money, that's the formula.
Experienced crewmembers aboard crab vessels, draggers and longliners may make $60,000 to $85,000 per year, or more. Crewmembers aboard salmon boats typically earn between $6,000 and $12,000 for their summer job, although we know people who have made upwards of $30,000 in a summer season. And you'll save almost everything you earn, because you're on the boat most of the time.
The Alaska Fishing Jobs Handbook describes these different boat and fishery types, in addition to a lot more more information on wages, crew contracts, life on a fishing boat and smart work habits.
Thousands of students have earned their tuition with summer jobs on fishing boats in Alaska. We did!
Many crew jobs are entry-level summer positions that work well with college schedules. Some of the summer salmon seasons, such as the one in Bristol Bay, last as little as five weeks. Those jobs work great with college schedules.
The work on a fishing boat involves persistent potential for accidents and injury. That's why we stress safety, sobriety and smarts in the Alaska Fishing Jobs Handbook. And that's why our motto is...
Be smart. Be safe. Good fishing.℠
Fishing involves a lot of moving parts and a lot of energy. Boats, machines, weather, nets, pots, lines - these things all come together in a choreography of crewmembers, mechanical and natural forces, the vessel, the fish, and the immediate conditions in the environment. A good crewmember develops sharp situational awareness, and the ability to anticipate what is about to happen, at any given time and under any given circumstances, during the fishing operation.
Most of the skippers who hire from the AFJC website operate vessels in the 32' to 65' range, and generally do so close to shore. Statistically, the fisheries they are engaged in are less risky than some others, such as Bering Sea crabbing.
Over the past two or three decades, Alaskan fisheries have fallen under increased regulatory attention, and skippers are required to conduct regular safety drills. Immersion suits (also known as surivival suits) are required onboard for all crewmembers, and safety drills include donning practice and man-overboard drills as well.
It is entirely appropriate for crew job applicants to discuss safety records with employers and inquire as to the established safety procedures on any prospective employer's vessel.
For more information, we highly recommend the safety resources made available at Alaska Sea Grant.
The answer to that is a very carefully qualified "yes". Every crab skipper in Alaska has free access to your profile, and you can specify in your profile that you're interested in a crabbing job. Our Fishing Jobs Resources area provides downloadable lists of crab skippers as well, and we encourage you to send them a personalized letter of introduction.
Having said that - and no matter what you might think after watching Deadliest Catch on TV - you are not qualified for a Bering Sea crab job until you have solid, on-the-water experience.
For more about this, please see our Crab Fishing in Alaska page.
We concentrate on connecting you with skippers who hire crew for their fishing boats, including salmon, halibut, sablefish, crab and herring vessels.
However, we are currently preparing to launch a sister-company - the Alaska Seafood Jobs Center - which will link processing job-seekers with Alaska's best seafood processing employers. We are planning to make this service completely free to the first 300 job-seekers who sign up with ASJC between March 2010 and our formal launch date in May.
To receive a no-obligation pre-launch invitation, and be one of those 300 founding members, please register at this page. In the Registration Codes box, enter the Processor Promo Code: rockfish
To work in the U.S. fishing industry, you must:
- be a citizen of this country, or
- permanent legal immigrant (green card holder), or
- you must have legal documentation that allows you to work in the United States.
If you are prepared to handle all your own work and travel visa issues, and you have sufficient funds of your own to travel to and from Alaska, you are welcome to use our site.
We recommend against traveling to Alaska unless you have a firm commitment from a prospective employer. Also, BEWARE of online businesses that "guarantee" foreign applicants high-paying jobs on fishing boats in Alaska. We strongly caution against sending those companies your money. You can find more information about scams that target foreign job-seekers by clicking here.
If we've missed any questions that YOU have about fishing in Alaska, we'd like to hear about it. Please use the Feedback link at the bottom of this page and let us know.
-The Crew at AFJC