Frequently Asked Questions

I don't get it. Why do I have to pay money to get a job?

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. The handbook contains the most essential information you need to excel as a first-time crewmember on an Alaskan fishing boat. That’s the preparation. Your opportunity begins when you post your profile on the site. Your 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. Every single licensed commercial fishing skipper in Alaska has free access to our job applicants, and an increasing number of skippers hire from our website.

When does hiring take place for these jobs?

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 of the year, however, are April-June, when salmon boat crews are filling up. Salmon boats present the largest number of entry-level positions across all of Alaska’s fishing fleets, and provide the learning experiences that qualify crewmembers to work on many other kinds of boats.

Through FishingJobs 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 FishingJobs isn’t a sure thing. But what is certain is that you won’t get hired unless the people who do the hiring can find you.

Can you guarantee me a job on a fishing boat?

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 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 often 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.

Can women get jobs on fishing boats?

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.

How much will I make on a fishing boat?

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 that are worth a lot of money, you make a lot, that’s the formula.

Experienced crewmembers aboard crab vessels, draggers and longliners may make $60,000 to $125,000 per year, or more. Crewmembers aboard salmon boats typically earn between $8,000 and $18,000 for their summer job, although this can vary a lot and 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 some of these different boat and fishery types, in addition to more information on wages, crew contracts, life on a fishing boat and smart work habits.

Can I get a job through the Alaska Fishing Jobs Center even if I've never worked on a boat before?

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 FishingJobs. Check out our Testimonials page to hear from a few of them.

I'm in college and can only get away during the summer. Will that work?

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.

Isn't fishing really dangerous?

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 FishingJobs 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.

Can you me get a job on a crab boat?

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 that you’re interested in a crabbing job. The Crew Toolbox 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. That’s why we promote Alaska’s salmon fisheries as the ideal place to get your sea legs.

I live outside the United States. Can you help me get a job?

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.

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.