It really is possible to get a deckhand job on a fishing boat in Alaska. Skippers hires greenhorns all the time. Get the real scoop from a deckhand on a purse seiner, who just finished his first season in Southeast Alaska.
Become an AlaskaJobFinder member to read interviews full of insider tips. What follows is an excerpt. Learn how people have found their jobs, how fish are harvested in Alaska, what the work and living conditions are really like, how much you can earn working on a fishing boat in Alaska, and much more.
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Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Washington state, haven’t been to college, and entered the workforce early in construction.
How much experience do you have in the Alaskan Seafood Industry?
This is my first experience in the industry.
What made you want to work in the Alaska fishing industry?
I kept hearing about the incredible money these guys were making in
just a few months. I also had never seen Alaska, so I thought I could get the best of both worlds.
What related experience did you have prior to being hired?
Pretty much none. I do know a lot of knots because I’m a rock climber,
but that is about it.
What’s your title?
What are your specific duties?
I stack the corks when we haul gear and I set up the deck for fishing.
What are the terms of your employment?
I am responsible for preseason work and I must bring the boat back to Seattle at the end of the season.
Is it possible to land a fishing boat job without any previous experience?
Yeah, I’m living proof.
Besides actual ‘on the job’ experience, are there any personal qualities you would need in order to get into this unique line of work?
More than anything, you need a positive attitude. It’s going to suck at some point. Getting through that is the key.
What was the interview process like for this position?
It was simple. I said I wanted to go and he said I had a job.
How long did it take from first applying for the position to getting hired?
About 1 hour.
Describe the typical ‘greenhorn’ experience.
It’s tough, because you just don’t know what is happening and you are just supposed to pick it up. Everyone was great though. The pay is just about 8% as a greenie.
On the occasions there’s a little downtime, how do you spend it?
When we had time off we were hiking and kayaking around Alaska. It’s an amazing experience.
Would you recommend this line of work to others, and if so, then why?
Yes, it’s a lifestyle and a great one at that. I don’t think that it is meant
for everyone, but it’s hard to imagine that someone couldn’t enjoy a summer.
What’s the best advice anyone gave you about working in this industry, whether it relates to finding a job for the first time or making the most of the experience?
Bring a positive attitude and a ton of clean socks!
What personal benefits/rewards do you find from working in the Alaska fishing industry?
I really enjoy the outdoors. Alaska opened up so many new places for
me. I’m not sure if I will fish forever, but I will always think of Alaska.
What did you dislike about working on a fishing vessel?
No privacy. Constant work and never getting off the boat.
What do you and the other crew do to keep a positive attitude?
Tunes! Lots of music and joking around with the crew.
Some might think it’s a male dominated industry. Tell me about opportunities for women to work on fishing boats.
In Southeast Alaska there are quite a few women. The woman we had on board this past summer was awesome, and the dudes would have been lost without her. Skippers don’t mind hiring women at all.
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