Get a Job on a Factory Trawler

Factory trawlers (aka At-Sea Processors or Catcher-Processors) are massive, high tech boats. They are a one-stop shop for commercial fishing. Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, these monsters catch and process fish onboard. They stay at sea for 2 to 3 weeks or until their holds and freezers are full – usually 300 to 1,300 tons of processed fish! With a major operation like this, it’s not surprising that factory trawlers were once called “the next Alaskan gold rush.”

Most factory trawlers fish for pollock during the allocated seasons. If they want to operate more, they may fish for grouper or Pacific whiting in waters further south. In the off-season, factory trawlers may head to Russia, Oregon, or Australia.

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How Does A Factory Trawler Work?

Factory Trawlers lined up at Port of Seattle Dock loading supplies for Fishing Trip to the Bering Sea in Alaska

(Photo credit: Port of Seattle)


On factory trawlers, most things are fully automated, but man power is still needed. Deckhands set up drag nets, called trawls that vary in size. These trawls are dragged behind the boat and catch anything in their path. When the net is pulled in, the fish are gathered in the cod end – a section the size of a massive train car. The cod end can hold 5 to 150 tons of fish each time it is pulled in and this happens every few hours. The fish are dumped on deck and dropped down the hatch.

Below deck is an entire processing factory full of hard workers. The fish are sorted, processed, and frozen – all before the next cod end is pulled in. This is done non-stop until the freezers are full.

Once the boat is at capacity, it heads to port to offload the fish – a process that can take several days. After a full re-supply, the factory trawler heads back.

If you want to work on a factory trawler, it’s best to find a job before you arrive because the boats are hardly ever in port. You are more likely to land a job if you are willing to sign on for 3 to 4 months. It’s a great place to learn and gain experience in a variety of positions. One of the jobs you might get is…

  • Deckhand
  • Combie
  • Cooks
  • Line workers
  • Factory Worker
  • Factory Foreman
  • Quality Controller
  • Sorter
  • Flipper
  • Roe Cleaner
  • Freezer Crew
  • Sorters

Alaska & North Pacific Factory Trawler Jobs

Depending on your job, experience, skills, and licenses you will make between $2,000 and $7,000 per month. That’s working 12 to 16 hour days, but the boat is your life. You’ll eat, work, and sleep – don’t plan on doing much else, but you also don’t spend much of the money you earn.

North Pacific Pollock Factory Trawler Docked in Seattle

With 60+ trawlers working in Alaska and each one employing about 140 people, you’ll be able to find a job in this lucrative all-in-one niche.

In the Members Section of AlaskaJobFinder we provide you some proven tips and strategies for landing the best factory trawler jobs. We also have detailed hiring information for each of the companies.

Learn More: Alaska Factory Longliners

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