Interested in becoming a crab fisherman? Please read this…

Many “Deadliest Catch” fans have posted on Deadliest Reports they they’re interested in becoming commercial fishermen or crabbers  and the response here, has always been…”It’s a tough job to get these days”.  A few of the official “Deadliest Catch” fishing vessel websites have even mentioned so and advised those who are really interested, that perhaps getting work on the processors first may be the way to go.  Well Brad Whipple, an experienced commercial fisherman, has written an interesting article about finding such work.  So if you’re one of those who’s contemplated heading up to Alaska to do a little “working on the edge”, you may want to read the following…

How to Get Work On An Alaskan Fishing Boat

So you want a little adventure? Test the limits of your energy ? Make some money? Bask in some of the most amazing natural beauty anywhere? Good. Can you live in cramped space for a few weeks? Maybe go without a shower for a few days? Work for 48 straight hours? Ignore freezing temperatures? Good. All you have to do is get a job on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska.

Photo by brewbooks

Fifteen or twenty years ago, thousands upon thousands of college-age kids migrated to Bristol Bay and Cook Inlet in the late spring, pitched tents in parking lots, and beat the docks until they secured a site on a drift boat or seiner. In those days the salmon runs were incredibly strong, the ex-vessel price was over $3.00/lb., and work abounded. If you couldn’t find a site, then the tender vessel or the cannery certainly had a position for you – a less lucrative one to be sure, but good work nonetheless. Crab fishing in the wintertime offered similar opportunity. A young man could get on a plane in Anchorage and have a job before he landed in Dutch Harbor. Boats made so much money they could hire an extra guy on a half-share basis just to make life a little easier for everyone. It was relatively easy for an able-bodied guy to get a site, even if he didn’t have any fishing experience. Things are quite different today. Regulations, oil spills, an economic emphasis on imports, the crash of the Japanese economy in the mid-90s – all of these factors have drastically changed the fabric of the industry over the last two decades. But the romantic allure persists and the risk/reward factor is still intense. The job can still be quite lucrative for the right person, and the best way for you to land your site is still to simply SHOW UP!

Skippers don’t troll for employees on Monster. There are websites dedicated to finding “fishing” jobs in Alaska, like,, and others. Some of these charge a membership fee though, and most of the positions are on factory processors owned by giant seafood corporations like Trident or Peter Pan. This might be a good place to start, but in truth, the chances of getting hired on a proper fishing boat, sight unseen, especially if you’re “green”, are about zero. There is no application process, we’re going straight to the interviews. So if you’re starting a career or just taking a sabbatical from the cubicle, here’s how to go about it:

Please keep reading this great article after the jump

This entry was posted in Facts & Data, Hazards of the work, On Working in Alaska, Working in Alaska and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Interested in becoming a crab fisherman? Please read this…

  1. Jen says:

    I’m amazed these boats still hire guys that are total greenhorns after some of the things we’ve seen.
    My husband says that there’s no way to tell how a man will react out on the ocean.

  2. opilia says:

    That’s true Jen. We saw that both in season 2 and season 3…Some of the strongest looking guys can lose it.

  3. Tom says:

    Thats very true, but it is, like Sig Hansen said, at least 70% mental toughness

  4. Charlie E. Brough says:

    I am trying to find how to get my wife’s Grandson a job on a crab boat out of dutch harbor, or a floating process boat. He has been in some trouble with the law, but wants to get his life together. What can he do to get a job?

  5. Charlie E. Brough says:

    Job info please.

  6. opilia says:

    There’s no easy way to go about it but I do know that processors in AK look for hundreds and hundreds of new employees at certain times of the year. i would go directly to the website and also the same with Unisea. They’re both big processors up there. Good luck!

  7. Jon Salazar says:

    Ha guys,
    Im 17 years old still in high school.
    I love watching the series on TV, my favorite boat is
    the Northwestern. Once i get through high scool i will
    be there helping you get crab, money and do what we both love. Take care!!

  8. Rich Kennedy says:

    I have been trying to do this for quite some time now and have had no luck. I could care less about the TV. show and all the fame of crabbing. What appeals to me it the camaraderie between the crew-members, a family away from home is I guess what you can call it. Putting your life on the line and knowing that the people you work with care just as much as you, lack of sleep day in and day out to get a reward that you really earn in the end. I’m married with four children in a struggling economy. I have worked for temp agencies and did everything I can to retain employment but it all comes down to cheap labor. I’m tired of promises of being hired on in a company to stay with the temp agency for crap wages because it’s more economical for them. I hope that someone on here might be able to help me. I served four years aboard a nuclear submarine and I’m not a stranger to anything this planet has to throw at me. I’m from Iowa and have a background in almost everything that requires back breaking work, long hours, and sacrifices. It all comes down to doing what I have to do for my family. I want to give my children and wife what they deserve. I don’t want to wonder where I’m going to get my money for the next week. If anyone see’s this and feels like they can help me or point me in the right direction I would appreciate it. I can be reached at . I really hope someone will take a chance on me, I can only promise to strive to be the best and give it my all.

  9. Anthony painter jr. says:

    i was trying to figure out what all i needed to do to get a job on a crab boat.. i really don’t mind where i would have to go or how far i have to push myself physically or mentally i am slowly preparing myself for such an adventure… i would like to find out also where i could look on line to get such expierance.. So if anyone can help with my little endevor please e-mail me asap. thank you

  10. Becca says:

    hey, im only 14 haha freshman in high school. but i really want to try this. and people will probably talk trash cuz im a girl but im very athletic and strong mentaly and phiscly from sports 24/7. I am used to the cold weather Lake Eerie bring in the winter in good old Ohio.I also want to show people that wonman are just as capible of fishing as men. Im a fan of the Cornielia Marie, and hopefuly get on that boat if i ever do try fishing. haha but i have some years infront of me befor i do any of that, but i can only dream for now. But oh well. 🙂


  11. Chris says:

    Hey guys, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get on any of the crab boats. I’d like to become part of the family on the NorthWestern and earn the respect of my skipper, crew members and my own family. All I ask is for one chance and I won’t disappoint you guys…

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