How to Find a Fishing Boat Job
7th November 2018
How to Find a Fishing Boat Job
So, you want to work on a fishing boat? There are various things you can do to get started, but first and foremost make sure you understand what the lifestyle of someone working on a fishing boat is so that you don't bail the minute things get tough.
Understand and appreciate the lifestyle
Working on a fishing boat requires immense dedication and hard work. Understand that you'll need to get up at the crack of dawn, or even earlier, and, if you're pursuing night fishing, you'll need to be able to stay up all night and work as if it were day throughout. You may also be away for weeks at a time if you're on a commercial fishing boat and, depending on the terms of your vessel, the pay may be questionable.
On a fishing boat, you may get lucky and work to an hourly rate. However, often, you'll simply receive a share of the catch, which means you'll get paid based on how much you and your crew catch. This can mean a generous pay check on occasion or it could mean wasted weeks without anything to show for it, but that's all part of the fisherman's lifestyle.
When working on a fishing boat, you need to get stuck in. It's not your responsibility to do just one thing but to get stuck into everything; this could mean packing the catch or it could mean cleaning the deck. Whatever it is, you must be willing to do it without complaint.
Alternatively, if you're not sure you're cut out for commercial fishing, you may want to consider working on a charter boat. These boats take groups out on fishing trips, often for 6-8 hours, which means your wage is generated through people paying to go on trips rather than by catching and selling fish. Charter work can be enjoyable but it's also highly seasonal, which means you might only get 6-8 weeks of work during the summer period before the work dries up.
Commercial fishing is a more guaranteed profession, yet a strenuous one.
Identify what role you want
There are lots of different jobs on fishing boats for you to do, but before you set out looking, you need to identify which it is you want.
Generally, if you're starting out in the industry, you'll be looking for a job as a Fishing Boat Deckhand, which is like an assistant. The responsibilities of a Deckhand include;
• organising and prepping the deck and equipment • operating the mechanisms that control the nets • sorting, gutting and storing the catch • offloading the catch upon return to the harbour • maintaining equipment and repairing damaged equipment, including nets • cleaning the vessel while on board and after a trip
On some vessels you may also be required to help with cooking for the crew, but this is generally only on larger vessels.
As a deckhand, your hours will vary, and you can often be away for weeks at a time, especially if you're working on a large trawler.
The starting salary for a Deckhand position is £10,000, but this can grow to around £26,000 with extensive experience.
After training as a Deckhand, there are various other roles you can pursue at sea, too, including;
• Roles in the Merchant Navy • Fish Farmer • Skipper, which means you'll run your own small vessel
If this sounds like the right career path for you, you've come to the right place.
If you don't like the idea of being at sea almost all the time, you may want to consider roles on the shore, including working the fish markets, booking fishing boat charters or cleaning the vessels when they return to the harbour.
Finding a job on a fishing boat
Now that you know what it is you want, you can start your pursuit of a job on a fishing boat.
There are numerous ways you can get into the fishing industry, but some of the most popular include:
Temporary experience with an international crew
If you have some money to travel behind you, you may want to consider venturing further afield to places such as Alaska which have a substantial, thriving fishing industry with jobs available year-round.
You don't need to commit to an international job for long, but to get a taster of the industry you can take on temporary fishing jobs with a temporary work permit, thereby giving you a chance to travel and see new places while also learning.
Look out for an Apprenticeship
A more secure way to get a job on a fishing boat is with a Seafishing Apprenticeship for the UK or BIM for Ireland.
Apprenticeships are an excellent way to start out in an industry and develop your skills while getting paid. Not to mention, often, employers offer permanent employment at the end of an Apprenticeship, which means you're then set to continue your professional development and gain more skills for long-term career advancement.
The Apprenticeship rate in the UK is £3.90 for those under 19. The Government contributes towards your wages which makes employers more inclined to take on inexperienced individuals straight out of school or college, for example. Therefore, an Apprenticeship is one of the most guaranteed routes into the fishing industry.
Go back to school
There are fishing schools around the world that offer training and career opportunities upon graduation, which makes going to fishing school a reliable route to entry for the fishing industry.
At fishing school, you can gain a qualification and learn numerous skills that will make you employable. For example, at Whitby Fishing School, you can get a Diploma in Seafishing and complete skills courses such as;
• Sea Survival • First Aid • Safety Awareness • Hygiene and Cleaning in the Seafood Industry • Vessel Stability
And many more. These courses are also very affordable and will show employers and skippers that you're not only passionate about the industry but also have the right knowledge and are therefore a benefit to their vessel(s).
Know the 'insider tips' and network locally
It's not often that 'networking' comes into play outside of an office environment, or at least that's what you might think. But industry's such as fishing are all about word of mouth, which is why it doesn't hurt to walk around your local dock and visit nearby pubs and speak to those working in the industry, as these are the people with awareness of what jobs are going and how you can be considered. After all, there's no better person to ask for advice about fishing than a working fisherman.
If you're happy to get up early, which you need to be if you're to work in the fishing industry, get down to your local dock around 4am and speak to the skippers there. There may be opportunities to clean vessels to start out in the industry, or there may even be skippers looking for a new apprenticeship.
Online job listings for fishing boat crew
If you already have some experience in the fishing industry, you can find a job on a fishing boat online, like most industries. There are just a handful of go-to online job sites for crew, including;
• Find a Fishing Boat – the industry's leading online job site • National Careers Service: Civil Service Jobs – where you can find at-sea jobs with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency
Whatever it is you're looking for, get the training you need and ask around locally.
Today, there are over 12,000 commercial fishermen working in the UK and hundreds of thousands more working around the world, so there are plenty of opportunities to build a career at sea.
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