Alaska Crab Fishing Jobs

By Eric Hammer

If you've seen Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, then you're probably wondering what would be involved in getting yourself one of those Alaska crab fishing jobs. First, the bad news: if you are reading this article, odds are you will not be getting a job as a crab fisherman any time soon.

It has nothing to do with your level of interest or desire either. It does however have everything to do with the way Alaska crab fishing jobs are given out. You must have experience in order to land a job with a crab fishing boat. This work is extremely, extremely dangerous and there is every possibility that your heirs will be collecting your pay rather than you.

Because of that danger, no captain in his right mind (it's virtually all men in this business) will hire a newbie to work on a crab fishing boat. Now that doesn't mean you won't be able to eventually land such a job. It just means you have to pay your dues first, typically on another kind of boat, such as one that catches salmon.

How Much Can You Make?

Once you are experienced and able to get a job like this, you can easily expect to take home something in the neighborhood of $15,000 for three months worth of work. Occasionally, you'll be asked to pay a share of the operating costs of the boat, though most often, the captain and owner take their share of the profits, then the operating costs are deducted from the money from the catch and whatever is left is split between the hands who worked on the boat. This means of course that you could theoretically walk away with nothing, but in practice, a payout in the low five figures is pretty reasonable to expect.

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As previously noted, no one starts out taking Alaska crab fishing jobs right off the bat. Instead, you will start working in another kind of boat. Often, captains who hire hands for salmon trawlers for example will not require experience. Salmon trawlers typically bring in less money (the typical payout is around $10,000 for a 3 month stint), but the work is much less dangerous (though deaths still do occur).

Remember that this is a game for the young. Crab fishing boats often work round the clock in freezing, icy conditions and few hands get more than 3-4 hours of sleep per night. Expect to regularly put in 20-21 hour days onboard.

Most Alaska crab fishing jobs originate in Bristol Bay, Alaska, though many other such jobs also originate there (including salmon trawlers) so if you are serious about doing this for a while, you need to get yourself to Bristol Bay. In spite of claims to the contrary on some web sites that try to make this sound easy, it is rare to find places willing to pay your airfare to Alaska. Especially since Deadliest Catch, there is no real shortage of people making their own way to Alaska to seek their fortunes.

Qualifications / Requirements

You must get experience on the sea from another source before you try to land any Alaska crab fishing jobs. Typically, you'll be asked to prove your seaworthiness and to explain where you have worked previously. You also need to be in top physical shape with strong, developed muscles as this is extremely hard work.

First Steps

Start by taking a job with a salmon trawler or cod fishing boat. These boats typically will hire green talent. Get your sea legs, then come back and take a job during low season on one of the crab boats. Once you have that experience under your belt, you can come back and look for high season jobs where the payout can be much higher.


Check out these helpful resources to find out more about Alaska crab fishing jobs:

CV Tips: How to Find a Job as a King Crab Fisherman - A good introduction to the world of Alaska crab fishing jobs.

Alaska Fishing: Crab Fishing in Alaska - This is another good introduction along with lots of good general information about how to find fishing jobs in Alaska.

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