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What can I do to best prepare myself for a fishing job in Alaska?

Work in Alaska fisheries photo

Alaskan Totem Pole

The best thing anyone can do is research. Understanding the work environment, the timing and the schedule you are likely to have is the best way to be mentally prepared. Also giving yourself plenty of time to find a job. If you plan ahead of time intelligently you can sometimes have a job waiting for you upon your arrival, have your travel and lodging paid for and a contract in place for a seasonal job.

What is it like working as a processor? Is it boring?

Processing can be tedious but it isn’t particularly difficult. You will usually forge strong friendships with the people you are working with and enjoy pleasant conversations and joking around during work time. The hours are long yes, but most companies offer you breaks, with food or snacks provided. Additionally many have break rooms where movies are being played and the camaraderie between workers is usually very high. Remember you are there to work and thus, work is expected of you. Most people however, do come away from a seasonal seafood processing job surprised at how much they enjoyed their time in Alaska.

When is the best time to look for a job?

You can start researching right away. Knowing the seasons where you can find work and in what regions they exist is very advantageous. The more you know, the better off you will be in your job search. For college students, the best time to look for work is in the early spring when companies are beginning to look for summer employment.

If I don’t have any experience, can I still find a job?

Yes, of course. You might not find a job in some of the more lucrative deckhand positions but you can earn thousands as a processor. Most processors are greenhorns or first timers.

How much money can I expect to make?

It depends on your position and the number of hours worked. Processors are paid hourly with large overtime and bonuses. Deckhands might be paid hourly but are often paid based on what their boat’s haul made during the season. In any case a processor who works hard and works for a full season can expect $5,000 in a season and deckhands can earn at least $6,000. *exact earnings can’t be pinpointed

How long does a season run?

Summer work runs for about two months. However, seasons do vary. See our seafood fisheries calendar.

What is the work environment like?

The work environment will likely be slightly cold, wet and smelling of fish. The break, lunch, rec and shower rooms are all dry and usually very nice. The spaces are crowded and the hours long. Usually a person will work a split shift in order to achieve as many hours as possible. It is what you might expect from warehouse job in Alaska. But most people comment on how they expected it to be far worse. It really is a fun environment for the most part.

What are my chances of being hired on as a deckhand as a greenhorn?

While some lucky greenhorns find work as a deckhand their first time out, it is unlikely. The best thing to do is voice your desire to work on deck and work hard as a processor first. Many people move upwards in position over the duration of a season.

Will I enjoy my time in Alaska?

Most people would say, “Of course!”

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