How to Get a Commercial Crab Fishing Job in Alaska

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My husband was a commercial crab fisherman in Alaska for many years, and since it's one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, I never got used it. We have had several friends and a family member who have died crab fishing. The money is addicting though, and the guys always say: just one more season.

Things You'll Need

  • Be an adrenalin junkie
  • Nerves of steel
  • Crab fishing happens in the middle of winter and takes place in the icy cold waters of the Alaska's Bering Sea.

    Crab fishing jobs are hard to get because you have to know what you are doing but, who wouldn't want to make upwards of fifty thousand dollars for six months of work? That kind of money only comes from a full crew share and most newcomers are paid a half crew share or less. Your life is in the hands of the fishermen who have been "out west" for many seasons.

    Every year Alaska's Bering Sea loses a few crab fishermen and even a giant crab fishing boat.

  • Most people new to Alaska and commercial fishing usually don't start out crabbing, but salmon seining in the summer to gain some experience on the water.

    Winter in the Bering Sea is not a fun place to be, and on a crab boat you can expect to work twenty hours a day. Not all the time is spent baiting and launching crab pots, but also breaking up ice that accumulates on the boat. Too much icing can cause a boat to go down, and if you go down into the Bering Sea in the winter, you are not coming out of it alive. Baseball bats, tire irons and any other heavy objects are used for de-icing.

  • You are not going to get a crab fishing job or any other fishing job for that matter in Alaska by sitting at home and looking on the internet. It just doesn't happen that way. You have to go to Alaska to get a job in Alaska, and if you have never been fishing before, your chances are still pretty slim.

    If you want to take your chances, you will have to pack everything you need into a duffel bag and get on a plane, and head to either Kodiak or Dutch Harbor.

    Most people walking the docks in Kodiak and Dutch looking for a fishing job don't get them, no matter what ever web sites they have seen claiming the opposite.

    Most crab fishermen get the jobs because they were born into it, they have a family member on the boat, or they are walking on the dock and notices a pissed off Skipper because a crew member hasn't shown up because he is in the local clink.

    Losing a body part, having the flu, not sleeping for days, these are no excuses for not working on a crab boat-- and remember, there is no overtime.

  • My suggestion is, if you really think you can give it shot, try working in a local processing plant first.
    It will get you to Alaska (the plant usually pays for it) and the plant has bunk houses too. This will get you into the fishing loop and you will meet fisherman, and know what the good money making boats are. Working in a cannery really sucks, but that's another article.

    In Alaska's fishing industry, just like a lot of safer industries, it's all about who you know, and word of mouth. Those are the cold hard facts.

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  • Photo Credit dan
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