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Fishing boat deckhand

Deckhands maintain fishing gear and nets, process catches and keep work areas clean on fishing vessels.

Annual Salary

£21,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

43 to 45 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; away from home

Future employment

There will be 0.9% fewer Fishing boat deckhand jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a fishing boat deckhand, you'll:

  • load supplies and unload catches at harbourside
  • operate fishing gear that sends out and brings in the nets
  • sort, process and store the catch
  • repair damaged nets and maintain equipment
  • wash down the decks and keep the vessel tidy
  • cook for crew members (on some vessels)

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work on a boat.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, outdoors in all weathers, cramped and you may spend nights away from home.

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • training through a professional body

You may be able to start by doing a course in maritime studies at a fishing industry training college, then apply for work as a trainee deckhand on a fishing vessel.

On a course, you'll learn:

  • deck, ropes and fishing gear operation
  • how to store a catch
  • basic navigation skills
  • vessel maintenance

You'll also get training in sea safety and first aid.

For more information

You could apply to do a Fisher Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship.

This apprenticeship can take up to 2 years to complete.

For more information
Direct application

If you have some sea-going experience and the correct safety certificates, you may be able to find work by contacting vessel skippers directly and train on the job.

Other routes

You could find out more about the Introduction to Commercial Fishing course, which is backed by Seafish, who support the UK's fishing industry.

The course is for anyone looking to work on a commercial vessel. It covers basic industry skills and knowledge, along with 4 mandatory training units that you'll need to work onboard a boat.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

You'll need to be willing to move if necessary, as fishing industry training centres tend to be located near established fishing ports around the country.

Further information

You can find more information about careers in the fishing industry from Seafish.

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With experience, you could work towards becoming a skipper. Inshore skippers can operate their own small boat up to 16.5m. Further training is needed for larger vessels.

You could also use your experience to move into related areas like the Merchant Navy or harbour tug work.

If you do training in mechanical, electrical or marine engineering, you could become a trainee engineer on a fishing vessel.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of food production methods
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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