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Tips For Those Who Would Like To Become King Crab Fishermen

Updated on January 17, 2012

King crab fishermen may earn a great deal of money, or may earn very little. It all depends on the catch. Television has romanticized this job, but what is it really like?


Crab fishermen do at times earn a great deal after working only a few months, but they do work very hard to earn it. Crab fishing, which is carried out primarily off the coast of Alaska, is not an easy or pleasant way to make a living.

The weather in this area can be violent, with heavy cold rains, or snow, and sleet, that can leave a layer of ice over both boat and equipment. The crew must work long hours, often overnight, if conditions demand. Fishing for king crab also means being away from home and family for long periods of time.

Crab fishing boats are small, some no more than seventy feet in length. The boat offers the bare minimum in the way of comfort and privacy. On board supplies are limited to only what is necessary. There is little in the way of entertainment.

Fishing for king crab is considered to be one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Boats are a long way from port, and anyone who is seriously ill or injured on the high seas may have to suffer for many days before getting professional medical attention.

To be able to do the work demanded of them, crab fishermen must be in excellent physical condition, have good balance, have great endurance, and be able to work for long hours under stress and extreme weather conditions. They must have good eye-hand coordination, be able to take orders, and be able to work efficiently as part of a team. Crab fishermen must be reliable, confident, and mature adults.


If you want to become a king crab fisherman, you must be determined, as there are many jobs available, but there are also many applicants. If you can afford it, consider spending a summer in Alaska, so you can get some idea of what life there is like. Alaska is a beautiful state, but living there is not always easy.

Boat owners are not willing to take on inexperienced crew members, so your first job is to get all the experience you can aboard boats, and in the fishing business.

While you are in high school, take courses in English, computers, a second language, a science, and any courses that are available that will give you some mechanical skills Many things can go wrong aboard a boat, so the more general skill and knowledge you have, the better.

Consider getting a college education. If you cannot get a job crab fishing, or find that is not the life you wish to lead, you will want to be able to move smoothly into another line of work.

Take courses in first aid and CPR. This will make you a more valuable employee wherever you are.

Start, while in high school, to get some experience working as part of a team, in any job, but preferably one related to the fishing industry.

You may feel that you do not need much formal education to work on a fishing boat. This is not true. Boat captains want intelligent crewmen. Alaska is an expensive place to live, and it is unlikely that you will immediately get a job on a crab fishing boat. You will not be able to live there long without having some type of job. Even when you do find a job on a fishing boat, you may wish to find other employment during the off season.

Do not plan to go to Alaska without having a reserve of at least two and preferably three thousand dollars. It is much easier to get a job in a canning factory than as a crab fisherman, so consider starting here.

Once you have your education, and some cash in hand, prepare a resume. Try to line up a job before you leave home. With the assurance of a job, no matter how menial, you can confidently head for Alaska.

Once you find some type of work, spend all your spare time letting everyone you meet, know that you are looking for a job on a crab boat. Post resumes. Talk to crew members, and captains. Don't think that you can start at the top. If you are polite, knowledgeable, and persistent, you may be able to get an entry level position.

Be aware that there are many internet sites offering jobs in Alaska. Be very careful when dealing with any of these. A fee is usually involved, and the job may not materialize as expected. Be cautious about signing anything.


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    • billips profile image

      billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for your comments Jason - you said it all 'it's a young person's game" and "one of the most difficult jobs there is" - certainly not something I would attempt, for any amount of money - B.

    • Jason Marovich profile image

      Jason Marovich 5 years ago from United States

      I'm a big fan of Deadliest Catch, too. Catching King Crab is definitely a young person's game. The conditions in icy seas are barely survivable, and the financial fate of the crew depends on a captain's wit and experience. Being a crab fisherman has got to be one of the most difficult jobs there is. Interesting article.

    • billips profile image

      billips 6 years ago from Central Texas

      I agree with you Kristeen - the program is fascinating, and I have the greatest respect for the men who do this work - I do think reality television romanticizes the hazardous aspects of some situations, unduly - but it certainly does make for good entertainment - B.

    • Kristeen profile image

      Christine 6 years ago from Michigan

      I enjoyed reading this billips. I am an avid fan of "The Deadliest Catch". The power of the ocean always amazes me. I have no desire to do that kind of work but I admire the men who do. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • billips profile image

      billips 6 years ago from Central Texas

      Thanks for your comments Russell, and for the good advice - retiring is the goal, earlier is better (and of course with those intact limbs) - the idea that danger is fun totally escapes me - nice to hear from you - B.

    • Russell-D profile image

      Russell-D 6 years ago from Southern Ca.

      Good story. The way to reduce the strenuous work in Alaska is to move to the Maryland/Virginia area and pole blue crab in shallow water. The bottom line. You can sell 2 dozen blue crabs for about 1/3 the price of Alaska King. But you'll retire earlier with all your limbs attached. Come crab in the Land of Pleasant living. Competition minus risk.

    • billips profile image

      billips 6 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you Derdriu for you kind comments - I agree on your impression of 'The Perfect Storm', as a true portrayal of how dangerous and frightening a life at sea can be - that would be enough to keep me on dry land - regards, B.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      Billips, What a helpful, practical, useful summary of becoming and remaining a crab fisherperson! In particular, you do a great job of identifying experiences and training which are most conducive to being happy at crab fishing for a living. It's especially helpful that you caution about the romance of Alaska and water-related jobs by bringing in the realities of danger and expense.

      Thank you for sharing,


      P.S. "The Guardian" and "The Perfect Storm" give accurate impressions of the dangers of open water-related jobs.

    • billips profile image

      billips 6 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you for your comments Mackyi - those programs really do make this job seem more romantic than dangerous - glad to hear from someone who has a realistic view of the situation - B.

    • profile image

      mackyi 6 years ago

      I have watched quite a few of these crab fishing documentary and I must say this is not an easy job. I have seen Guys ended up with broken wrist,fingers,nasty cuts etc. from been tossed around on deck due to nasty weather and choppy seas. Yet it can be an adventurous and well paying jobs for those who can handle it. With this been said, I will agree with you, people should be cautious about signing up or should have other options. Good advice billip.

    • billips profile image

      billips 6 years ago from Central Texas

      I am glad you enjoyed this article LadyLyell, and I appreciate your commenting on it - B.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 6 years ago from George, South Africa

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading up on what is involved in crab fishing.