Fishing Boat Deckhand

Job Description:

Deckhands clear the decks, prepare and maintain equipment and handle the catch on offshore fishing vessels.

Job Category:
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

What you will do:

In your day-to-day tasks you may:

  • prepare the deck areas and fishing equipment
  • operate the gear that sends out and brings in the nets
  • sort, gut and store the catch
  • unload the catch when you return to harbour
  • repair damaged nets and maintain equipment
  • help to make sure the vessel is kept clean and tidy
  • cook for crew members (on some vessels)


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of food production methods
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • the ability to use your initiative
  • persistence and determination
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a fishing boat deckhand, there are no specific requirements. However, certain subjects and skills can be helpful in pursuing a career in this field. Fishing boat deckhands assist in various tasks on fishing vessels, including handling fishing gear, processing catches, and performing general maintenance. Here are some recommended subjects and considerations:

  1. Mathematics: Basic math skills are important for tasks such as measuring and weighing catches, calculating quantities, and managing inventory on the fishing boat.
  2. Physical Education (PE): Physical fitness is crucial for deckhands, as the work can be physically demanding. Regular exercise and physical conditioning can prepare you for the physical rigors of the job.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


Young people aged 16 to 24 may be able to do a Diploma in Sea Fishing

You’ll get work experience at sea under the guidance of a skipper. You can learn how to:

  • operate and maintain deck and fishing gear
  • handle and stow the catch
  • do bridge watch duties like helping to steer or navigate
  • maintain the vessel

You will be given support for lodgings, travel and safety equipment during the course,

There is no set time to complete it. You work to an individual training plan until you have all the work experience you need.


You could do a fisher intermediate apprenticeship. Employers will set their own entry requirements.

Direct Application

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

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 35-45 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays away from home.

Career Path & Progression:

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 navy or harbour tug work.