Work In Alaska

The types of work in the Alaskas commercial fishing industry, methods for finding a job, the pros and cons of Alaskan work.

The commercial fishing industry in Alaska is full of pros and cons. The pros: it can be an adventure in some of the roughest waters in the world, sometimes room and board are free, and you can save up several thousands of dollars within a period of weeks to a couple of months. The cons: work is often long and difficult, paying your own way is sometimes required, and you might not make very much money.

If you are considering work in Alaska the tips in this article can help. Through a good plan and persistance you can find a job in Alaska, make lots of money and have a good experience.

The commercial fishing industry in Alaska is divided into seasons according to the type of fish to be caught and the regulations regarding catch quotas. These seasons often change slightly when necessary. Generally however, there is an "A" season during the winter (starting in January) and a "B" season during the summer and ending at the beginning of winter. During these seasons fish are caught, processed, and then sold to markets around the world.

"A" season is usually the best for making money, but much colder than "B" season where the money may not be as good, but the working conditions are often better.

The most prominant jobs available in the Alaskan commercial fishing industry are: fishing boats, catcher processors, processing vessels, and land plants.

Fishing Boats: Work on a fishing boat is usually very demanding and difficult. Fishermen battle the cold, storms, and long hours. When there is work to be done fishermen may be busy for a couple of days without sleep.

The difficulties are not without their rewards. Crab fishermen on the Bering Sea during the winter can make $10,000 a month, or even $1,000 a day on a good boat. Other fishing jobs average about $5,000 a month as a deckhand.

The common way to get a job on a fishing boat is to "walk the docks" at the fishing ports in Seattle, Duth Harbor, Kodiak, Ketchikan, or another city with a port, going from boat to boat asking Captains for a job. The usual job for a greenhorn is to bait the traps or work with the nets. Be prepared to work a few days for free to prove your worth to the Captain before he´ll hire you, and make sure to bring plenty of warm clothes. After getting a job you should get paid a percentage of the catch.

Catcher Processors: These vessels both catch and process fish. Beginners usually start out as a processor, but can move up to a deckhand position with experience.

Try to avoid companies that pay an hourly wage, you´ll make more money working for a case rate or a percentage of the catch.

The hours are long, averaging sixteen hours a day with most companies and work is tedious and monotonous. Room and board are free (with few exceptions) and monthly pay is around $3,000 to $5,000. The working conditions are cold so bring the appropriate clothing and anything else you will need for a thre to four month stay.

The company will take you to Alaska on the boat or fly you into an Alaskan city when the boat is in port. Most companies pay for flights to the job site from Seattle, and back again after you complete your contract. If you break the contract you´ll be required to pay your own way back to Seattle.

Processing Vessels and Land Plants: These jobs do not involve catching fish, they only process them. Processing vessels are either out at sea or anchored at a fishing port. They generally have the same work requirements as catcher processors, but many of these companies only pay an hourly wage instead of a case rate or a percentage of the catch.

Land plants are factories that process fish on land near fishing ports. Most offer an hourly wage and some do not pay for room and board. However these jobs are the easiest to get. A three month contract is standard.

Wages average $600 to $1,000 a week for processors on vessels or at land plants.

For a listing of jobs in the Alaskan commercial fishing industry send a check for $40.00 to:

Alaska Fish Jobs Guide

(make checks payable to:)

Conifer Communications

P.O. Box 8417

Boise, ID 83707

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