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Fishing boat deckhand Fishing vessel deckhand

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

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £10,000 to £26,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements and most deckhands begin without previous experience or specific qualifications. If you have some sea-going experience, you may be able to contact vessel skippers directly and train on the job.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

When you start work you must complete the basic training required by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • good practical ability
  • the ability to work in harsh conditions

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • preparing the deck areas and fishing equipment
  • operating the gear that sends out and brings in the nets
  • sorting, gutting and storing the catch
  • unloading the catch when you return to harbour
  • repairing damaged nets and maintaining equipment
  • helping to make sure the vessel is kept clean and tidy
  • cooking for crew members (on some vessels)

As an experienced deckhand you could become a 'mate'. You'll have extra responsibilities like reading charts and navigating, operating the radio, using fish-finding equipment and deputising for the skipper.

4. Salary

Starter: £10,000

Experienced: up to £26,000

You may be paid on a 'share' basis according to the size of the catch.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your hours will vary according to the size of your boat and how far out to sea you're working. On a large trawler you could be away for several weeks at a time.

Conditions on board may be cramped.

6. Career path and 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 Merchant Navy or harbour tug work.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018