Crab Fishing (Fisherman) Salaries In Alaska And Other States Of The USA. Everything You Need To Know

Crab fishing is becoming popular in Alaska and other parts of the USA. The career is dangerous but also quite rewarding in terms of salaries. Are you looking to get into crab fishing as a career? Are you curious to know how many crabs fishermen make in this dangerous job? If yes, stick with us and get enlightened on everything you need to know. 

The salary range for crab fishermen in Alaska is $30,000 to $50,000 per month. How much you make can vary depending on the level of experience and the total boat catch.

 Crab fishing is the act of gathering crabs and entails a lot of heavy lifting. It is suitable for people intrigued by adventure and has physical strength since you have to carry crab pots and heavy nets.  This occupation can either be a full-time job or a part-time. Crab fishermen can use a large ship or small boat.

 You can start your career as a deckhand and once you gain more experience, grow to the highest rank. The job is more rewarding in terms of salary the higher you are on the ladder. Like all occupations, fishing has disadvantages, such as the danger of injury and drowning. There are several benefits enjoyed by crab fishermen, such as accommodation. One can live on the boat, so fishermen incur no extra accommodation expenses.

Job Description Of A Fisherman On Alaska

Job Description Of A Fisherman On Alaska

Before becoming a top-earning fisherman, one has to begin at the bottom to learn and gain experience. The first job is mainly as a deckhand. 

The primary duties of deckhand are: 

a) Properly cleaning the boat deck, fishing nets, and ensuring proper maintenance.

b) Setting the fishing nets and pots

c) Load and unload supplies and equipment

d) Assist with fishing gear

e) Put Ice in the fish to ensure they do not spoil.

How Much Does A Crab Fisherman Make?

How Much Does A Crab Fisherman Make

Crabber is the other name for the crab fisherman. It is adventurous, and due to the fast-paced nature of the job, it is very demanding. The primary consideration in any career is salary, and fishing is no exception. Before venturing into crab fishing, one needs to consider the duties vis a vis the pay. It will help in deciding whether this career is the best choice.

The below table indicates the various salaries for crab fishermen in Alaska and other states in the USA.

States In The USAAverage Salaries

How Are Crab Fishermen Typically Paid?

The payment of a crab fisherman depends on the crew share. This is a term that refers to the total boat’s catch. A crab fisherman is usually paid a percentage of the crew share. The more crabs a boat catches during their time at sea, the more income the crab fisherman earns. Fishermen with more experience make more compared to less experienced colleagues. 

Crab Fisherman Salary In Alaska And Other Parts Of USA

The below are the statistics of the crab fishermen’s wages from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fishing PersonnelAverage Wages And Benefits
Fishing workers$28,530
Crab fishermen$28,530
Deckhands$14.65 per hour
Overtime$5,000 p.a.
Boat captains$20.55 per hour

Working Conditions Of Crab Fishing In Alaska And Other States Of The USA

Technology is advancing every day. The fishing industry has embraced the advancements by improving fishing tools. As a result of this, the fishing operations have been enhanced and mechanized. Despite these factors, crab fishing is stressful, mainly because it is physically demanding. They have to pull in the traps and equipment. Other challenges in this job are irregular shifts, long working hours, and staying away from their families. Those fishermen who work on commercial boats cannot meet their families often because they are away from their homes for some months. 

Crab Fisherman Requirements

The requirements in the crab fishing industry are explained below, and they include Education, Training, Licensure, and Physical fitness.


Some countries have a mandatory program for crab boats to equip the candidates with job skills. Due to the competition in the job market, some courses can boost the chances of getting hired. These courses include fishery technology, seamanship, marine safety, navigation, vessel operations, fishing gear technology, or vessel repair. Some of the classes take two years to finish the program. 


Previous experience and training on the job are an added advantage to staying ahead of competitors. Examples of such are the operation of boats and crab fishing equipment. Without experience, one can still get the job. Most employers train people on the job. Most schools in the Coastal areas can easily include practical courses because of their access to the water. These skills will give the candidates a competitive edge in the job market.


One has to have a crab-fishing license to have a spot on a commercial crab fishing boat.

Physical Fitness

it is essential to have the physical endurance to be successful in the industry. The crab fishermen have to work long hours and lift heavy tools. They have to be strong and fit to cope with the job demands. 

Career Overview Of A Crab Fisherman

The growth of the industry is dictated by the demand and supply forces in the market. Due to this, the jobs are not available throughout, and it is seasonal. Positions are open from October to January. Employment in fishing boats has reduced by 2%. In 2005, the derby system changed to the quota system. The change reduced the number of operating ships from 250 to 89. The reduction in the smaller operations received quotas that are too small to meet operating expenses. This made openings on boats more competitive.

Crab Fisherman Career FAQ

Below are the frequently asked questions about being a crab fisherman and the answers:

1. What Does A Crab Fisherman Do?

A crab fisherman gets crabs for human use. They do the fishing by using boats that have nets, traps, and other equipment in them. They use baits that are attached to pots. Cranes are used to lift the pots. Hooks are used to get fish from the ocean and to put them in storage tanks. Fishermen should carefully place the pots in the boat.

2. How Long Do Crab Fishermen Stay Out At Sea?

Depending on the capacity of the boat, a crab fishing boat typically stays in the sea for three to four weeks at a time. This time also varies depending on how long it will take to catch the fish. In the old derby style, many of the crews wanted to catch many crabs within a short time, which means a few days. The competition is high. In 2005, the system changed to the quota system. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game embraced this system. It is a system where established owners were given quotas to fill at a more relaxed pace. The value of the crabs’ increases because the crabs are not available throughout the year. It also made crabbing safer for crew members.

3. How Can You Advance Your Career As A Crab Fisherman?

An effective way to get fishing jobs is asking around at docks, especially if one is in the coastal area with commercial crab fishing companies. The Crab fishermen with no prior experience start off working as greenhorn and work towards the top. The primary duties of the greenhorn are essential maintenance of the boat and cleaning. After gaining experience as a greenhorn, one rises to become a crewman. In most cases, this happens by the second season. In scenarios where seasoned crab fishermen have a license, they have high chances of getting a job as a master licensed crabber.

4. What Are The Different Job Roles On A Crab Fishing Boat?

Different job roles help a company successfully fish for crab, and they include: greenhorn, bait master, pot launcher, pot retriever, and chef. A new crab fisherman is called greenhorn. The chef prepares the meals for the crew members. The bait master is the person who attaches bait to the pots to attract the fish. The lure is made of cod and herring. Setting the pots as per the instructions of the ship’s captain is the job of the pot launcher. A pot retriever is responsible for casting a hook to capture the potline and then uses a pulley system to return the pot to the boat.

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