Becoming A Crab Fisherman: Crack the Code Of A Lucrative Career

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated December 17th, 2023

Is it your dream to live an adventurous life at sea?

Becoming a crab fisherman is definitely an option to consider.

In this article, we’ll explore the skills and training needed, the equipment and techniques used, and what you need to know to get started as a crab fisherman.

Crab Fishing Careers Overview

A crab fisherman is a type of professional fisherman that will catch crabs from the depths of the ocean to be sold.

If you have watched the reality show The Deadliest Catch, you have seen crab fisherman in action. The work takes place in frigid waters, often in harsh weather conditions, and on what can be very rocky boats. 

Some of the work you will do includes:

  • Baiting and setting crab post (steel cages)
  • Hauling traps up from the depths of the sea when they are full
  • Sort through the catch to determine which species are legal to keep
  • Discard unwanted catches
  • Properly store any crabs that can be sold
  • Maintain equipment
  • Check for safety hazards
  • Cook meals for crew members
  • Clean gear

To do crabbing, bait is set inside a crab pot, which can often weight several hundred pounds. That is then lowered into the ocean, and when the crabs try to grab the bait, the fall into the bottom where they cannot get out.

These pots can remain in the ocean for a few days. 

Take a peak at this video of some crab fisherman in action. It is important to note that the weather in this video is good – and the seas are not choppy! This will not always be the case.

Where Do Crab Fisherman Work

This is definitely not a job you can do just anywhere.

Alaska is the leader in job opportunities for crab fisherman in the US.

The increased interest in the crab fishing business resulted in Alaska issuing a crab quota to ensure species of fish do not become extinct.

It is one of the most robust industries for the state and can be lucrative for great crabbing teams.

Many crab fisherman will work for long periods of time away from home. 

The season for the crab fishing industry is relatively small, lasting just a few weeks. Different species of crabs will be in season different times of year, so many crews will go out several times. 

Requirements to Become a Crab Fisherman

If you’re serious about pursuing a career as a crab fisherman, then you’ll need to make sure you have what it takes. 

There are no formal education requirements, not even high school or a GED is required. There is no formal fishing experience required either.

It is one of the easier jobs to get into, but having some previous work experience in fishing or deck experience can be very helpful. 

Depending on where you plan on fishing, there may be requirements for a special certification and fishing license. 

In Alaska for example, all crab fishermen must pass a comprehensive exam and obtain an “Alaska Commercial Fishers Entry Permit“.

Other states may have their own requirements so it is important to understand what is required before you get started. 

Crab Fisherman Salary and Career Path

If you’re considering a career as a crab fisherman, then you should know that it can be incredibly rewarding!

With the right experience and qualifications, you could end up making an excellent salary.

On average, deck hands will make around $30,000 to $50,000 a year. Experienced fishermen can easily double this amount. Of course, the amount of money you earn will depend on how hard you work and the size of your catch.

As for career paths, there are many options available to crab fishermen. Many start out as deck hands and work their way up to becoming captains or even owning their own boats.

Others may go on to become fish processors or open shops selling seafood products. No matter what route you take, there is always room for advancement in the industry!

Crab fishing is an incredibly challenging profession that requires dedication and skill. However, if you have what it takes then this could be a great career for you!

With some hard work and determination, you could find yourself making a comfortable living from crab fishing in no time at all!

Crab fishing is a difficult but rewarding profession. With some dedication and hard work, you can turn this career into a successful one. So why not take the plunge and see where it takes you?

And if you’re ready to dive in, stay tuned for our next section – Working Conditions – to get a glimpse of what life on the sea is really like!

Working Conditions

Working conditions on crab boats can vary greatly depending on the season, the size of the boat, and the region in which the fishermen are working.

But, generally speaking, this job is incredibly dangerous! 

Below are some important things to consider if you are considering this job. 

  • Extremely physically demanding work
  • Long hours and overnight shifts are common
  • Cold weather is part of the deal
  • Work still happens in rough waters and bad weather 
  • Risk of death or injury is high

Safety protocols are in place and should be adhered to strictly to ensure safety of the crew.

Finally, since crab fishing involves catch quotas and regulations, it’s important to stay up to date with all necessary paperwork and permit requirements in order to remain compliant with the law.

Overall, while it may not seem like an ideal profession for some people, those who take on this challenge will find themselves rewarded by both financial compensation and experiences out at sea that cannot be matched anywhere else!

Crab fishing can be a challenging and dangerous job, but for those who are passionate about the sea, it can also be incredibly rewarding. So if you’re ready to face the elements and embark on an exciting career, then crab fishing might just be the perfect opportunity for you! Now let’s explore what kind of financial compensation comes with this profession – How much does a crab fisherman make?

How much does a crab fisherman make?

The amount of money that a crab fisherman makes depends largely on the size of the boat, the region where they are fishing, and the number of crabs caught.

A crab fisherman will usually be seen as an independent contractor. 

On average, fishermen can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 per year. However, depending on how successful their catches are and how much of a quota they meet in a given season, they could potentially make more.

In addition to the income derived from catching crabs, there may also be other potential sources of income such as bonuses or tips from customers who purchase your catch. Furthermore, if you own your own boat and employ other crew members then you will have additional expenses to cover which could further increase your bottom line.

Overall, it is important to note that being a crab fisherman is not always about making money; it’s about being passionate about the sea and enjoying all that comes with it! So if you’ve got the right attitude and are willing to take risks then this could be an incredibly rewarding career choice for you!

What is the demand for crab fishermen?

There is no verified data on the demand for crab fisherman. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a 2% increase in projected jobs for all fishing and hunting workers. This would include crabbers. 

Since the onset of COVID, there has been an increased interest in crab (and all seafood) as families remained in lockdown. 

The future of crab fisherman are unknown, but many say it is not good. Ocean conditions are changing which is affecting the crab inventory. 

Landing A Job As A Crabber

Jobs on crab boats do not come easy. 

But there are some things you can do to increase your odds of starting that crab fishing career. 

Many beginner crabbers are called “greenhorns” and there is usually at least one greenhorn on every crab fishing boat. They will typically get some of the less interesting jobs on deck like preparing the bait or cleaning. 

As a greenhorn you may not even need experience, but you will need to be able to take direction and be willing to do the work the more senior crabbers do not want to do.

Sending in a resume with your previous experience is highly recommended. While 


Below are some resources used for this article, and to help you learn more before you dive into this career. 

Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.