How to Become a Fishing or Hunting Worker
Fishers and hunting workers usually acquire their occupational skills on the job.
Fishing and hunting workers usually learn on the job. A formal educational credential is not required.
A formal educational credential is not required for one to become fishing or hunting worker. However, fishers may improve their chances of getting a job by enrolling in a 2-year vocational–technical program. Some community colleges and universities offer fishery technology and related programs that include courses in seamanship, vessel operations, marine safety, navigation, vessel repair, and fishing gear technology. These programs are typically located near coastal areas and include hands-on experience.
Most fishing and hunting workers learn on the job. They first learn how to sort and clean the animals they catch. Fishers would go on to learn to operate the boat and fishing equipment.
Many prospective fishers start by finding work through family or friends, or simply by walking around the docks and asking for employment. Aspiring fishers also can look online for employment. Some larger trawlers and processing ships are run by big fishing companies with human resources departments to which new workers can apply. Operators of large commercial fishing vessels must complete a training course approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Critical-thinking skills. Fishing and hunting workers must reach conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They determine how to improve their catch and must react appropriately to weather conditions.
Detail oriented. Fishing and hunting workers must be precise and accurate when measuring the quality of their catch or prey. They must also pay attention to detail when working with various fishing gear so as to guard against injury.
Listening skills. Because they take instructions from captains and other crew members or hunters, fishing and hunting workers need to communicate well with others. Therefore, effective listening is critical to these workers.
Machine operation skills. Fishing and hunting workers must be able to operate, and perform routine maintenance on, complex fishing and navigation machinery, as well as weapons and traps.
Physical stamina. Fishing and hunting workers need endurance. They must be able to work long hours, often under strenuous conditions.
Physical strength. Fishing and hunting workers must use physical strength, along with hand dexterity and coordination, to perform difficult tasks repeatedly.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Captains of fishing boats and hunters and trappers must be licensed.
Crew members on certain fish-processing vessels may need a merchant mariner’s document. The U.S. Coast Guard issues these documents, as well as licenses, to people who meet specific health, physical, and academic requirements.
States set licensing requirements for boats operating in state waters, defined as inland waters and waters within 3 miles of the coast.
Fishers need a permit to fish in almost any water. Permits are distributed by states for state waters and by regional fishing councils for federal waters. The permits specify the fishing season, the type and amount of fish that may be caught, and, sometimes, the type of permissible fishing gear.
Hunters and trappers need a license from states to hunt in any land or forest. Licenses specify the hunting season, the type and amount of wild animals that may be caught, and the type of weapons or traps that can be used.
Experienced, reliable fishing boat deckhands can become boatswains, then second mates, first mates, and, finally, captains. Those who are interested in ship engineering may gain experience with maintaining and repairing ship engines to become licensed chief engineers on large commercial boats. In doing so, they must meet the Coast Guard’s licensing requirements as well. For more information, see the profile on water transportation workers.
Almost all captains are self-employed, and most eventually own, or partially own, one or more fishing boats. Most hunters and trappers are also self-employed.