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Fishing and Hunting For a Living: 10 Facts You Need to Know

fishing and hunting workers

Fishing and hunting workers catch and trap various types of animal life. The fish and wild animals they catch are for human food, animal feed, bait, and other uses.

Fishers work in commercial fishing, which does not include recreational fishing. For more information on workers on boats that handle fishing charters, see the profile on water transportation workers.

Aquaculture—raising and harvesting fish and other aquatic life under controlled conditions in ponds or confined bodies of water—is a different field.

Hunting and Fishing Job Overview

Work Environment

The work environment for fishing and hunting operations varies with the region, body of water or land, and kinds of animals sought. Fishing and hunting workers often work under hazardous conditions that can lead to injuries or fatalities.

How to Become a Fishing or Hunting Worker

Fishing and hunting workers usually learn on the job. No formal education is required.

Pay

Wage data reported for this occupation were updated most recently in May 2017.

The median annual wage for fishing and hunting workers was $28,530 in May 2017.

Job Outlook

Employment of fishing and hunting workers is projected to decline 8 percent from 2019 to 2029.

1. Fisher Duties are More Than Catching Fish

Fishers not only have to locate fish with fish-finding equipment, they have to operate boats, use navigational instruments, maintain boat engines and fishing gear and know how to repair tools and equipment. They also need to know how to wort, pack and keep fish frozen.

2. Fishermen Must Have Integrity and Know the Rules of the Water

Some fish are not legal to catch and keep. These workers have to know what the illegal catches are and when a fish is not of a legal size.

3. Hunters and Trappers Also Have to Know a Ton of Regulations

Of course hunters and trappers have to to know how to find and trap or kill animals in a safe way. But they also have to know when, where and which animals can be legally caught.

4. Fishers Can Spend Days at Sea

Fishers and related fishing workers work in deep or shallow water. In deep water, they typically perform their duties on large fishing boats that are equipped for long stays at sea. Some process the catch on board and prepare the fish for sale.

Other fishers work in shallow water on small boats that often have a crew of only one or two. They might put nets across the mouths of rivers or inlets; use pots and traps to catch fish or shellfish, such as lobsters and crabs; or use dredges to gather other shellfish, such as oysters and scallops.

5. There Are More Types of Fishing Workers Than You Think

Fishing Boat Captains

These workers plan and oversee the fishing operation including the species of fish to be caught, the location of the best fishing grounds, the method of capture, trip length, and sale of the catch.

They also supervise the crew and record daily activities in the ship’s log.To plot a ship’s course, fishing boat captains use electronic navigational equipment, including Global Positioning System (GPS) instruments.

They also use radar and sonar to avoid obstacles above and below the water and to find fish.

Fishing Deckhands

Deckhands perform the everyday tasks of baiting; setting lines or traps; hauling in and sorting the catch; and maintaining the boat and fishing gear.

Deckhands also secure and remove mooring lines when docking or undocking the boat.

6. Fishing and hunting workers held about 36,700 jobs in 2019.

The largest employers of fishing and hunting workers were:

Fishing, hunting and trapping54%
Self-employed workers34

7. Yes, Fishing and Hunting Jobs are Dangerous

Commercial fishing and hunting can be dangerous and can lead to workplace injuries or fatalities. Fishing and hunting workers often work under hazardous conditions.

Transportation to a hospital or doctor is often not readily available for these workers because they can be out at sea or in a remote area.

And although fatalities are uncommon, fishing and hunting workers experience one of the highest rates of occupational fatalities of all occupations.

Most fatalities that happen to fishers and related fishing workers are from drowning.

The crew must guard against the danger of injury from malfunctioning fishing gear, entanglement in fishing nets and gear, slippery decks, ice formation, or large waves washing over the deck.

Malfunctioning navigation and communication equipment and other factors may lead to collisions, shipwrecks, or other dangerous situations, such as vessels becoming caught in storms.

Hunting accidents can occur because of the weapons and traps these workers use. Hunters and trappers minimize injury by wearing the appropriate gear and following detailed safety procedures. Specific safety guidelines vary by state.

8. Work Schedules Are Seasonal and Long

Fishing and hunting workers often endure long shifts and irregular work schedules. Commercial fishing trips may require workers to be away from their home port for several weeks or months. For the jobs we studied, deckhands, for example often work 16+ hour days, 7 days a week.

Many fishers are seasonal workers, and those jobs are usually filled by students and by people from other occupations who are available for seasonal work, such as teachers. For example, employment of fishers in Alaska increases significantly during the summer months, which constitute the salmon season. During these times, fishers can expect to work long hours.

Additionally, states may only allow hunters and trappers to hunt or trap during certain times of the year depending on the type of wild animals sought.

9. This Job is for Freedom Loving Thinkers: Personality, Career Interests and Work Values

Fishing and hunting jobs appeal to people who want independence and are good at solving problems. If you’re an ISTP personality type or an Enneagram Type 5, this job fills your need to do things your way. While you’re not opposed to following a certain amount of rules or established ways of doing your job, you want to have the freedom to improve on it.

Career Interests for Fishing and Hunting Jobs

There are 6 career interests that categorize all jobs. The career interests help match the tasks you are most interested in doing to jobs. The six career interests are conventional, investigative, enterprising, realistic, social and artistic.

Don’t know what your career interests are? Take our career quiz.

  • Realistic —This work includes practical, hands-on problems and solutions. It often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative — Investigative jobs work with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Enterprising — Enterprising jobs often involve starting up and carrying out projects. This can mean leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

So if you are interested in a job that doesn’t sit behind a desk, involves solving problems and making decisions and have a higher-than-average risk threshold, this could be a job for you.

10. No Formal Education Required

While there’s a lot to learn at this job, you don’t need to have credentials or any prior experience. You do, however, need basic knowledge of how to use a hunting weapon, sturdy sea legs and a willingness to follow directions. You also have to be physically in good condition to pull in nets, work deck gear and other physical tasks for long periods of time.

Related Jobs

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of fishing and hunting workers.

Water Transportation Workers

Water transportation workers operate and maintain vessels that take cargo and people over water.

$57,330

Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers

Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers run establishments that produce crops, livestock, and dairy products.

$71,160

More Information About Hunting and Fishing Jobs

For more information about licensing of fishing boat captains and about requirements for merchant mariner documentation, visit

National Maritime Center, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters

For more information about hunting licenses, visit

Where to Hunt

Related BLS Articles

Beyond the Numbers: “Facts of the catch: occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities to fishing workers, 2003–2009,” [PDF]

O*NET

Fishers and Related Fishing Workers

Hunters and Trappers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fishing and Hunting Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/farming-fishing-and-forestry/fishers-and-related-fishing-workers.htm (visited ).

 

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Kate Williams

Kate Williams is a business communications expert and is the editor of Job Affirmations. She is a professional resume writer and has studied Myers-Briggs personality types and how they influence career choice. Job Affirmations has hundreds of job descriptions categorized by the 16 Myers-Briggs types, by career interests and work values. Kate also shares her best writing tips including the proper formatting of emails and cover letters You'll find positive affirmations for work, inspirational quotes, career vision boards for your best year ever.

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