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Offshore fishing jobs can be extremely lucrative, with deck hands making $50,000 or more a year, and captains making twice that amount. In fact, a mate on an offshore boat can bring home $5,000 to $10,000 in just 10 days. I have worked on several of these offshore boats and during the winter season, when the lobstering was really good my biggest check was well over $5,000 for a nine-day trip. It is not an easy job, however, and requires a lot of work and physical stamina, as well as the ability to stay awake and alert for up to 36 hours at a stretch.
Locate an offshore fishing company near your home. Most offshore fishing companies don't have websites and they don't run classified ads. So you'll have to look in the Yellow Pages or go to your local bar and start a conversation with a few fishermen and ask them where or who they work for.
Go to commercial fishing docks where offshore boats unload their catch. Talk to one of the mates at these docks about where you can go to get a "site" (position) on an offshore boat. If they are no offshore fleets operating at these docks, they will know where to point you.
Contact the fleet manager of the offshore fishing company and ask for a site on an offshore boat. Give them a good reason to want to hire you. Work ethic, a little ruggedness and desire are really all that is needed. The fleet manager will give you instructions on what to do next. At the company I worked for, there was an orientation with a short video showing what the work was like.
Wait for the fleet manager to contact you. They will call to let you know when a site opens up. Usually, this happens when another deck hand leaves the boat or takes a trip off.
Pack a sea bag with plenty of sweatpants, sweatshirts, socks and other work clothes. Then show up on time, be ready to work and show them you can handle the stress of the job.
Tell the fleet manager you want a full-time site on a boat after the trip and to keep you on the waiting list. If another site opens up, and the captain says you are a good deck hand, the fleet manager will call you again. At some point you will be able to land a full-time site on a boat when a deck hand quits or gives up their site.
It helps to gain some basic sea knowledge before you go. Learn how to tie a few knots such as a bowline or a double beckett and how to use a fid to splice lines together.
Offshore fishing jobs are not for the weak of heart or those that get seasick. Most trips last from ten days to over a month. You need excellent physical stamina and you should make sure everything on land is taken care of while you are gone.