How to Get a Job on a Tuna Boat

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If you are lured by the romance of being at sea, working on a tuna boat may appeal to you. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010, working on a fishing boat is one of the most strenuous occupations you can choose. It also involves long hours, seasonal employment and hazardous working conditions. People employed on tuna boats generally begin as deck hands and work their way up. On a tuna boat, the captain makes the decisions about where to fish, how to fish and what to use as bait.

Prepare a resume outlining your experience and qualifications to work on a tuna boat. People applying for first mate or boatswain positions should record their experience and provide references. If this is your first tuna boat job application, prepare a statement about why you want to work on a tuna boat, in lieu of actual experience, and stress that you are eager to learn.

Go to the docks and inquire about jobs available on a tuna boat. About 56 percent of fishing boats are privately owned, so seeking out the captain of a small operation may get you a job on a tuna boat.

Determine where the people who work on tuna boats hang out and go there. A casual barroom conversation may result in some insider information about which tuna boat is looking for crew members.

Find a tuna boat mentor. If you can team up with someone who has a wide range of experience on a tuna boat – say a first mate or a boatswain – he will be able to provide invaluable insight into the trade and what it is like to work at sea.

Be proactive. The more applications you can get out to various places, the more likely you are to find a job. Check Internet sites – such as Jobs 77 – and the American Tuna Boat Association for job listings on tuna boats.


The world of tuna boats is still a relatively “who you know” place, so try to meet as many people who work on the boats as possible.