Fishing Masters and Officers

Occupation:Fishing Masters and Officers
Category:Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

About the job

Nature of work:

Fishing masters and officers manage and operate saltwater and freshwater fishing vessels greater than 100 gross tonnes to pursue and land fish and other marine life. They are employed by establishments engaged in operating commercial fishing vessels.

Job duties:
Fishing masters and officers perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Command fishing vessels to catch fish and other marine life.
  • Determine areas for fishing, plot courses and compute navigational positions using compasses, charts, tables and other aids.
  • Steer vessels and operate navigational instruments and electronic fishing aids such as echo sounders and chart plotters.
  • Direct fishing operations and supervise crew activities.
  • Record fishing progress, crew activities, weather and sea conditions on ship's log.
  • Select and train vessel crews.
Sample job titles:
  • fishing master
  • fishing vessel captain
  • fishing vessel deck officer
  • fishing vessel master
  • fishing vessel mate
  • fishing vessel navigation officer

To work in these jobs, you need good eyesight and health. Physical strength may be necessary. You may be exposed to extreme weather conditions and varying climates. You must also be willing to travel for long periods at a time. To work as an officer, you should be self-disciplined and have strong leadership abilities.

Job requirements:
  • Some secondary school education is usually required.
  • A Fishing Master's Certificate is required.
  • A commercial fishing licence is required.
  • Completion of Transport Canada examinations is required to advance from Fishing Master Class IV through Class I. Training programs are provided in provincial training centres.
  • Progression to merchant or government vessel officer positions (which require a Marine Officer Certificate) is possible with additional training and experience.
Other considerations:

Most workers in these jobs actively fish for only part of each year. As well, work in these jobs is seasonal with employment peaking in the summer months. When fishing, most work for more than 50 hours per week. An individual's earnings will depend upon a number of factors, such as the type of boat and equipment used, the species sought, the allotted quota, and the market price for the catch. One to two years of experience as a fishing vessel deckhand is required. Captains require one year of service as officer in charge of the watch.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Limited

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “limited”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is below average when compared with other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. However, jobseekers may face some competition for those positions. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow slightly over the next few years, which should provide some additional opportunities for employment. (yet overall job prospects are still considered limited). With a large percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to be a key contributor to employment opportunities over the coming years. Fishing Masters and Officers most commonly work full-time hours.

The median employment income for 14% of Fishing Masters and Officers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $58,915. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, 59% of those who worked full-time year round had a median employment income of $43,600.
(Source: 2016 Census)

OccupationEstimated employment in 2018Estimated change in employment between 2017 and 2019Estimated openings due to growth and retirements, 2017-2019Estimated rate of unemployment in 2018 Estimated hourly earnings in 2015 (learn more)Estimated annual earnings in 2015
Fishing Masters and Officers850Weak growth25High
Minimum:  N/A
Median:  N/A
Maximum:  N/A
Minimum: $14,051
Median: $51,599
Maximum: $160,523
Occupations in Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining14,665Decline slightly910High
Minimum: $10.85
Median: $16.00
Maximum: $31.88
Minimum: $4,009
Median: $23,520
Maximum: $87,170
Fishing Masters and OfficersCompared to: Occupations in Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
Percent employed full-time93%84%
Percent self-employed15%22%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentFishing Masters and OfficersCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton21%$31,98513%$32,974
Annapolis Valley4%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeFishing Masters and OfficersCompared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% Employed% Employed
Median Age5145
GenderFishing Masters and OfficersCompared to: Occupations in Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% Employed% Employed
EducationFishing Masters and OfficersCompared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school35.7%$41,37734.0%$14,445
High school22.2%$38,33431.5%$14,229
Trades certificate23.7%$44,32514.0%$19,107
College certificate or diploma17.4%$45,82614.3%$21,289
University certificate or diplomaxx1.1%$17,641
Bachelor's degreex$51,8664.3%$15,980
University advanced certificate or diplomaxx0.3%$17,206
Master's degreexx0.4%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryxxN/AN/A
Wage Disclaimer

Hourly earnings data are from the Labour Force Survey by Statistics Canada. Data are not available for all occupations. Hourly earnings are calculated based on usual hours worked per week. This is how an annual salary, for instance, gets converted to an hourly rate. The data include full and part-time workers along with new and experienced workers. Self-employed workers are excluded.

Annual employment income data reported in the Work Prospects section, are from the 2011 National Household Survey by Statistics Canada. Much of the data (around 70%) came directly from tax records. The data relates to the year 2010 and includes total wages and salaries and net income from self-employment.


Employment Requirements & Contacts

Fishing Master
Not Provincially Regulated:This job may be regulated by a federal regulatory body.
Regulating body:
Transport Canada - Marine Safety Services
45 Alderney Drive
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4K2
(855) 859-3123
(902) 426-6657
Useful contacts:
Maritime Fishermen's Union
408 Main Street
Shediac, NB E4P 2G1
Tel: (506) 532-2485
Fax: (506) 532-2487
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nova Scotia Licensing Service Centre
P.O. Box 1035
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4T3
Tel: (902) 426-9966
Fax: (902) 426-5010 
Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council
38B John St, Suite 1
Yarmouth, NS B5A 3H2
Tel: (902) 742-6167
Fax: (902) 742-8391
Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture
1800 Argyle Street, 6th floor (Suite 607)
Halifax, NS B3J 2R5
Tel: (902) 424-4560
Fax: (902) 424-4671

Training Paths & Education

Program Name:Adult high school/secondary diploma programs
Education Level:This program is typically offered at the high school level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that defines the prescribed requirements, specified by the appropriate jurisdiction, for the completion of and graduation from a secondary school program of academic subject matter offered for adult learners outside of the regular secondary school program. This does not include adult compensatory education programs resulting in completion of a high school equivalency certificate or diploma.
See all institutions providing this program+
Universite Sainte-Anne
Siège Social: 1695, Route 1
Pointe-de-l'Église, NS B0W 1M0
(902) 769-2114
Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus
50 Elliott Road
Lawrencetown, NS B0S 1M0
(902) 825-3491
Nova Scotia Community College - Cumberland Campus
PO Box 550, 1 Main Street
Springhill, NS B0M 1X0
(902) 597-3737
Nova Scotia Community College - Akerley Campus
21 Woodlawn Road
Dartmouth, NS B2W 2R7
(902) 491-4900
Nova Scotia Community College - Burridge Campus
372 Pleasant Street
Yarmouth, NS B5A 2L2
(902) 742-3501
Nova Scotia Community College - Kingstec Campus
236 Belcher Street
Kentville, NS B4N 0A6
(902) 678-7341
Nova Scotia Community College - Lunenburg Campus
75 High Street
Bridgewater, NS B4V 1V8
(902) 543-4608
Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus
5685 Leeds Street
Halifax, NS B3K 2T3
(902) 491-6722
Nova Scotia Community College - Pictou Campus & School of Fisheries
PO Box 820, 39 Acadia Avenue
Stellarton, NS B0K 1S0
(902) 752-2002
Nova Scotia Community College - Shelburne Campus
PO Box 760, 1575 Lake Road
Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0
(902) 875-8640
Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute
226 Reeves Street
Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2
(902) 625-2380
Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus
PO Box 1042, 1240 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6J7
(902) 563-2450
Nova Scotia Community College - Truro Campus
36 Arthur Street
Truro, NS B2N 1X5
(902) 893-5385
Program Name:Nautical science/merchant marine officer
Education Level:This program may be offered at the college, trades, or university level.
Program Description:
This instructional program class comprises any program that prepares individuals to serve as captains, executive officers, engineers and ranking mates on commercially licensed inland, coastal and ocean-going vessels. These programs include courses in maritime traditions and law; maritime policy; economics and management of commercial marine operations; basic naval architecture and engineering; shipboard power systems engineering; crew supervision; and administrative procedures.
See all institutions providing this program+
Cape Breton University
PO Box 5300 1250 Grand Lake Road
Sydney, NS B1P 6L2
(888) 959-9995
Nova Scotia Community College - Strait Area Campus & Nautical Institute
226 Reeves Street
Port Hawkesbury, NS B9A 2A2
(902) 625-2380
Additional resources: