Fishing Vessel Deckhands

Occupation:Fishing Vessel Deckhands
Category:Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining

About the job

Nature of work:

This group of jobs is concerned with fishing support activities. Fishing vessel deckhands perform a variety of manual tasks on commercial fishing voyages, and maintain fishing vessels. They are employed by establishments that operate commercial fishing vessels and by self-employed fishermen/women.

Job duties:
Fishing vessel deckhands perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Prepare nets, lines and other fishing tackle, and operate fishing gear to catch fish and other marine life.
  • Clean, sort and pack fish in ice and stow catch in hold.
  • Repair nets, splice ropes and maintain fishing gear and other deck equipment.
  • Clean deck surfaces and fish hold.
  • Handle mooring lines during docking.
  • May steer vessels to and from fishing areas.
  • May prepare and cook meals for crew members.
Sample job titles:
  • fishboat deckhand
  • fishing vessel crewman/woman
  • fishing vessel deckhand
  • trawlerman/woman

For these jobs, you should enjoy working outdoors and being physically active. Good eyesight and health are important. You may be exposed to extreme weather conditions and varying climates. You must be alert, patient, and observant. Some jobs involve irregular or long hours and may be seasonal.

Job requirements:
  • There are no specific educational requirements.
  • On-the-job training is provided.
  • Fishing vessel deckhands require a commercial fishing licence.
Other considerations:

Most workers actively fish for only part of each year. As well, work in these jobs is seasonal where employment peaks in the summer months. 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.

Trawlermen/women require at least one year of experience. Fishing vessel deckhands may become skippers upon acquiring an entry licence and a boat and may also progress to watchkeeper or mate positions with additional training.

Labour Market Information

Work Prospects:Fair

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “average”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is comparable to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a fairly large occupation in Nova Scotia so job opportunities occur fairly regularly. The number employed in this occupation is expected to remain largely the same over the next few years. 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 Vessel Deckhands most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common. With employment conditions being seasonal in nature, periods of downtime or layoff throughout the year are fairly common.

The median employment income for 7% of Fishing Vessel Deckhands who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $56,425. 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 Vessel Deckhands1,410stable90High
Minimum: $11.00
Median: $17.36
Maximum: $32.05
Minimum: $8,237
Median: $18,828
Maximum: $79,617
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 Vessel DeckhandsCompared to: Occupations in Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
Percent employed full-time90%84%
Percent self-employed6%22%
Where will I likely work?
Area of EmploymentFishing Vessel DeckhandsCompared to: All NS Occupations
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Cape Breton39%$14,24713%$32,974
Annapolis Valley3%x13%$32,958
What are the workers like?
AgeFishing Vessel DeckhandsCompared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% Employed% Employed
Median Age4045
GenderFishing Vessel DeckhandsCompared to: Occupations in Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% Employed% Employed
EducationFishing Vessel DeckhandsCompared to: All Farming, Fishing, Forestry, and Mining
% EmployedMedian Annual Income% EmployedMedian Annual Income
Less than high school36.7%$22,32934.0%$14,445
High school29.5%$15,00631.5%$14,229
Trades certificate17.4%$23,93214.0%$19,107
College certificate or diploma13.6%$22,02614.3%$21,289
University certificate or diploma0.5%x1.1%$17,641
Bachelor's degree1.8%$14,2014.3%$15,980
University advanced certificate or diploma0.5%x0.3%$17,206
Master's degreeN/Ax0.4%x
Medicine, dentistry, veterinary, optometryN/AxN/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

No regulating bodies were found under this occupation profile
Useful contacts:
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

There is no information to display in this section
Additional resources:

There are no additional resources for this occupation.