Deckhands are an integral part of any fishing crew. A career as a deckhand is ideal for beginners looking to work in the heart of the industry.

Deckhands undertake many duties around the vessel, including preparing the deck, handling and repairing gear, and handling and storing the catch. Below is a summary of the responsibilities and job opportunities of both trainee and experienced deckhands. More information about training for fishermen can be found here.

Trainee deckhand

Trainee deckhands undertake work on the vessel's deck, including the use, storage and maintenance of fishing gear, though helping out in the engine room may occasionally be necessary.

With experience, trainee deckhands will become competent deckhands who can move on to become engineer or deck officers on larger vessels, or they may go on to become mate or skippers of inshore vessels.

New entrants must attend basic courses which cover the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) statutory safety training requirements in sea survival, first aid, fire fighting and health and safety. On top of this, all deckhands must be physically fit, have good eyesight, and be able to communicate well with others.

Experienced deckhand

Experienced deckhands must prepare the deck and equipment for catching, operate and maintain fishing gear and other equipment, and gut and store fish. Deckhands may also partake in cooking for crew members and must ensure the vessel is kept clean.

Experienced deckhands can progress to becoming a mate and then a skipper, once the proper qualifications have been achieved, or instead move into engineering. Some deckhands may invest in their own small boats and become inshore skippers. Moving into related maritime industries, including the Merchant Navy, offshore support and harbour tugboat work, is also possible.

In addition to the requirements for new entrants, experienced deckhands must attend another basic course which covers MCA statutory safety training requirements in safety awareness. On top of this, all deckhands must be physically fit, have good eyesight and be able to communicate well with others.

Further info

For more information about becoming a deckhand or trainee fisherman, see the National Careers Service.