Fishing and Hunting Worker Career Description


Fishing and hunting workers catch and trap various types of animal life.

What they do

The fish and wild animals fishing and hunting workers catch are for human food, animal feed, bait, and other uses.

Fishers and related fishing workers typically do the following:

  • Locate fish with the use of fish-finding equipment
  • Steer vessels and operate navigational instruments
  • Maintain engines, fishing gear, and other onboard equipment by making minor repairs
  • Sort, pack, and store the catch in holds with ice and other freezing methods
  • Measure fish to ensure that they are of legal size
  • Return undesirable or illegal catches to the water
  • Guide nets, traps, and lines onto vessels by hand or with hoisting equipment
  • Signal other workers to move, hoist, and position loads of the catch

Hunters and trappers typically do the following:

  • Locate wild animals with the use of animal-finding equipment
  • Catch wild animals with weapons, such as rifles or bows, or with traps, such as snares
  • Sort, pack, and store the catch with ice and other freezing methods
  • Follow hunting regulations, which vary by state and always include a safety component
  • Sell what they catch for food and decorative purposes


Fishers and related fishing workers work in deep or shallow water. In deep water, they typically perform their duties on large fishing boats that are equipped for long stays at sea. Some process the catch on board and prepare the fish for sale.

Other fishers work in shallow water on small boats that often have a crew of only one or two. They might put nets across the mouths of rivers or inlets; use pots and traps to catch fish or shellfish, such as lobsters and crabs; or use dredges to gather other shellfish, such as oysters and scallops.

Some fishers harvest marine vegetation rather than fish. They use rakes and hoes to gather Irish moss and kelp.

The following are types of fishers and related fishing workers:

  • Fishing boat captains plan and oversee the fishing operation including the species of fish to be caught, the location of the best fishing grounds, the method of capture, trip length, and sale of the catch. They also supervise the crew and record daily activities in the ship’s log.To plot a ship’s course, fishing boat captains use electronic navigational equipment, including Global Positioning System (GPS) instruments. They also use radar and sonar to avoid obstacles above and below the water and to find fish.
  • Fishing deckhands perform the everyday tasks of baiting; setting lines or traps; hauling in and sorting the catch; and maintaining the boat and fishing gear. Deckhands also secure and remove mooring lines when docking or undocking the boat.

Fishers work in commercial fishing, which does not include recreational fishing. For more information on workers on boats that handle fishing charters, see the profile on water transportation workers.

Aquaculture—raising and harvesting fish and other aquatic life under controlled conditions in ponds or confined bodies of water—is a different field. For more information, see the profile on farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers.

Hunters and trappers locate wild animals with GPS instruments, compasses, charts, and whistles. They then catch or kill them with traps or weapons. Hunters and trappers sell the wild animals they catch, for either food, fur, or decorative purposes.

Work Environment

Fishing and hunting operations are conducted under various environmental conditions, depending on the geographic region, body of water or land, and kinds of animals sought. Storms, fog, and wind may hamper fishing vessels or cause them to suspend fishing operations and return to port.

Although fishing gear has improved and operations have become more mechanized, netting and processing fish are nonetheless strenuous activities. Newer vessels have improved living quarters and amenities, but crews still experience the aggravations of confined quarters and the absence of family.

How to become a Fishing and/or Hunting Worker

Fishing and hunting workers usually learn on the job. A formal educational credential is not required.

A formal educational credential is not required for one to become fishing or hunting worker. However, fishers may improve their chances of getting a job by enrolling in a 2-year vocational–technical program. Some community colleges and universities offer fishery technology and related programs that include courses in seamanship, vessel operations, marine safety, navigation, vessel repair, and fishing gear technology. These programs are typically located near coastal areas and include hands-on experience.

Most fishing and hunting workers learn on the job. They first learn how to sort and clean the animals they catch. Fishers would go on to learn how to operate the boat and fishing equipment.

Many prospective fishers start by finding work through family or friends, or simply by walking around the docks and asking for employment. Aspiring fishers also can look online for employment. Some larger trawlers and processing ships are run by big fishing companies with human resources departments to which new workers can apply. Operators of large commercial fishing vessels must complete a training course approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Most hunters and trappers have previous recreational hunting experience.

Captains of fishing boats and hunters and trappers must be licensed.

Crewmembers on certain fish-processing vessels may need a merchant mariner’s document. The U.S. Coast Guard issues these documents, as well as licenses, to people who meet specific health, physical, and academic requirements.

States set licensing requirements for boats operating in state waters, defined as inland waters and waters within 3 miles of the coast.

Fishers need a permit to fish in almost any water. Permits are distributed by states for state waters and by regional fishing councils for federal waters. The permits specify the fishing season, the type and amount of fish that may be caught, and, sometimes, the type of permissible fishing gear.

Hunters and trappers need a state license to hunt in any land or forest. Licenses specify the hunting season, the type and amount of wild animals that may be caught, and the type of weapons or traps that can be used.


The median annual wage for fishing and hunting workers was $28,530 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $18,710, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $48,170.

Job Outlook

Employment of fishing and hunting workers is projected to decline 8 percent from 2019 to 2029. Fishing and hunting workers depend on the ability of fish stocks and wild animals to reproduce and grow.

Governmental efforts to replenish fish stocks have led to some species being regulated under fishing quotas or catch shares. These quotas dictate how many fish each fisher may catch and keep. Additional quotas or catch shares can typically be purchased, but they are often very expensive. The implementation of additional catch share programs may reduce demand for fishers. However, new programs must undergo several years of research and public review before being approved.

Similar Job Titles

Captain, Clam Digger, Commercial Crabber, Commercial Fisherman, Commercial Fishing Vessel Operator, Crew Member, Deckhand, Fisherman, Lobsterman, Menhaden Fishing Crew Member, Animal Damage Control Agent, Fur Trapper, Hunter, Hunting Guide, Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator, Nuisance Wildlife Trapper, Predator Control Trapper, Trapper, Urban Wildlife Damage Control Specialist, Wildlife Control Operator

Related Occupations

Landscaping and Groundskeeping Worker, Nursery Worker, Farmworker/Farm/Ranch and Aquacultural Animals, Fishers and Related Fishing Workers, Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaner, Roustabouts-Oil and Gas, Tire Repairers and Changers

More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.

Magazines and Publications

Video Transcript

Fishers and fishing workers experience the thrill of the catch, along with long waits and fruitless searches. They use nets, fishing rods, traps, and other equipment to catch and gather aquatic animals. The fishing boat captain runs the fishing operation, and decides where to fish and when to return to port. Fishing deckhands perform the everyday tasks of baiting… setting lines or traps… hauling in and sorting the catch… and maintaining the boat and fishing gear. On larger operations, crews work together hoisting heavy nets or using machinery to move large catches. They may be at sea for weeks or even months. Some fishers work on small boats with a crew of just one or two, using nets or dredges, or setting out pots and traps for lobsters and crabs. Some workers rake for kelp and other marine vegetation. Commercial fishing can be dangerous, and medical care is often not immediately available. Many fishers are self-employed and are also seasonal workers, working long hours at strenuous tasks. There is no education requirement for fishing; most learn on the job. Captains must be licensed. Fishers need a permit to fish in almost any water. Permits specify the fishing season… the type and amount of fish that may be caught… and—sometimes—the type of permissible fishing gear.

Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH,
CareerOneStop, O*Net Online