Fishing vessel skipper

Fishing vessel skippers are in charge of the crew onboard sea-going fishing boats.

Average salary (a year)

£10,000 Starter


£60,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

41 to 43 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays away from home

How to become a Fishing vessel skipper

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You could do an intermediate apprenticeship in sea fishing to qualify as a deckhand. You'd then need to get several months' experience at sea before you can apply to skipper a vessel.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information


You can start as a deckhand at sea and learn on the job. You'll usually need around 18 months' experience before you can skipper a boat. You'll also need to have completed mandatory basic safety training for:

  • sea survival
  • fire fighting
  • health and safety
  • first aid

More information

Further information

You can find more advice about careers in the fishing industry from Seafish.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
  • leadership skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • Being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

  • have good eyesight
  • pass a medical check

You'll need to complete the Safety Awareness and Risk Assessment course, and Certificate of Competence once you've been working for 2 years. These are required by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Fishing vessel skippers work on different types of boat, including:

  • inshore vessels, which fish close to the shoreline
  • limited area vessels, which fish within a set area around the UK coast
  • unlimited area vessels, working in distant fishing grounds in international waters

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • planning fishing voyages
  • operating and maintaining equipment
  • navigating the vessel
  • managing the safety of the vessel and crew
  • working closely with onshore agents to land and sell the catch
  • making sure that fishing trips return a profit
  • making sure that each fishing trip follows maritime laws and international fishing regulations
  • using electronic systems for navigation, locating fish and monitoring onboard storage conditions

Working environment

You could work on a boat.

Your working environment may be cramped, outdoors in all weathers and physically demanding.

Career path and progression

With experience you may be able to move into related careers, like the Merchant Navy, harbour tug work, fish farming, offshore oil or gas exploration, offshore energy development, cargo operations or ferries.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Boatbuilder

  • Wage : £200.00 Weekly
  • Location: Gosport PO12 1AH

Marinas and Boatyards apprentice

  • Wage : £138.75 Weekly
  • Location: Salcombe TQ8 8NQ

Courses In England

Beached Boats in Watercolour

  • Start date: 11 May 2019
  • Location: Falmouth

Fast Rescue Boat

  • Provider: Tyne Coast College T/A South Tyneside College And Tyne Metropolitan College
  • Start date: 31 July 2019
  • Location: South Shields

Get help using this service

Call 08000 150 950

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

More ways to contact us

Is this page useful?

Yes No