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Fishing vessel skipper

Alternative titles for this job include

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

Average salary (a year)

£20,000 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

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a fishing vessel skipper

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


If you are 16 to 19 you could start off as a fishing boat deck hand. You can do a Diploma in Sea Fishing while getting experience at sea through a fishing industry college.

When you have experience you can learn and train on the job to go on to become a skipper.

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements for this route but it may help you to get in if you have:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course

More Information


Advanced apprenticeships relevant to this role include:

  • Workboat crewmember
  • Boatmaster
  • Officer of the watch

These apprenticeships typically take 24 months to complete as a mix of learning in the workplace and off-the-job study.

Entry requirements

To get onto an apprenticeship, you'll find it useful to have:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced 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 being a skipper and other careers in the fishing industry from Seafish.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

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
  • physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

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

In your day-to-day duties you may:

  • plan fishing voyages
  • operate and maintain equipment
  • navigate the vessel
  • manage the safety of the vessel and crew
  • work closely with onshore agents to land and sell the catch
  • make sure that fishing trips return a profit
  • make sure that each fishing trip follows maritime laws and international fishing regulations
  • use electronic systems for navigation, locating fish and monitoring onboard storage conditions

Working environment

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

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience and further training you may be able to move into related career areas like:

  • the Merchant Navy
  • harbour tug work
  • fish farming
  • offshore oil or gas exploration
  • offshore sustainable energy development
  • cargo or passenger ferry operations
  • deck or engineering officer roles

Current opportunities

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Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a fishing vessel skipper right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

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Jobs In the United Kingdom

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