Fishing vessel skipper

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

Salary range: £10,000 to £60,000

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, or equivalent, 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
  • 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

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.

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