Deckhands work on land and sea to look after shipping equipment used to catch fish. This may include communications, stores, and maintenance of nets, lines and traps.

Where deck and fishing hands are employed

Employment may be available in fisheries cooperatives, state, territory or federal fisheries agencies, fishing gear manufacturers, research vessels, equipment suppliers, and fish processing firms. Many smaller fishing vessels are family owned and operated, and employment on such vessels is often from within the family.

Demand for people to work on fishing vessels is seasonal.

While the fishing sector provides the most job opportunities for deckhands, employment is also available on recreational, transport and other commercial vessels.


Full-time deck and fishing hands in South Australia generally earn more than $1,600 per week.

Graph of pay scales for deck and fishing hands

Job prospects

In 2011 there were 400 people employed full-time as deck and fishing hands in South Australia, compared with 443 in 2006.

How to become one

You can work as a deckhand without formal qualifications. You will probably get some informal training on the job. However, entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a vocational education and training qualification in fishing operations or transport and distribution. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. You may be able to study through distance education.

You can also become a deckhand through a traineeship in aquaculture, fishing operations or transport and distribution (maritime operations/marine engine driving). Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require year 10.  For more information see traineeships.

Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

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Career information has been sourced from government publications, see data sources for more information.

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