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Fishing Vessel Skipper Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Fishing Vessel Skipper. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Fishing Vessel Skipper
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Fishing Vessel Skipper Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Fishing vessel skippers are sailors, food producers and leaders of the fishing vessels crew. Skippers are responsible for planning fishing voyages, the operation and maintenance of equipment, navigation, the success of the trip in terms of size and landing of the catch, and the safety and management of the vessel and crew.

Skippers need to keep up-to-date with current systems and equipment. Fishing is changing rapidly because of continuing advancement of modern technology. The crews of larger vessels use highly efficient systems and equipment for navigation, finding and keeping fish. On smaller vessels, more manual systems may still be in place.

Fishing vessel skippers must be familiar with mercantile law and international regulations that affect fishing vessels, as well as any conditions and regulations laid down by the vessel owners. Skippers ensure that a profit is made from each fishing trip and liaise with appointed onshore agents concerning the landing and selling of the catch.

Hours and Environment:

Hours vary according to the size and purpose of the vessel. Small inshore vessels usually go to sea on a daily basis. Larger vessels can be at sea for several days, several weeks or months at a time.

Skippers work long hours each day at sea and, although usually sharing daily and nightly watches with the mate, must always be available in any emergency.

Fishing vessel crews work in a challenging environment, mainly out in the open. Work is physically demanding and can be hazardous, especially in freezing weather, storms and gales. Conditions on board are often cramped, with basic facilities.

Skills and Interests:

To be a fishing vessel skipper you should:

  • enjoy being at sea in all weathers, sometimes for long periods
  • have knowledge of the sea, seamanship, meteorology, electronics and engineering
  • have a sound knowledge of British and international regulations for fishing vessels
  • be able to lead and manage a close-knit team working in often difficult and cramped conditions
  • be able to take responsibility for personal and crew safety
  • be able to cope with, and take instant decisions in, emergency situations
  • have knowledge of first aid and be able to carry out emergency medical services
  • be physically fit with stamina, manual dexterity and a good sense of balance.


No formal academic qualifications are required to enter the fishing industry, but you must be over 16, and be reasonably literate and numerate.You will need to have have good hearing, eyesight and good colour vision.Certain medical conditions, for example diabetes and epilepsy, may be a barrier to entry for health and safety reasons.

All new entrants to the industry are required to take four Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) approved one-day training courses on basic health and safety, first aid, fire fighting and sea survival techniques.

Most skippers start work in the industry as deckhands or engineers and work their way up to become a skipper. For those interested in following this entry route please see the training requirements for fisherman/woman.


To become a qualified skipper you need the MCA Certificate of Competency. You get this by achieving an NVQ or SVQ and passing an oral exam. Different qualifications (known as tickets) are needed by skippers depending on the size and power of their fishing vessel and its area of operation:

Inshore area skippers are responsible for small vessels fishing close to shore. They need NVQ or SVQ Marine Vessel Operations (Skipper: Fishing Inshore) Level 3 and the Seafish Inshore Skipper''s certificate.

Limited area skippers fish within a defined area around the UK coast. They need NVQ or SVQ Marine Vessel Operations (Skipper: Fishing Limited) Level 4 and Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 2.

Unlimited area skippers fish in distant fishing grounds. They need NVQ or SVQ Marine Vessel Operations (Skipper: Fishing Unlimited) Level 4 and Deck Officer (Fishing Vessel) Class 1. Skippers of vessels in unlimited areas must also hold a Ship Captain̢۪s Medical qualification in order to deal with emergency medical care.


The UK fishing industry is mainly based around the Scottish islands, the east coast of Scotland and England and the south west. The majority of fishing vessel skippers are self-employed boat owners or involved in a partnership in which they have invested money. A few large companies own boats and employ skippers.

Experienced skippers may be able to move into related careers. These might include the Merchant Navy, support or standby vessels, harbour tug work, fish farming, oil or gas exploration, cargo operations or ferries.

Annual Income:

The annual income section is intended as a guideline only. Income for a fishing vessel skipper varies considerably, depending on the size and capacity of vessel and size and type of catch.

Average income is around £40,000, although this can be much less on some vessels.
On large vessels owned by larger companies you could expect to earn up to £65,000.

Further information:

Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Human Resources Recruitment Team
Bay 3/19
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
SouthamptonS015 1EG
Tel: 023 8032 9308

Scottish Fishermens Federation
14 Regent Quay
AB11 5AE
Tel: 01224 582583

Seafish Training *
Sea Fish Industry Authority
Seafish House
St Andrews Dock
Tel: 01482 327837

National Training Organisations (NTOs) ceased to be recognised by the government on 31 March 2002. However, some are continuing to operate in their respective fields. Please contact individual NTOs with queries regarding their current status.

The Secretary of State for Education and Skills is licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website:

Other Useful Fishing Vessel Skipper Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Fishery Vessel & Skipper job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Fishery Vessel & Skipper Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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