Careers at sea

Jobs and training opportunities in commercial fishing

Careers at sea

Jobs and training opportunities in commercial fishing

Life as a commercial fisherman is both incredibly challenging and immensely rewarding.

If you love the sea, don’t mind hard graft and want to help keep an ancient and vital industry thriving, then a job as a commercial fisherman could be your ideal career move.

What does a commercial fisherman do?

Commercial fishermen work as part of a team, both onshore and at sea.  They are involved in the whole fishing operation from sea to sale, including deciding which fish to catch, where and how to best catch them and where to sell them for the best price.  This includes ensuring the safe navigation of the vessel to and from fishing grounds, the construction, fitting and mending of fishing gear, deploying and retrieving gear, and processing, storing and landing the fish and shellfish caught.  They also get involved in the collection of data for scientists and policy makers to help inform future policies to ensure stocks are fished sustainably and available to the next generation of fishermen.

How do I become a commercial fisherman?​

Fishing is a vocational profession and therefore doesn’t require any formal qualifications. Previous experience is desirable but it is not essential, as on the job training will be provided to the right person.

However, because commercial fishing is such a physically demanding job, anyone looking to make a career at sea must have an ENG1 medical certificate before getting started.

Find out more about on the job training

How can SWFPO help?

Funding is available through Seafish for all fishermen in the UK (including foreign nationals) to improve their skills and safety knowledge. We also have funding available to support our members and their crews with:

  • Employing a new entrant on their vessel
  • Enabling their crews to undertake training above and beyond minimum legal requirements, including offering bespoke financial support packages for members with experienced fishermen looking to pursue Class 1 & 2 tickets.
  • Assisting them with accessing the necessary information, advice and guidance on all aspects of safety on fishing vessels and training grants
  • Identifying common training needs across our membership and arranging fleet based training courses at convenient times and locations for members.

Consideration is also being given to the development of a bespoke SWFPO training programme to enhance the skills of members crews over a 12-18 month period


Fishermen's Apprenticeship

SWFPO have been working with South Devon College to develop the course content and curriculum for the new fisherman’s apprenticeship.  This new 18-month programme aims to provide trainees with a structured course and a professional qualification in commercial fishing.  

South Devon College have also developed a 7-week professional fisherman’s traineeship programme as a pre-apprenticeship.  Under this programme, trainees must complete at least 70 hours of unpaid work experience.  A traineeship gives a young person (aged 16-24) the opportunity to have a go at fishing on different sized commercial vessels/ gear types before committing to an apprenticeship.

A day in the life of...

Coming soon

Current vacancies


Position:  Experienced Skipper & Crew

Vessel details: KCJ Rose, 15m stern trawler working out of Brixham

Contact SWFPO


Position:  Fisher Apprentices

Details:  We’re currently recruiting a number of apprentices to join a variety of commercial fishing vessels in membership of the SWFPO.

Contact SWFPO