Watching Lobster Wars really puts that steaming red lobster meal into perspective. It’s more than just food on your plate; it is literally a bunch of people putting their life on the line just so you can enjoy a buttered crustacean. This is a service that not a lot of people appreciate, and that rings true even when you consider their salaries.
Hey, life on a lobster boat isn’t luxurious by a long shot. But you’d think they would at least get paid a handsome sum after all of the hard work they put in for that fancy lobster dinner. Wondering how much money do lobstermen make? The numbers aren’t what you might think.
What is the Typical Lobsterman Salary?
People who fish for lobsters for a living earn close to three times the minimum wage. A lobsterman’s hourly rate can start at just $14.78, but may increase up to $25 per hour, depending on a variety of factors. Most often though, they make an average of just $19.14 hourly, which isn’t a lot.
That comes to an annual salary of about $40,000. However it’s important to keep in mind though that there are a range of factors that can affect their salary. That includes the state where they’re working, the size of the vessel they’re on, the amount of lobster they catch, and their level of experience.
More experienced lobstermen might be able to bag around $55,000 annually. Those who are willing to work longer shifts for longer periods of time should be able to enjoy the benefits of overtime pay, which might add significantly to their annual income.
Different states also offer different salaries for lobster fishermen. Here are some hourly rates for various states across the country:
Another thing to consider is that these salaries aren’t net earnings. There are a lot of extra fees that will have to be paid out of the lobstermen’s pockets. And that includes fishing licenses, gear, and even food. Sometimes, they also end up having to pay for fuel. So there’s definitely a lot to offset the earnings.
On the plus side, if a lobsterman is good at his trade and he knows how to catch more lobster, they stand the chance of increasing their earnings. Remember that these salaries rely heavily on how much they can haul back to shore. The more they bring home, the more they get paid.
How to Become a Lobster Fisherman
Interested in getting a job as lobster fisherman? Interestingly, it’s not like a lot of other fishing industries that will pretty much hire anyone off of the dock. The lobster industry is riddled with obstacles for hopeful beginners. That’s probably because most lobster boats are family owned and operated, which means they prioritize giving work to those they already know.
To become a lobster fisherman, it’s also important that you first complete an apprenticeship. This could take up to two years, which is why most vessels are interested in hiring teenagers so as to maximize their age since they’ll be in training for quite a while.
And it’s not just some DIY training course on a boat with a more experienced deckhand. These are accredited training programs that require up to 1,000 hours of training with a license lobster fishing professional. Once you’ve completed the course, you’re also supposed to take an exam to determine how much you know about boating and fishing.
When all of that is done, that’s the only time you can qualify to apply for your fishing license. But it doesn’t end there. Once you have your fishing license, you could end up waiting up to 15 years to get a spot on a lobster boat.
Why is that, you might ask? Well, most boats have already maxed out their crew count, and not a lot of lobstermen are looking to retire. Statistics suggest that lobstermen continue to work way into their 80’s. And unless they decide to give up the gun, you might find yourself wait-listed for a while.
Qualities of a Lobster Fisherman
In essence, there are no greenhorns on a lobster boat because everyone who qualifies needs to undergo training and certification. So by the time you get on the boat, you should already know something about fishing for lobster. But there’s more to qualifying for the job than just that:
A lobsterman’s job can be physically demanding. It’s important that you stay fit and get used to manual labor if you want to keep up with the demands of the work. Injuries are also common, so it’s ideal for lobstermen to have a high pain threshold.
Quick Thinking and Reflexes
When someone tells you to do something, you better do it without a moment’s pause. Everyone on the boat is working to maximize the haul while minimizing injuries. Following instructions as soon as they’re given can help towards that end.
You won’t always have your mentor to tell you what to do. A lobsterman should be able to figure things out on the fly without having to ask too many questions. See to it that you try coming up with your own solutions before you raise your concerns with the higher ups.
A lobster boat won’t return for months after it leaves the dock. And while a lot of your time will be spent working the nets, there will be long hours of no action especially as you travel. These silent times in the middle of nowhere can play tricks on your mind and make you feel a little mentally unstable.
Lobster Fishing is No Joke
How much money do lobstermen make? Not enough, that’s for sure. The demanding work conditions and dangerous environment make the lobster fishing occupation anything but easy. So the next time you sit down to enjoy a hot lobster meal, take the time to think about the hard working lobstermen who made it possible for you to enjoy that delectable crustacean.