California Commercial Fishing Apprenticeship Program

Commercial Fisher Apprenticeship Workshop Header

Training for a 21st Century Fishing Career

COVID has suspended training, we hope to resume in 2022!

About 100 hours of interactive workshops followed by 1,000 hours of on-the-job training over 6-12 months.

Please make sure you understand and comply with the entry requirements described below

Learn as you work under experienced California fishermen

fisheries science, conservation & practice -- boat & fishing gear competency -- business & marketing -- safety & seamanship
Woman at helm of fishing boat.


Why become a fishing apprentice? 

Fishing can be a viable career, especially given the growing demand for local, responsibly-sourced seafood. But how can you get started in the business?

Regulations are complex. Working at sea can be challenging. Selling the product—especially new and emerging fish species that people may not know about—requires business and marketing skills. By apprenticing with experienced fishermen, you can gain the knowledge and skills to launch your career in fishing.


What’s involved?

The training program will take 6 to 12 months, starting with about 120 hours of workshop instruction followed by a minimum of 1,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training. Trainees earn money while they work and scholarships will also be available. Total estimated costs range from $500 to $1000 before scholarships.

Candidates must be at least 18 years old, be nominated by a licensed commercial fisherman sponsor, meet program entry criteria and pass a probationary period before working on boats. 

Woman holding lobster at fish market.

Workshops: Workshop instruction prepares you for and supplements on-the-job training. You will learn about various aspects of the occupation, such as marine science, fisheries management, data collection, safety, seamanship, marketing and business. Workshops will be conducted over a two-week period at the start of the program and will be provided through partnerships with public and private education groups. Some activities will be online.

Hands-on experience: Licensed California commercial fishermen provide training before, during and after fishing trips to teach you how to prepare, operate, maintain, repair and stow boats and gear. Training also covers the sale of catch.


Certificates of Completion

After the program, you will have gained a solid foundation in modern commercial fishing skills and an understanding of the environment in which fishermen work. By the end of the program, you will receive the following certificates or cards:

  • The California Commercial Fishing Apprenticeship Program
  • Training in first aid, CPR and use of AED
  • AMSEA Drill Conductor Training
  • California Boater Card

How do I find a licensed commercial fisherman sponsor?

You will need to connect with a fisherman who is willing to hire you as a crew member for your 1,000 hrs of on-the-job training. So, head down to the docks, visit your local fishermen's market and make those connections! 


Contact information 

California Commercial Fishing Apprenticeship Program
California Sea Grant, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Dr. #0232
La Jolla, CA 92093-0232

phone: 858-534-4600