How Much Do Greenhorns Make Crab Fishing?

Getting a job as a greenhorn on a crab fishing boat in Alaska isn’t easy, but it can be done if you’re willing to start from the bottom and work to prove your worth. The crab fishing industry is still one of the most dangerous industries to work in, but there’s a lot of money to be made catching crabs.

So, how much do greenhorns make crab fishing? Greenhorns typically earn between 6% and 8% of a crab fishing boat’s haul. If the crab fishing boat catches $150,000 worth of king crab, a greenhorn could earn $9,000 per trip. The greenhorn’s crab fishing salary will be reduced because they have to pay for food, fishing license, and equipment.  

How much Greenhorns earn per year depends on many factors. Keep reading to learn what greenhorns are and what they do on a crab boat. 

What Are Greenhorns?

A greenhorn is at the bottom of the crab boat hierarchy. Although both men and women can work as greenhorns, men are more likely to apply for this position.

Greenhorns work for a season or two on the deck of a crab boat, assisting the deckhands and doing all the grunt work. 

The term “greenhorn” is mainly used to describe a person who is a novice and lacks experience. In this case, this term is used for persons who don’t have experience working in the crab fishing industry.

What Does a Greenhorn Do on a Crab Boat?

What Does a Greenhorn Do on a Crab Boat

A greenhorn is basically a rookie on a crab fishing boat. Greenhorns are required to do all types of jobs that no other crew member wants to do.

From preparing bait, hauling pots, repairing broken fishing equipment, and cooking meals for the crew to assisting the captain in whatever he needs, a greenhorn also does a range of other grunt work required by the captain.

The greenhorn’s exact duties may vary depending on the boat and include serving as a mate or deckhand, depending on experience. Dropping nets into the sea and operating nets using a tiller to maneuver the net for hauling may also be required from a greenhorn. 

A greenhorn will also be required to signal the crew members the haul’s size or an estimated number of crabs caught per minute while catching crabs. Greenhorns also need to throw overboard all bycatch and crabs that aren’t selected without damaging them unnecessarily.

Being available around the clock, keeping the boat clean, and staying on the good side of the captain and crew are also expected of Greenhorns, among many other things. 

Greenhorns Average Salary

A greenhorn’s crab fishing salary will depend on the deal they make with the boat’s captain. Rookies can typically make 30,000 dollars in their first season, which usually lasts around three months. 

Some greenhorns can earn even more, given their experience and the motivation to work and prove themselves to the boat’s crew and captain. 

Greenhorns sometimes don’t work for a fixed salary but get a percentage of the boat haul. Depending on a captain and the deal made, a greenhorn can earn between 6% and 8% of the haul’s value. 

But, when the crab boat has a bad day on the water, greenhorns are basically losing money because the food they are eating is being paid for from their paychecks. 

Many greenhorns and deckhands are expected to pay upfront for their fishing equipment, fishing license, and food. These costs can also be taken out of the greenhorn’s share of the haul. 

How Much Do Greenhorns in Deadliest Catch Make?

If you’re a fan of The Deadliest Catch, you already know that the show’s captains and their fishing crews earn a lot of money.

The show’s former captains, Kenny, and Gary Ripka explained that ship captains can make a lot of money during one season. They also said that how much greenhorns and other crew members get paid varies year to year, depending on the size of the catch and not on a salary.

Depending on a lot of different factors, greenhorns in Deadly Catch can make between $75,000 and $135,000 in four months. This is before the cost of food, fishing equipment, license, and any other expenses are deducted from Greenhorn’s salary. 

Why Are Rookies Called Greenhorns in Deadliest Catch? 

As mentioned previously, the term greenhorn describes a novice or a person without any previous experience in a given activity. Keeping that in mind, it comes as no surprise that this term is used to describe rookies in The Deadliest Catch. 

Being a greenhorn is extremely dangerous and grueling, requiring extreme physical and mental strength. But, the prospect of a good catch and lucrative salary make the greenhorn position interesting and sought after by a lot of people.

Greenhorn Salary Estimates

How much Greenhorns earn depends on a lot of variables. It’s hard to estimate a salary when there are no guarantees that a crab boat will return to port empty-handed or with a record crab haul.

Taking into account various greenhorn salary examples, we can estimate that greenhorns earn from $20,000 to $50,000 per season. Greenhorns working on a percentage can expect their salary to be 8% of the value of the entire crab boat catch.


It’s hard to say for sure how much greenhorns make while crab fishing. The greenhorn salary most often depends on the size of the crab boat catch and varies year to year. 

Although greenhorns and crews on The Deadliest Catch haul massive catches and earn huge amounts of money, that isn’t always the case. Most greenhorns earn between $20,000 and $50,000 per season and have to pay for food, dishing license, gear, and travel expenses.