Maine is the largest lobster-producing state in the nation, according to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, with more than 6,300 employed in the industry. Lobster fishermen work in coastal states, catching lobsters in traps near shore or on boats in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans -- and in the Gulf of Mexico. If you want to become a lobster fisherman, you'd likely start as a lobster catcher, earning a salary averaging nearly $50,000 annually.
Salary and Qualifications
The average annual salary of a lobster fisherman was $48,000 as of 2013, according to the job site Simply Hired. You don't need any special education to become a lobster fisherman, but you can take courses in a technical or vocational school. These courses may increase your chances of getting a job. Most lobster fishermen must have either permits or licenses, depending on state requirements. Other key qualifications for this job include physical strength and stamina and critical-thinking, analytical, decision-making and machine operation skills.
Salary by State
In 2013, average salaries for lobster fishermen varied somewhat within the U.S. coastal regions. In the Northeast, they earned the highest salaries of $58,000 in Massachusetts and lowest of $43,000 in Maine. Those in the West made $47,000 to $54,000 per year -- with the lowest incomes in Hawaii and highest in California. If you worked in the South, you'd earn the most in Georgia and the least in Mississippi at $46,000 and $37,000, respectively.
A lobster fisherman can earn more in certain industries. For example, fishers and related fishing workers earned the highest salaries of $43,740 working for the federal government, according to May 2012 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also earned relatively high salaries of $39,810 in the seafood product preparation and packaging industry -- versus the industry average of $39,900 for all fishers and related fishing workers. You may also earn more as a lobster fisherman if you work for the federal government or a seafood packing company. Your salary would also be higher in Massachusetts and New York, because living costs are higher in these two states. If you earned $50,000 in Corpus Christi, Texas, you'd need to make $76,618 in Boston to maintain your living standard, according to CNN Money's cost of living calculator. In San Francisco, you'd have to earn $90,792 for the same reason -- or about 81 percent more.
The BLS only projects a 6-percent increase in jobs for fishers and related fishing workers, including lobster fishermen, through 2020, slower than the 14-percent growth rate for all occupations. Improved technology of fishing equipment enables these fishermen to catch more fish per day, which can have a negative impact on jobs. You may also find fewer jobs in this field because of federal fishing regulations. Rising seafood imports, which provide cheaper options for retailers, wholesalers and consumers, may also hinder domestic job growth in the lobster fishing industry.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become a Fisher or Related Fishing Worker
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fishers and Relating Fishing Workers: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Fishers and Related Fishing Workers
- ONET Online: Summary Report for: Fishers and Related Fishing Workers
- CNN Money: Lobstering: A Tough Business Booms
- Simply Hired: Average Lobster Fishing Salaries
- CNN Money: Cost of Living: How Far Will My Salary Go In another City?
- Simply Hired: Average Lobster Fishing Salaries in ME, NH, MA and Ny
- Simply Hired: Average Lobster Fishing Salaries in MS, LA, AL and TX
- Gulf of Maine Research Institute: Lobstering History
- Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images