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Tips For Surviving Summer Salmon Processing Jobs in Alaska

The Alaska fishing industry is in full swing during the summer, between mid-May and mid-September. Workers come from all around the world for a chance to experience Alaska in a new way. The pay is good and the sights are breathtaking.

Salmon are the target during the summer in Alaska. There are five types of salmon that are native to Alaskan waters: Coho, Sockeye, Pink, Chum, and Chinook. The first run of the season begins on Copper River in the Southeast fishing region. Fishing boat deckhands gear up for this fishery in May and the onshore processing plants get their first infusion of fish to process.

Summer workers have the option of working onshore or offshore. Most workers begin their summer of fun in fishing on the processing side of the business. There are onshore processing plants which are located near waters where the fish are caught. Workers can opt to try their hand on a floating processor, too, which processes fish from an anchored spot in a sheltered harbor close to shore.

The life of a salmon worker is not easy but can be survived by following a few tips. First, know the region where you'll be working. There are locations in Alaska that have mild climates in the summer. There is sun and the temperatures are moderate. On the flip side, there are places like Juneau or Ketchikan, where it is rainy nearly all the time.

Seeing nothing but clouds day in and day out can become a bit depressing. You may long for home more than you do the adventure and mystery of the Alaskan frontier. Don't work in Southeast Alaska if clouds and precipitation are more than you can handle!

Wear the appropriate clothing. Most fisheries workers are either on the slime line, in the egg house, or on the docks. Hauling and cleaning fish is always messy, wet work. Wearing clothing like sweaters, rain gear, and waterproof boots is a must every day. The last thing you want to do is show up without the proper clothing. Some companies may provide the proper wear but others may not. Ask potential employers what is expected of you on that front.

You will not be alone. There are always lots of first-time Alaska fishery workers: college students, recent graduates, out-of-work professionals, and adventurous types all find their way to Alaska for summer jobs. Here is an opportunity to make new friends and learn something about someone else. Workers return each year to see old friends and learn new job positions.

Bring a bicycle if you can. Even if the plant is five miles out of town, that is a long walk especially after a hard day at work. Maximize free time by peddling into town for dinner or a movie. Buying a small car when you get there can get you around if the area where you are staying is not close to anything you want to see. The car can always be sold before you leave to go home.