I’m currently watching the latest series of the Deadliest Catch, plus watching some of the older episodes I missed out on the first time around. It’s such a dangerous job, with gruelling work involved that I thought the captains must get paid a really decent wage.
I couldn’t find any accurate information online in just one place, so researched myself to find out how much captains on the Deadliest Catch make. Here’s what I found:
According to available job and employment statistics, captains on the Deadliest Catch make more than $200,000 dollars a year as a crab boat captain. But that figure does not include TV appearance fees, endorsements, and promotions which come off the back of appearing on a successful Nat Geo TV series.
How much do captains on the Deadliest Catch earn?
So, as you can see, the only publicly available figures available on wages and salary are relating to what a crab boat captain could earn during the crab fishing season.
If you take that figure as being around $200,000 US dollars as a start point, you’re probably only half way there for the most successful of the captains.
Why do I say that?
How captains on Deadliest Catch can increase their salary
Well, the most successful skippers from the Deadliest Catch have gone on to appear in spin-off TV series, have been paid for public appearances, and have also received endorsements and sponsorships due to the high public profiles they have developed off the back off being (semi) famous.
I would hazard a guess that captains who win a season or create good TV will not only get asked to come back for the next season, but will also make plenty of media appearances.
Whilst it’s not possible to get solid information on how much they might get paid per episode for appearing, I have found anecdotal evidence online that it could be between $10,000 and $100,000 for a show.
As you can see, it could be a highly lucrative profession if you manage to snag yourself a place on the seasonal roster.
Some crab catches can net more than $2 million dollars
Whilst researching the Deadliest Catch captain salaries, I stumbled across an article on the Fox News website which had some insane information in it regarding skipper earnings.
It had an interview with Jake Anderson, the captain of the Saga boat. He was quoted as saying this about his season’s earnings in 2018.
“You’ve watched the American Dream unfold through me. There I was, a bum on the street, and now 14 years later I’m managing a multi-million dollar company. I think I grossed $2.5 million in 11 days.”
The Fox interviewer went on to say that a crab fishing boat could catch up to $2 million dollars worth of crab in just a couple of days.
However, you need to place a caveat on that, as that figure isn’t what the Deadliest Catch captain will make himself personally, just the monetary value placed on the king crabs caught. He will still need to pay for crew wages, fuel, gear, licenses, insurances and the boat itself.
The net worth of the Deadliest Catch captains
I also took a look to see if I could find out what the net worth of some of the more popular captains were. I found a celebrity net worth website which detailed the following earnings.
- Sig Hansen (captain of The Northwestern) – net worth: $3 million
- Johnathan Hillstrand (captain of Time Bandit) – net worth: $2.2 million
- Andy Hillstrand (captain of Time Bandit) – net worth: $1.5 million
- Keith Colburn (captain of Wizard) – net worth: $1.5 million
- “Wild” Bill Wichrowski (captain of Cape Caution) – net worth: $3 million
- Elliot Neese (captain of The Saga) – net worth: $500 thousand
- Scott Campbell Jr (captain of Seabrooke) – net worth: $600 thousand
- Brad Peterfish (captain of Seabrooke) – net worth: $500 thousand
- Josh Harris (captain of Cornelia Marie) – net worth: $800 thousand
- Edgar Hansen (captain of The Northwestern) – net worth: $700 thousand
Check out the video below where a captain goes into a little bit of detail about how much they could earn crab fishing.
How much do captains have to earn to go crab fishing?
However, don’t let the money that captains make on the Deadliest Catch blind you into thinking it’s an easy way to make cash.
For example, the crab boats alone can run into 6 figures. In fact, I put together some additional research into how much crab boats cost which will probably come as a surprise to you!
Those numbers don’t even include everything a successful crab boat captain will need to make a success of his crew. They will also need to pay for:
- Licenses and crab fishing permits.
- Insurances and fuel.
- Training and certification.
- Crew and deckhand wages (see how much a deckhand earns).
And much more that a viewer such as you and I have no idea about!
The last word…
Most people don’t like to talk about how much the earn. It’s seen to be vulgar and boastful, and despite the big characters in the Deadliest Catch, it appears they are just like us.
Why do I say that?
Well, I read as many interviews as I could with skippers from the National Geographic show, and was unable to find any captains from the Deadliest Catch saying how much the earn.
I get that, it’s private after all.
However, using some baseline numbers from job websites such as the Alaska Fishing Employment Center, it is possible to make some estimates on how much a Deadliest Catch captains salary could be.
That’s how I came up with the projected earnings in this research, but take it with a pinch of salt, as it doesn’t take into account payments from Nat Geo, or subsequent earnings off the back of the fame.
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