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Aquaculture: The Perfect Summer Job in Alaska

CIAA offers work to seasonal employees in Alaska where they can gain valuable career experience and form lifetime friendships.

by | March 18, 2024

Summer job in Alaska: Downtime at a CIAA field camp
Downtime at any field camp can be filled with a friendly game of cards and a few jokes. Emily Heale

As winter gives way to spring, students from across the “Lower 48” and Alaska begin thinking of how to earn money in seasonal jobs over the summer. A season in Alaska sounds romantic, and there are plenty of places online that can help connect you with employment. Canneries, fishing boats, lodges, tour companies, and lots of other industries sell the romance of a perfect summer job in Alaska.

Are any of these for real? Some are. Places like the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA) proudly offer opportunities for students to experience life on the frontier and contribute to the health of our commercial salmon industry.

Alaska Seasonal Jobs at CIAA

Fun fishing competitions can turn competitive quickly.
Fun fishing competitions can turn competitive quickly. Andy Wizik

Once the ice breaks up, and streams begin to flow again, the hard work begins. CIAA hires its summer crews, books transportation, and then the field work begins. 

You could be on a crew that is releasing juvenile pink salmon into Tutka Bay or that works tirelessly monitoring the health of juvenile sockeye salmon as they are transported by land, air, and water from our Trail Lakes Hatchery for release. You could also fly out to a remote lake soon after ice out to install a weir in order to count juvenile salmon and to harvest their archnemesis in Southcentral Alaska, invasive northern pike. 

Some of our seasonal workers diligently maintain a weir on the road system counting multiple salmon species while meeting members of the public every day. These kinds of jobs can help expand your knowledge of salmon monitoring and fisheries enhancement in the state.

A Lifetime Bond

Who gets to do the dishes may come down to feats of strength.
Who gets to do the dishes may come down to feats of strength. Emily Heale

No matter which crew you find yourself on there is fun to be had in the grind that is fisheries work. Crews bond over work that takes them into the wee hours of the morning counting juvenile salmon before the sun even has time to rise. Hatchery workers will connect over a grueling egg take process as they share a meal in the shared kitchen. Fisheries technicians that find themselves at a remote lake will discover how welcoming folks who live in the bush are when they accept a dinner and shower invite from a friendly lake resident.

All crews share the unique challenges and rewards that come with each position. There will be competitions of who can catch the most invasive northern pike in a day and who makes the best after dinner dessert sans oven. 

There will be a lot of comparisons about the best way to tie a fly or who has the most effective rain gear and the snazziest sunglasses. Be warned in addition to the skills that you will learn and lessons you will take away from a seasonal fisheries position, lasting friendships are the cherry on top of the fisheries cake.

Other Opportunities

CIAA is not the only organization with unique opportunities—although I am partial to it. 

A lot of the agencies and organizations we work alongside are also hiring for the upcoming field season and even a few year-round positions as well. Here are some of them:

  • The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has exciting fisheries opportunities to offer state residents. 
  • The Homer Soil and Water Conservation District is hiring for their invasive species program. 
  • Tyonek Tribal Conservation District is looking to fill for a few different seasonal positions and a couple year-round ones as well. 

The bottom line is if you are not afraid of rolling up your sleeves and getting to work there is ample opportunity, so brush off your resume and get ready for a fun filled summer in whatever part of Alaska you decide.

Looking for Opportunities

Keep an eye on the CIAA employment page to see what’s available. If you see a position you’d like to apply for, you can use our handy online job application form to send us your details.

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