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The quick and dirty guide to an Alaska summer job

It’s a well-know fact: Alaska summers are all about abundance — lots of sunshine, salmon, wildlife and — that’s right — work! If you’re looking for a solid seasonal job, Alaska has no shortage of summer work that actually pays.

It’s more than a job

Choosing to work in Alaska over the summer is not just about the money — it’s a personal journey, a conscious decision to leave the comforts and familiarity of life for solitude, rugged adventure and a chance to “find yourself.”

10 things to expect, roughly

  • jobs are abundant throughout the state, not just Anchorage and Fairbanks
  • pay is above average, minimum wage is $9.75
  • the people you meet are just as enterprising and adventurous as you
  • Alaska has no sales or state income tax!
  • Alaska has a daily overtime policy, which mean you get overtime for working over 8 hours in a day rather than 0ver 40 hours in a week
  • nearly-continuous sunshine means more workable hours in the day, so prepare yourself for overtime
  • mosquitos are absolutely insane
  • it helps to know someone “on the inside” before you start mass-applying to places
  • …but there are also places you walk in and get hired on the spot
  • YOU’RE IN ALASKA!!! Get out and enjoy 🙂

Types of jobs

Fishing boat deckhand

The work is grueling and rugged and risky, but you can make some serious moola if your boat hauls in a good catch. Just ask any student who has paid their way through college working on an Alaska fishing boat. (If you want extra grueling and rugged and risky, try a crabbing boat.)

Salmon cannery

Help process the millions of pounds of salmon and other fish that get caught each summer. You’re virtually guaranteed to make tons of cash, but be prepared for long, monotonous hours on your feet and the smell of salmon, which may linger long after you’ve gone home.

Cruise ship

Surely you know at least one person who has bragged about their Alaska cruise, or at least the one their parents went on? In other words — cruise lines are a booming industry in Alaska.

Unlike fishing or food service operations, cruises have a need for a wide variety of skilled and non-skilled labor, from hostess to massage therapist to engineer to lounge singer. Most cruises depart from Seattle or Vancouver, so the scenery is great no matter who you are on the boat.

Adventure guide

Are you into white water rafting? How about hunting or whale watching? Maybe you’re a first responder or an experienced mountaineer? If any of these apply, there’s likely a spot for you in the great outdoor adventure scene of Alaska. According to, “Nenana Raft Adventures offers employee housing (hot tub included!)…and estimate that employees who work an entire season average anywhere from $8,000-12,000 (pre-tax) with an addition $500 to $1,500 bonus…” Not bad!

Food service

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that Alaska’s restaurants get jam packed in the summers. The upside is you can hustle a 4-6 hour shift and walk out with $200 cash in hand, leaving you most of the day off to enjoy. The other great part about seasonal work is that it’s pretty easy to get hired on the spot with little more than a nice smile and a great attitude.

The ultimate perk? The food.

Hotels and lodges

Hotel work is pretty standard anywhere you go, but lodge work in Alaska is another kind of experience. Some lodges are small — as in 1-4 staff — which mean you may end up being a jack of all trades even though were hired as a front desk clerk. The greatest perk of all is that most lodges — especially the remote ones — include room and board with your employment package (some will even pay for your transportation to Alaska as well).

Other awesome Alaska jobs to consider

Alaska Railroad, tour buses, the National Park Service, firefighter, camp counselor, construction

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