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Salary– $3,293.82 – $4,285.62 Monthly

Operates research vessels while monitoring Puget Sound salmon fisheries and other WDFW on-water surveys. Tasks include: 

  • Safely transports and transfers agency staff (boat-to-boat transfers) to various commercial fishing vessels (purse seine and gill net vessels) while they are fishing in the marine waters of Puget Sound.
  • Ensures the safety of the observers at sea.
  • Follows all agency rules, safety procedures, and policies on operation of vessels at sea, including monitoring weather forecasts and conditions and making decisions on the water regarding safety of crew.
  • Leads and assists in the coordination of daily in-field monitoring of commercial fisheries for the vessel they are operating, which includes determining sampling effort (vessel counts) and following logistics plans for monitoring landed catch, coordinating with observers and commercial fishing vessel captains, maintaining contact with observers, and tracking the location of the commercial fishing vessel they are on.
  • Accurately records and reports commercial fishing effort to the supervisor and fishery managers throughout the day.
  • Maintains contact with the supervisor throughout the day to provide updates on commercial effort, observed harvest, and other information as required for daily in-season management of Puget Sound commercial salmon fisheries.
  • Interacts professionally with commercial fishing crews and captains.
  • Boards commercial fishing vessels, enumerates catch and by-catch, identifies salmon and other marine fish to species.
  • Trailers, launches, and stores vessels during the commercial fishing season.

Conducts vessel maintenance. Tasks include: 

  • Organizes and schedules in-season maintenance/shop time for research vessels.
  • Transports (over water or tows) research vessels to shop locations.
  • Conducts vessel maintenance as needed, including oil changes, equipment installation, basic repair, and winterizing and de-winterizing vessels.
  • Ensures vehicles, vessels, and motors are stored properly at end of sampling
  • Day.
  • Alerts supervisor to any issues or maintenance needed on vessels and/or trucks.

Performs data collection, data analysis, survey, and sample design. Tasks include: 

  • Assists in the development of any new sampling protocols, data collection methodology, and survey procedures.
  • Conducts archival data analysis, collects environmental, geospatial, and salmon data, and manage corresponding relational
  • databases.
  • Provides assistance to other members of the Intergovernmental Salmon Management unit with data input and manipulation for fisheries research science.
  • Assists in the development of the virtual ‘Fish Friendly’ certification.


  • Work Setting, including hazards:   
    1. Work is primarily conducted outside in various weather conditions on the Puget Sound. Long hours on the research boat require the boat operator to remain alert and adaptable to changing schedules.
    2. Work includes repetitive movement of hands and fingers, working on potentially slippery surfaces, exposure to rough seas, rain and wind, extreme temperatures, launching and recovering research boats from slippery launches and docks.
    3. When not in the field, primary work setting will be office-based, with the potential for telework.
  • Schedule:   
    1. Schedule is intermittent, 7 days per week, 12 plus hours per day plus travel hours.
  • Travel Requirements: 
    1. Travel to and from duty station to the location of the research boat. Travel often occurs early in the morning and late at night. Overnight stays are required when sampling the fishing fleet in certain areas.
    2. Travel may require the use of personally owned vehicle with mileage reimbursement.
  • Tools and Equipment: 
    1. Depth-sounder, radar, GPS plotter, datasheets, thumb counters, coded-wire tag (CWT) wands, forceps, isopropyl alcohol, office equipment, raingear, personal floatation devices (PFD’s), and boots.
  • Customer Interactions:
    1. Interacts with commercial fisherman including vessel captains and crews.


Closely related qualifying experience may be substituted for the required education on a year-by-year basis.

  • Graduation from high school or GED, including one (1) year of high school science AND four (4) years of experience as a Scientific Technician.


  • Graduation from high school or GED, including one (1) year of high school science AND four (4) years of laboratory or field experience as an assistant to a health or safety professional, biologist, chemist, or zoologist.

Please Note: College course work involving major study in biology, zoology, fisheries, chemistry, natural sciences, or closely allied field will substitute, year for year, for experience, provided the course work includes at least six semester or nine quarter hours of natural or environmental science classes.


  • Valid Driver’s License.
  • CPR/First Aid Certification (can be obtained within 30 days of hire).


  • Bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology, biological science, zoology, ecology, or a closely related field.
  • Merchant Marine Credential/ USCG Masters >25Gt upon Inland/Near Coastal waters.
  • Expert-level vessel handling, knowledge of marine navigation and boating safety regulations, and proficient in use of typical marine electronics (e.g. GPS, depth finder, radar, radio, plotter).


  • Sampling fisheries and/or conducting scientific sampling.
  • Supervising or leading scientific technicians in the field.
  • Accurately recording scientific or other critical information.

Ability to:

  • Safely operate research vessels. This includes at sea vessel-vessel transfers, docking, close quarters maneuvering, trailering, and launching.
  • Clearly and effectively communicate with agency staff and commercial fishers.
  • Adapt to and remain flexible in a fast-paced work environment while still maintaining a professional demeanor.
  • Collect and synthesize a variety of fishery-dependent and independent data used in fish management.
  • Help organize and schedule field work, staff trainings, and research studies.

Knowledge of: 

  • Methods and practices of fisheries and biological research.
  • Knowledge of the principles and procedures of fish management.


As a result of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Proclamation 21-14 (Download PDF reader) issued on August 9, 2021, all Washington State Agencies are requiring employees to be fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of your employment. Pursuant to this mandate, you will be required to provide proof of vaccination as a part of the hiring process. Please do not upload your vaccination documentation with your application materials – your vaccination status will be verified by your supervisor prior to your first day of work. Exemptions may be granted for religious or medical purposes.

A list of acceptable documents to provide verification can be reviewed here. Vaccination acceptable documents link (Download PDF reader) (Download PDF reader)

In order to successfully apply for this position, you MUST complete your profile at and attach the following to your profile before completing the online application:

  • A cover letter describing how you meet the qualifications of this position (Generic cover letter will not be accepted).
  • A current resume. 
  • Three professional references. 


The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s priority during the Covid-19 health crisis is to keep our staff, candidates, and the public safe.  We are hiring and encourage you to apply to open positions. We have transitioned to a virtual recruitment process, to include web-based interviews.

All new employees must complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9 Form) on their first day of work. If hired for this or any position at WDFW, you will be required to provide documentation proving you are eligible to work in the United States. For a list of acceptable documents, please use the following link: