Alaska Salmon Processing Jobs

Salmon processing jobs are available in Alaska between May and September. The timing of the salmon fisheries creates substantial summer job opportunities for college students.

If you work in a salmon processing plant – onshore or offshore – some of the equipment described below will probably be used. It’s good to know the terminology and the ‘processing process’ before applying for jobs.

Types of Salmon Processing Plant Jobs

Iron chink machine: These are machines (some dating from the 1930s) designed to cut the head, tail, and fins from the fish. Also, the machine crudely guts the fish and separates out egg sacs. Up to two people are responsible for feeding fish into this amazing machine (not every cannery will have the same type of machine). Unlike fresh frozen facilities which process many species of salmon, canneries typically process only pink (humpy) and sockeye (red) salmon. This machine is also less offensively called the Smith Butchering Machine.

Slime table :After the iron chink, fish go directly to the slimers who clean out remaining guts, wash, and grade the fish. From here, the fish are fed into the filler machine which fills cans with fish.

Patch cutter: Oversized and undersized fish are sorted out and sent to the patch cutting table. Here fish are cut into small pieces that will be used to bring cans up to a certain weight.

Filler : This is a machine that basically slices and dices fish to fill the cans. Usually, one or two people work here to feed the fish into it properly and make sure it comes out without any problems.

Patching table: Underweight cans go to the patching table where workers take individually cut pieces of fish and place them in the cans. After the cans are filled, they are sent back to the can line and fitted with lids.

Cooking (retorts) : After lids are put onto cans, they end up in large metal rolling bins. Many workers see to the proper loading and transfer of these bins into retort cookers. These cookers hold the bins for approximately 70-90 minutes (depending on the size of the cans). Working in the retort oven rooms can be hot, but you do stay dry.

End of line: This is a separate crew in charge of removing bins full of cooked cans from the retorts and wheeling them into a cooling area.

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