S.C. Sea Grant Consortium
Csap Logo Seal

The South Carolina Commercial Seafood
Apprenticeship Program

CSAP is a one-month, paid job training program in McClellanville, South Carolina. The training begins mid-April, 2024.

About CSAP

The program offers classroom-based and on-the-job training that provides the knowledge and skills needed to start a career in commercial fishing or mariculture (e.g. growing oysters or clams). After the month-long training is complete, participants will get help finding a full-time job with a local company.

The program topics include safety training, seamanship, and navigation; boat and gear operation and maintenance; fisheries science, management and engagement; and seafood business and marketing. As part of the program, trainees will get 2 days at sea to gain hands-on experience with commercial fishing and mariculture.

The South Carolina Commercial Seafood Apprenticeship Program is designed in partnership with Clemson University, and offered by the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium in collaboration with commercial fishing operations and mariculture growers in McClellanville, South Carolina.

Mariculture worker holds up an oyster cage while smiling at another worker.

Who Can Apply?

You can apply for the Commercial Seafood Apprenticeship Program if you meet the following criteria:


Age 18+


Have a drivers license and reliable form of transportation


Can pass background check and drug test


Are willing to commit to the full month-long program


Most importantly, interested in making a career in commercial fishing and/or mariculture

A commercial fisher working on a boat.

What Do You Get?


A month-long training program (Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm)


Housing during the training


Daily one hour lunch break with $15 stipend


On-the-job at-sea hands on training split between commercial fishing and mariculture


All course materials and needed safety gear (boots, weather gear, gloves)


CPR, First Aid, and AED certification; a U.S. Coast Guard Drill Conductor certification; commercial fishing license; and a certificate of completion from S.C. Sea Grant Consortium


Upon full completion of month-long course, you will receive a $1,000 stipend ​and help finding a job at a McClellanville, S.C. commercial fishing or mariculture business

Is This Right for You?

Commercial fishing and mariculture are unique and rewarding careers. However, it is not for everyone. This line of work may be a good fit for you if you:


Do not get seasick or motion sick


Have been on the water with seas greater than 3 feet


Have worked hard, physical jobs


Have experience being on boats


Are able to work outside in bad weather


Enjoy being part of a team


Can lift at least 50lbs


Are dependable and have a reliable vehicle


Have a driver’s license


Do not have any injuries or physical issues that would make this job hard or dangerous


Do not mind if your schedule changes or you have to work odd/long hours


Are okay with being away from home/land for extended periods of time


Do not mind getting dirty and smelling of fish and rancid smells


Are financially responsible and able to make sure your taxes get filed


Are comfortable getting your own health insurance coverage

Oyster cages in a tisal creek.

​Frequently Asked Questions

What is the schedule like for the program?

The training takes place during the last half of April into the first half of May. Training takes place Monday through Friday from about 9-5 pm. Participants get a daily one-hour lunch break and some lunch money.

What topics will be covered in the training?

Topics that are covered in the program include safety at sea, CPR and first aid, seamanship and navigation, net mending, knot tying, species identification, diesel engine mechanics, and gear types and design. Apprentices also gain introductory knowledge about fisheries science, fisheries management and regulations, how to engage with resource managers, and fishing business and marketing. These lessons will be a combination of both classroom-based learning and hands-on learning.

What happens after the training?

After full completion of the program, we do our best to match participants with a local commercial fishing company or grower based on their preferred type of fishing, personality, and schedule.

Where does the training take place?

The training takes place in McClellanville, South Carolina.

How much does this training cost?

This apprenticeship program is free to participants and is fully funded through federal grant assistance. Through the program, all participants are provided with boots, gloves, weather gear, knives, and all training materials. Participants also receive a stipend of $1,000 contingent upon full completion of the program. Full completion is defined as completing all required classroom and at-sea learning, and receiving approval from the Program Coordinator and fishermen mentor(s).

Is housing provided during the training?

Yes! You will be offered free housing the the Baruch Institute for Marine & Coastal Sciences Dormitory, approximately 30 miles from the training program location. Thus, reliable transportation is necessary for program attendance.

Does the training include time at sea on a fishing vessel?

Yes, during the training participants will experience at least 2 at-sea training days.

How much does a fisher or a mariculturist make in a year on average?

A fisher’s income is dependent upon a number of factors including what type of fishing you are doing, the individual boat you are on, how much fish you catch, how often you fish, and how hard you work. Crew members are compensated based on a share or percentage of the proceeds of the harvest sale value after fuel, groceries, and gear expenses.

A mariculturist’s income is dependent on the position held at an operation (whether entry-level, manager, or owner), the scale of an operation or production level, the species being produced, and how much of the year species may be harvested. Employees are typically paid based on hourly wage. As entry-level workers gain experience and build skills, there are frequent opportunities to be promoted into manager positions, or to engage in cooperative resource sharing.

Will I get a degree or certificate?

Through the apprenticeship training, participants receive a CPR, First Aid, & AED certification, a U.S. Coast Guard Drill Conductor certification, a commercial fishing license, and a certificate of completion from S.C. Sea Grant for those that complete the training.

CSAP Funding

This program is being funded by the NOAA National Sea Grant Office and the USDA Rural Business Development Grant Program.

National Sea Grant
Usda Rural Development