It's seasonal work, which while not reliable, still has been around. Banks like history - they can use it to determine risk. If you've been a captain for 35 years doing crab fishing all that time, they can look back and see how well you've done and extrapolate from that. Just like banks do now with regular loans - they look at your employment history and determine how the loan will affect your finances. In addition, they have collateral - the boat. The TV contract is only for a season - and unless the loan is short term, will most likely not make an ounce of difference - who cares that you have extra income this year when the loan is over 10 years? Someone like Elliot who has little history is basically getting a loan for what the bank thinks the boat is worth. The TV contract may come into play to allow the bank to loan them some more startup money with the expectation that it's to be repaid quickly (within a couple of years). Crab fishing is unreliable, but obviously enough people make a profit at it that it's steady work. And yes, during lean times, stress is very high - though the bank normally will allow some leeway (they'd rather get the money back as cash even though it takes longer, than to have to foreclose and sell the boat which may only bring in pennies on the dollar). Even if you have a standard salaried job in the CONUS is no guarantee - you can buy a nice house on a mortgage with the bank assuming you'd continue at your job. Of course, everyone knows you can be laid off tomorrow or decide to change jobs, or whatever. So the bank looks at your history (usually summarized in your credit history) and uses it to figure out how good you are on the loan. And sometimes banks lose out. Like say during the 2008 financial crisis where foreclosures reached records and they were getting back houses worth far less than the amount owed.