How to Pursue a Career as an Aquarist
Did you know that over 17,000 species live in the sea? If you’re fascinated by marine life, then working as an aquarist might be the perfect career for you.
If you’re wondering how to become an aquarist, we’ve put together a complete guide on starting and completing your career. Read on to learn about what it takes to become a successful aquarist.
What Does an Aquarist Do?
If you have a passion for animals and enjoy the water, a career as an aquarist might be the perfect role to explore your skills and interests. Aquarists spend their hours interacting with the animals and making sure that their home is safe and comfortable.
This is a unique career that’s highly enjoyed by those who pursue it. Wondering what your day-to-day life might look like as an aquarist? Read on to learn about the many essential tasks of the job.
Caring for Marine Life
As an aquarist, one of your top priorities would be taking care of the health and wellness of the marine animals. This might involve feeding them every day or planning out a special diet for certain creatures.
Your knowledge of marine life will come in handy because you’ll need to know what each fish and animal needs to help them be happy. If a fish is sick, it could become your job to monitor and treat its illness.
Like other animals in a zoo, the aquatic animals need love and attention to live happy lives. Sometimes this requires mental stimulation with toys or challenges.
As an aquarist, it’s your job to care for, feed, and monitor all aspects of marine life. You’ll spend time both inside and outside the water. This is why aquarists need to enjoy being in the water to interact with the creatures directly.
Maintaining the Environment
An essential part of caring for aquatic animals is maintaining a clean and safe environment. This includes not only the tank but all of the natural elements inside it.
Animals living in a shared body of water need extra attention to survive. Because they may all eat, drink, and eliminate waste in the same water, aquarists must be careful in monitoring the water levels.
Water quality testing is essential for fish, coral, and any animal that makes its home in an aquarium. As an aquarist, you would have to check the water for things like pH levels, temperature, ammonia, and nitrates.
Part of this process would be checking to make sure that all pumps and filters are working properly. A reef tank clean up crew will spend time cleaning the aquarium tank and removing any algae.
When you work as an aquarist, you’ll be a part of a team that works together to ensure all aspects of the aquatics area are in good working order. You’ll be sharing your passion for sea life and have fun doing something different every day.
How to Become an Aquarist in the US
Think this career sounds like something you’d enjoy? Becoming an aquarist means you’ll get the chance to nurture sea life and learn about the science behind aquariums.
If you’re wondering how to become an aquarist, here are some steps you’ll need to take. This career requires essential knowledge and experience related to sea life.
1. Earn a Bachelor of Science Degree
To understand the needs of aquatic animals, you’ll need to study marine biology, zoology, or aquaculture. Some aquarists also earn degrees in other related fields like environmental engineering or veterinary science.
In school, you’ll learn how to monitor water quality and provide medical care to animals. You’ll also learn about which species thrive together and which don’t.
This knowledge will help you understand how best to interact with the creatures in a tank. If you end up working for an expanding zoo, an aquarist degree will also give you the knowledge you need to design a healthy aquarium.
2. Get Scuba-Certified and CPR Certified
The next step to becoming an aquarist is getting scuba-certified and CPR certified. This is also a step that you can do while you’re working towards your BAS.
Many people who aren’t aquarists choose to get scuba-certified for vacations and fun outings. Because of this, it will be easy to find a place near you that offers courses for scuba certification.
The process of scuba certification involves three steps. First, you’ll learn the basic principles of scuba diving. Second, you’ll learn how to do confined water drives. Third, your scuba instructor will teach you how to do open water dives.
Earning your CPR certification is an important step to ensure your own safety and the safety of others in your field. Because you’ll be in and around water often, having this safety skill will be essential.
3. Gain Experience Through an Aquatics Internship
An essential part of studying to become an aquarist is gaining hands-on experience with sea life. To do this, you can sign up for an aquatics internship with a local zoo or aquarium.
Your school will likely have connections with local places that offer aquarist internships. Working at an aquarium will help get you on your way to becoming a professional aquarist.
4. Apply for Jobs in the Field
After graduation, you can search for aquarist jobs in many different places. This includes local zoos, aquariums, and even wildlife museums.
There are over 200 zoos and aquariums in the US. This means you’ll have many options to choose from while searching for an aquarist position.
Perhaps the most important part of gaining an aquarist job is to never stop learning. An aquarist salary will vary depending on your level of education and certification, so once you’re hired, continue to gain certifications that will expand your knowledge. You can even join aquarist societies and organizations that will help you further your career.
A Career You’ll Love
You can put your passion for marine wildlife to good use by working as a professional aquarist. This fun and challenging career will help you grow your expertise while caring for the natural world.
Need help growing your career? Check out our guide on advancing your career through continued education.