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Aquaculture Career Options and Education Requirements

Education programs in aquaculture can lead to many different career paths ranging from farming to scientific research. Continue reading for an overview of the educational requirements as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Individuals who want to work in the field of aquaculture can choose between technician, management and scientist positions. The educational requirements, expected salary and job outlook for these workers varies by job title.

Essential Information

Aquaculture involves the farming of fish, crustaceans, and aquatic plants for recreation or consumption. Associate through doctoral degree programs related to aquaculture can be found at many colleges and universities. Undergraduate programs cover topics in fish spawning, hatchery maintenance, aquatic plants, fish diseases, aquatic ecosystems, fish nutrition and water quality monitoring. Students in master's and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in aquaculture and fisheries can choose concentrations that fit with their research or career interests, such as fish nutrition, water quality, aquaculture engineering, fish genetics, hatchery production and fish pathology.

Careers Biological Technician Aquaculture Manager Wildlife Biologist
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree (in biology or related field) Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree (in zoology, wildlife biology, or related field)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% -2% (for all farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers) 4% (for zoologists and wildlife biologists)
Median Salary (2015)* $41,650 $64,170 (for all farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers) $59,680 (for zoologists and wildlife biologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Careers for aquaculturists are available with a variety of employers, including state and federal government agencies, academic institutions and fish farms. Some aquaculture careers, such as aquaculture farming, only require a high school diploma and on-the-job training. However, an increasing number of employers in this industry prefer job candidates with some postsecondary education. Certain aquaculture careers, including high-level management and government positions, require a graduate-level education.

Biological Technician

Biological technicians work in a laboratory setting and conduct experiments as part of a research team. They may gather and prepare test materials and document the results of scientific experiments for analysis.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biological technicians earned a median salary of $41,650 in 2015. This career could also expect a 5% growth rate between 2014 and 2024.

Aquaculture Manager

Aquaculture managers oversee work environments, such as fish hatcheries. They train and supervise the support workers in aquaculture procedures as well as maintain the growing environment of the fish and other aquatic life. They also monitor the commercial aspect of the hatchery, keeping track of funds and where the fish stock is released.

The BLS reported that farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers, which includes aquaculture managers, earned an annual median salary of $64,170 as of May 2015 and could expect a 2% decline in the 2014 to 2024 decade.

Wildlife Biologist

Zoologists and wildlife biologists study wildlife in their natural environment or in controlled research settings. They may also conduct experiments to learn about the behaviors and health of wildlife in certain environments to learn about the effect of human influence.

The BLS projected that in the period between 2014 and 2024, zoologists and wildlife biologists could expect a growth rate of 4%. In 2015, zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a median salary of $59,680.

There are several different career options available within the aquaculture industry. An undergraduate degree is the minimum educational requirement, but a graduate degree can improve job prospects or lead to career advancement.

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