Aquaculture is a field to look into if you have a background in biology and an interest in marine science, farming or the food industry. Aquaculture technicians normally need to complete a training program or certificate in aquatic biology that will qualify them to raise fish to sell as food or pets, or to repopulate bodies of water. They can grow plants as well, and often work with other people in the industry to make decisions about how to grow or sell products.
Aquaculture technicians raise fish and marine plants for food and recreational purposes. Due to habitat destruction and overfishing, aquaculture has become a necessary segment of the agriculture industry. A high school diploma or the equivalent is typically required for this career, though completion of an aquaculture program or certificate may be beneficial.
|Required Education||High school diploma|
|Other Recommendations||Aquaculture training program; certificate program related to aquatic biology|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||-8% for broad category of farming, fishing and forestry workers|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$23,750 annually for farmworkers (including those who work with aquatic plants and animals)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description of an Aquaculture Technician
With backgrounds in marine or aquatic biology, aquaculture technicians can work for federal and state government agencies, commercial industry organizations, or universities. Within the government, these professionals help biologists with the duties of managing public lakes, rivers and recreational fishing areas, particularly during the busy fishing seasons. In commercial industry, technicians at private fish farms or hatcheries rear, process, and market fish for commercial sale to food suppliers and aquariums. In universities, they assist biologists and academic researchers to manage fish on campus and donated lands for research and educational purposes.
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Salary of an Aquaculture Technician
Because aquaculture technicians are considered part of the agriculture industry, their salaries are likely to be similar to those of farmworkers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), farmworkers, including those who worked with aquatic plants and animals, had a median annual wage of $23,750 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS showed that those employed by government agencies (federal, state, and local) made over the national average, ranging from more than $34,000 to over $45,000 per year.
Duties of an Aquaculture Technician
Aquaculture technicians study fish and shellfish rearing and husbandry techniques to determine the best ways to raise and keep fish. In addition to cultivating fish for food, they also provide care for fish that will be sold as pets. Aquaculture technicians' duties can include replenishing the depleted fish population in lakes and streams. They might work at aquariums, zoos, or water parks, feeding and caring for the fish. Technicians can also assist commercial aquaculture companies with business plans and economic forecasts.
Aside from fish, technicians might grow marine plants to be sold to zoos, aquariums, pet stores, and marine exhibits for display purposes or to enhance an aquatic environment. Marine plants might also be sold to health food companies, grocery stores, or pharmaceutical laboratories to serve as food, vitamin supplements, and medicines.
To recap, aquaculture technicians need to know how to grow marine animals and plants, and often sell these products to commercial markets for food, supplements, or for recreation purposes. They need knowledge of aquatic biology and business, which can be learned in a certificate program. These professionals can work for a private company, government agency, or even an academic institution.