Marine Mammal Training Programs and Schools: How to Choose

Associate and bachelor's programs in biology, marine biology and aquarium science are offered at many colleges and universities. Because marine mammal training is a competitive job market, students interested in this line of work likely will need a degree plus internship experience.

Aspiring marine mammal trainers might pursue a degree in marine biology or aquarium science. Marine biology programs involve the study of aquatic organisms, while aquarium science programs teach students how to maintain populations housed in aquariums.

Schools with Marine Mammal Training Programs

These schools offer biology and aquarium science programs, in addition to opportunities for field research and hands-on learning with marine mammals.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
Moorpark College Moorpark, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate $1,388 in-state, $7,050 out-of-state
Florida Keys Community College Key West, FL 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate $3,276 in-state, $10,726 out-of-state
Davidson County Community College Thomasville, NC 2-year, Public Associate $2,460 in-state, $8,604 out-of-state
Oregon Coast Community College Newport, OR 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate $3,816 in-state, $7,956 out-of-state
University of West Florida Pensacola, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $6,360 in-state, $19,241 out-of-state
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $4,831 in-state, $17,276 out-of-state
University of Alaska Southeast Juneau, AK 4-year, Public Bachelor's $6,132 in-state, $17,306 out-of-state
University of Hawai'i-Manoa Honolulu, HI 4-year, Public Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's $11,164 in-state, $31,216 out-of-state
University of New England Biddeford, ME 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $34,760

Sources: *School websites and National Center for Educational Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in marine mammal training programs and schools may want to keep these considerations in mind when selecting their program:

  • School-sponsored internships at aquariums and marine mammal parks can provide real-world experience for students.
  • Programs with on-campus facilities relevant to marine science help students gain experience working with marine mammals in a confined environment, some programs have expedition vessels as well.
  • Students should look for a school whose graduates have a high rate of finding jobs in the field.
  • Programs with a small student-to-professor ratio may ensure a more personal approach to learning than is possible at larger universities.

Associate's Programs in Biology and Aquarium Science

In general, these programs require a sequence in biology, plus foundation courses in other sciences. Some schools give students the option of earning an advanced certificate after graduation by completing a cooperative internship.

Bachelor's Programs in Marine Biology and Aquarium Science

Students in aquarium science typically complete business and finance courses, while those in marine biology curricula might take classes in chemistry and physics, with advanced elective topics in animal nutrition and behavior.

Marine mammal training programs can provide students with hands-on experience in animal care, and there are also internship opportunities at aquariums and marine mammal parks. Students should also consider programs with small student-to-professor ratios and high graduate job placement.

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