Marine Animal Training Colleges and Schools: How to Choose

Colleges and schools with marine animal training programs offer a variety of educational opportunities, from individual courses and internships to degree and certificate programs. Considerations for selecting a school include course availability, opportunities for hands-on training and job placement history.

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Marine animal trainers are usually required to have a degree. Because very few programs exist that are specifically tailored for aspiring marine animal trainers, most students complete a degree in a field such as veterinary science, aquarium science, marine biology or animal behavior.

Schools for Marine Animal Training

These schools offer a variety of programs that include coursework related to training and caring for marine animals.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
Moorpark College Moorpark,CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's $1,388 in-state, $7,050 out-of-state
California State University-Monterey Bay Seaside, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's $6,119 in-state, $17,279 out-of-state
University of Miami Coral Gables, FL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's $34,248
Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $39,290
University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $12,763 in-state, $37,471 out-of-state (undergraduate); $12,629 in-state, $27,731 out-of-state (graduate)
University of Alaska-Southeast Juneau, AK 4-year, Public Bachelor's $6,132 in-state, $17,306 out-of-state
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit Bachelor's $49,116
University of Hawai'i-Manoa Honolulu, HI 4-year, Public Master's $15,072 in-state, $35,160 out-of-state
University of California-Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $13,968 in-state, $38,676 out-of-state (undergraduate); $13,193 in-state, $28,295 (graduate)

Sources: National Center for Educational Statistics

College and School Selection Criteria

When reviewing schools for marine animal training, consider the following:

  • Choose a program that allows for hands-on training at marine mammal facilities through workshops, field trips, practicums and internships.
  • Check for schools with higher rates of job placement after graduation, but know that you may need to work in related positions before finding one as a trainer.
  • Jobs for marine animal trainers can be found in facilities like zoos, theme parks, aquariums and veterinary clinics, so prospective students may want to think about where they'd like to eventually work when choosing which field of study to pursue.

Associate's Degree in Marine Animal Training

Associate's degree programs in marine animal training include an Associate of Applied Science in Aquarium Science and an Associate of Science in Exotic Animal Training and Management. Graduates are prepared for entry-level animal care jobs or may continue on to a university.

Bachelor's Degree in Marine Animal Training

Broader undergraduate degrees in marine animal training, such as a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology or a Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior, still require additional specialized training. Hands-on training working with marine animals can be gained through internships and fieldwork.

Graduate Certificate in Marine Animal Training

There are a variety of certificate options for aspiring marine animal trainers, including an Aquatic Animal Health Certificate, a Certificate in Beginning Marine Mammalogy and a Certificate in Marine Mammal Behavior and Training. Certificate programs are typically only available to students who have already completed or are enrolled in a degree program.

Marine animal training programs are available at varying levels, and may include hands-on training, internships and fieldwork. Degrees may include marine biology, marine animal training, or animal behavior.

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