Aquarist: Job Description & Salary

A career as an aquarist may be a good fit for those interested in working with and caring for animals. This article will cover the primary job responsibilities, educational requirements, and job outlook for this service-oriented position.

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Career Definition of an Aquarist

Aquarists are responsible for ensuring marine species in aquariums are well-cared for. They primarily work in aquariums, interacting with various animals in the exhibits. Aquarists may spend some of their time working in an office when creating exhibit layouts. They may have to travel for fieldwork to obtain species that could be added to the aquarium. Most aquarists work part-time, with a work schedule outside of traditional business hours.

The job responsibilities for an aquarist can vary according to their exact function within an aquarium; however, their work is centered on caring for marine animals. General job responsibilities can include feeding animals, cleaning the exhibits, and performing necessary maintenance on exhibit equipment. They will need to observe animals and monitor them for any signs of illness, and capture them when veterinarian care is needed. Aquarists may conduct stimulating activities for the more intelligent species. They can also lead informational sessions for aquarium visitors.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's Degree
Job Skills Excellent attention to detail, strong interpersonal skills, physical stamina, and strong problem-solving skills
Median Salary (2017)* $44,219
Job Outlook (2014-2024)** 11% (Animal Care & Service Workers)

Sources: *PayScale.com,**U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most positions within the field require a bachelor's degree in zoology, marine biology, or a related field. Undergraduate students looking to break into the field may have better job prospects if they gain relevant work experience through an internship at an aquarium. In addition, aquarists will need to obtain a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and scuba diving certification. Aquarists can pursue membership through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Marine Aquarium Societies of North America, both of which provide training and relevant updates to those in the field.

Required Skills

Aquarists should pay excellent attention to detail, since they will need to spot when an animal is sick and ensure they receive the proper care. They must have physical stamina in order to perform the more manual aspects of their job. Aquarists should also have strong problem-solving skills to determine if animals are benefiting from the activities they provide. Excellent interpersonal skills are essential, as aquarists may interact with aquarium visitors.

Career and Salary Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aquarists fall under the category of animal care and service workers. They report an 11% growth in employment opportunities for animal care and service workers between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. More advanced positions in the field are anticipated to have an increase in job growth because of increasing popularity in environmental conservation. In September 2017, PayScale.com reported the median annual salary for aquarists was $44,219.

Related Careers

Those considering a career as an aquarist may be interested in one of the below related careers. They offer prospective candidates the opportunity to work with animals or focus on environmental conservation.

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