Students interested in fish hatchery management careers can consider a degree in fisheries science, also known as aquaculture. These programs can lead to a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries Science or a Master of Science in Fisheries Science.
A high school diploma or GED is required for a 4-year bachelor's program. A bachelor's degree with a strong background in biological sciences, as well as Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and letters of recommendation are required for master's programs.
Bachelor's Degree in Fisheries Science
Fisheries science majors study topics in salt and freshwater ecology, fish biology and physiology. Students also learn fish health factors such as disease prevention, water quality and waste management. Most programs offer students the opportunity to complete fieldwork or research at on-campus biological stations or through university-sponsored county extension programs. Coursework is hands-on and students can expect to spend a large part of their time in ponds or reservoirs while completing the following courses:
- Marine biology
- Organic chemistry
- Watershed management
- Fisheries science
Master's Degree in Fisheries Science
A master's-level curriculum allows degree candidates to specialize in one of the many aspects of hatcheries management. Programs are research intensive, and coursework allows students to develop technologies that create solutions to improve water quality or a hatchery's environmental sustainability. Some programs may also offer business and statistics courses so that students interested in pursuing a career in commercial aquaculture can explore industry demand or learn to assess a hatchery's population growth. Graduate-level courses vary according to a college or university's location in order to coincide with local industries. In the South, for example, students may conduct research on catfish or large-mouth bass production. Core coursework may address the following:
- Water science
- Fish nutrition
- Population management
- Freshwater ecology
Salary Info and Employment Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers, including hatchery managers, earned a median annual income of $64,170 in May of 2015. These workers can expect fierce competition for jobs since a 2% decline in employment is projected during the 10-year period of 2014-2024.
Fisheries science degrees at the bachelor's or master's levels prepare students for fish hatchery management careers. These degree programs provide the necessary skills in fish biology, hydrology, and ecology, but employment prospects will be competitive given the declining job growth in this field.