Most people need to be aware of how sophisticated an aquarium’s systems are and how delicate the balance of the species it houses can be. Monitoring an aquarium requires a highly qualified and devoted team of workers to ensure the health and stability of the creatures visitors enjoy seeing.
Are you captivated by the colorful world that resides beneath the water’s surface? Do you have a strong desire to care for and nurture aquatic life? If so, becoming an aquarist could be the ideal career for you.
Working with various aquatic species, creating magnificent underwater settings, and contributing to the well-being of marine life are all benefits of being an aquarist. In this post, we’ll look at aquarists, their roles, career opportunities, and how to become one.
What is an Aquarist?
An aquarist is someone who keeps an aquarium. A professional aquarist is in charge of caring for fish and other aquatic animals. The caretaker maintains tank cleanliness, examines the creatures’ nutrition, and recognizes symptoms of illness or suffering.
Significantly, a person in this position should endeavor to make an animal’s existence in captivity as similar to life in the wild as feasible.
How to Become an Aquarist
Because your principal purpose as an aquarist is to keep underwater species safe and healthy, you must have the necessary skills and background to succeed in this role. To become a certified aquarist, follow these steps:
1. Earn Your bachelor’s degree
Obtain a bachelor’s degree in a relevant scientific or animal-related discipline to study animal behavior and anatomy. You can get a degree in aquaculture, marine biology, zoology, or other related disciplines like environmental engineering or veterinary sciences.
As early as high school, you could begin taking electives or participating in extracurricular activities, gaining expertise in animals, ecosystems, and conservation efforts.
2. Take Scuba Diving Training
Many aquarist jobs require fieldwork, such as diving in oceans, rivers, and lakes to gather samples and research aquatic life. Employers anticipate that you will obtain your scuba diving certification outside your bachelor’s program, as it is necessary for practically all aquarist positions.
Also, get your cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid certificates to administer emergency care to underwater animals.
3. Consider An Internship
While only sometimes necessary, many aquarists will begin their careers by interning in a local aquarium or refuge to gain experience and a competitive edge. This could allow you to observe a professional aquarist and learn more about the role’s responsibilities through hands-on, practical experience.
As an entry-level candidate, including an internship on your resume, can help you stand out. Many programs collaborate with organizations that provide internships for college credit; thus, inquire with your professor about possible options.
4. Join A Professional Organization
Many aquarists from all around the world are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This non-profit association provides resources and networking opportunities for aquarists to discuss ideas, industry information, and work-related advice.
In addition to networking with a global community, you’ll be updated on the latest advancements in your sector. There may be other local groups in your region.
5. Advance Your Education
Consider furthering your education to take on more arduous duties. You can get your master’s degree in marine biology or a related discipline after finishing undergraduate school or working as an aquarist for a few years.
This advanced education can prepare you to work in senior and specialized roles. You could do advanced fieldwork, high-level experiments, or teach kids about marine biology.
What does an aquarist do?
An aquarist’s job description varies depending on location but also on seniority: a junior-level aquarist’s duties may include cleaning tanks and logging animal behavior, whereas a more senior aquarist will formulate nutrition and activity plans, lead research to improve aquarium conditions and lead deep-sea dives to observe new specimens.
An aquarist’s general responsibilities include the following:
- Going deep sea diving to research and collect samples of undersea animals
- Supervising the maintenance of aquariums housing sea creatures such as crustaceans, fish, and sharks
- Checking pumps, filters, and heaters to verify proper operation
- Planned nutrition and propagation
- Monitoring sea animals’ health and identifying any illnesses or injuries
- Report writing on tank conditions, water quality, and animal health
- Ensuring that the water quality and temperature are at the proper levels
Aquarist salaries might vary depending on criteria such as experience, expertise, geography, and company type. Here is a general breakdown of aquarist income ranges in the countries mentioned:
- Canada: Aquarists in Canada can earn an annual income ranging from $35,000 to $55,000, with differences depending on credentials, experience, and region. Salaries in major cities and for people working in research or specialized fields may be more significant.
- Australia: Aquarists in Australia earn an annual income ranging from AUD 40,000 to AUD 60,000. Salaries may differ depending on region, size of the institution, and amount of experience.
- USA: The average yearly income for aquarists in the United States ranges from $30,000 to $60,000, based on experience and job type. Aquarists with more experience who work in recognized organizations or specialized sectors might earn more excellent compensation.
- United Kingdom: Aquarists in the United Kingdom make an average annual pay of £18,000 to £30,000. On the other hand, experienced aquarists with advanced qualifications or managerial positions can make up to £40,000 or more.
Qualities of a Successful Aquarist
Specific attributes and talents are required to flourish in the profession of aquarist. Here are some characteristics of a successful aquarist:
1. Passion For Aquatic Life
Having a real passion for aquatic creatures and their well-being is critical. Aquarists should be motivated by a desire to give the best possible care for the creatures under their care.
2. Physical Stamina
Lifting heavy equipment, conducting water changes, and maintaining large aquarium systems may all be physically hard for aquarists. Physical stamina and fitness are required to perform these duties efficiently.
3. Communication and Education
Aquarists frequently encounter visitors, coworkers, and researchers. Practical verbal and written communication skills are required to educate others about aquatic life, share knowledge, and cooperate with team members.
4. Attention to Detail
Aquarists must be meticulous about water quality, animal behavior, and tank conditions. They must be alert and aggressive in detecting and addressing any problems.
While a degree in a relevant discipline, such as marine biology or zoology, is desirable, an aquarist might begin the industry with a different degree or without a degree. Hands-on training and exposure to the field can be obtained through practical experience, internships, and volunteering in aquariums or related institutions.
If you enjoy caring for aquatic species, creating new habitats, and working with like-minded professionals in an aquarium, becoming an aquarist could be your perfect career. Working with aquatic life, building beautiful underwater landscapes, and helping in conservation efforts make being an aquarist a satisfying career.
You can embark on a fulfilling journey in this unique and engaging profession by earning the essential education, experience, and abilities.