Many careers that involve working with marine animals require a four-year college degree and/or a specialized degree in a certain area of interest. A love for animals and their well-being, as well as a strong work ethic, are the first requirements for these careers. Consider willingness to work outdoors in all types of weather, to work weekends, holidays and nights if needed, and to perform necessary tasks such as cleaning up after animals, etc. Your responses will help direct your path to a career which fits you well and brings enjoyment and satisfaction to your life.
Education and experience can begin early on. In junior and senior high school, focus on math and science courses. Fields of study to explore during college include agriculture, biology, marine biology, zoology, animal behavior, animal science, animal care, psychology, environmental science and veterinary medicine. Experience in public speaking and communication is extremely valuable and plays an important role in many animal-related occupations. Many marine animal organizations and rehabilitation centers offer internships and/or volunteer opportunities. However, any internship or volunteer experiences with animals may be helpful (ex. vet clinic, animal shelter, horse ranch, zoo, or aquarium).
Career titles include Animal Keeper, Animal Trainer, Aquarist, Educator, Marine Mammal Scientist, Marine Policy Coordinator/Enforcer, Stranding/Rehabilitation Coordinator, Veterinary Technician/Technologist and Veterinarian. Salaries range widely depending on training, experience, location, type of organization, and demand. Relocation may be necessary. Professionalism, energy, a passion for animals and the environment, communication skills and the ability to work well as a team member are valuable traits to possess.