Marine Animal Trainer Schools and Classes
Would you like to jump in the water and work directly with marine animals? Do you enjoy learning about animal behavior and ocean science? You may wish to pursue a career as a marine animal trainer and maintain the nutritional, emotional and physical needs of dolphins, whales and seals. Read on to find out about the programs and classes you can attend to get started on your career path. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Marine Animal Trainer Degree Do I Need?
There is no degree that leads directly to a career as an animal trainer; in fact, it's possible to achieve this role without any formal postsecondary education at all. Most preparation comes through on-the-job training and experience at an aquatic center or marina. However, the International Marine Animals Trainer Association (IMATA) notes that it may be advantageous to have at least an undergraduate degree before embarking on your career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics further states that marine animal trainers may wish to earn bachelor's degrees in such fields as marine biology, animal science or psychology (www.bls.gov).
Although 4-year baccalaureate programs offer theoretical studies that can help you prepare for jobs in the marine science field, you don't begin to focus on marine animal training until the master's degree level. A 2-year Master of Science in Marine Biology or Ocean Sciences may include components that allow you to work directly with marine animals in a training capacity. These programs are comprised of coursework, internships and field work at local animal rehabilitation or research facilities. Most programs also require you to complete a thesis.
What Subjects Will I Study?
At the undergraduate level, marine biology programs teach you about vertebrate zoology, genetics, physiology, marine population genetics and molecular cell biology. An animal science program covers animal care, biology and management as well as genetics, breeding and pre-veterinary medicine. Psychology degree programs focus on the human mind, but may also teach you about animal behavior and training techniques. Any of these programs is likely to include internships.
In a master's degree program, you learn about interacting with and training marine animals. Scientific courses cover biology, chemistry and physiology. You can also expect to take classes in diving, boat handling, environmental law, biometrics, marine ecology, chemical ecology and marine diseases.
What Should I Look for in a School?
When choosing a marine biology or ocean studies school, consider whether the program's research facilities are affiliated with the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. The Alliance provides resources to animal trainers and accredits some institutions that teach or train marine mammals. Also important is if the program is affiliated with the IMATA. The IMATA accredits training institutions that have been approved by the Alliance.
The amount and type of hands-on experience provided is also important. Most schools with marine biology programs are located near water, and many have boats and ocean research facilities located on campus for graduate students to use. A wealth of experience in the field may make you more attractive to employers.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: