CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 24, 2014
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How to Become an Aquaculturist

Aquaculturist

Imagine you are squatting on a floating dock gazing at a net cage that is eight meters deep and four meters wide, cautiously watching the school of salmon or herring whirling inside the cage. As an aquaculturist working for an expansive fish farm, this cage is just among the many that you monitor on a daily basis. You are concerned about the health of these aquatic organisms and determine the basis for their unusual behavior. As an aquaculturist you are responsible for the growing of marine and freshwater shellfish, finfish, and aquatic plants.

Job Responsibilities

The assorted duties for an aquaculturist include:

  • Operating, maintaining and monitoring aquatic farms.
  • Raising fish in controlled or natural environments such as net cages, ponds or tanks.
  • Guaranteeing quality management and sustainability of aquatic farms.
  • Ensuring proper working of aerators and pumps.
  • To ensure fish are fed with a diet rich in nutrients and vitamins.
  • To periodically collect water from net cages that are near the shore of the lake, send them to the fish pathologists in the lab for bacterial plating and autopsy.
  • Carefully observing and analyzing the aquatic organisms to find the basis of their problems and restoring them to full health.
  • Keeping fish records on the farms’ performance to help in proper management of the firms.
  • Periodically releasing fish reared in farms into the wild waters to enhance the wild population.

Earnings

Earnings for aquaculturists vary by employer, location and their level of service in the aquatic firm. Below is the breakdown of the aquaculturists’ annual salaries according to various factors:

According to service level:

Level of Work

Earnings

Starting

 $40,000

Senior

$62,500

Average

$55,000

Source: Open Universities Australia

According to location:       

Location

Earnings

Arizona               

$70,700

Illinois

$31,100

Tennessee

$59,300

Kentucky

$40,100

Louisiana

$65,000

New York

$61,900

Education

Some aquaculture professions like aqualculture farming require that you secure a high school diploma. Those who are willing to secure this position receive on-the-job training. Nevertheless, a large number of prospective employers require you to have postsecondary education. Others call for graduate-level education. There are many degree programs ranging from associate to doctoral levels.

Some of the best colleges that offer aquaculture education include:

  • Brunswick College
  • University of Stirling
  • Clemson University
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Brown University
  • Georgetown University

 

The aquaculture education program involves the following various areas that enable the trainees to develop hands on experience, such areas include; fish spawning, aquaculture engineering, fish genetics, hatchery production, fish pathology, water quality and fish nutrition.

Imperative Qualities

These are some of the skills and capabilities required for the position of an aquaculturist. You need to be:

  • Problem solving
  • Strong and physically fit
  • Planning and organization
  • Enjoy working in an aquatic environment
  • Supervisory and management skills

Career Development

As an aquaculturist, you can work for a variety of employers such as academic institutions, state and federal government agencies, and fish farms. You can secure a position in any of these positions:

  • Fish research assistant
  • Hatchery technician
  • Aquaculture farmer
  • Biological science technician
  • Shellfish culturist

Aquaculturists who pursue Master’s and Doctoral degrees can secure positions in research or academia. Conversely, those who hold aquaculture degrees can also secure management positions in various organizations.

Career Prospects

According to the government economists, aquaculturists are bound to witness a 3% decline in employment opportunities. However, those who work for land owners are likely to have more opportunities between 2014 and 2020.

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