Career Guide: Working with Sharks

Sharks are incredible creatures. They have roamed this earth for over 400 million years; appearing long before dinosaurs. This time frame has allowed them to evolve into the amazing predators that they are. Being able to smell a single drop of blood within one million drops of water, sums up their predatory abilities. Pretty incredible.

Due to their predatory instincts, many people fear sharks. In reality, we're much more harmful to them then they are to us. There are approximately five fatal shark attacks a year. Majority of attacks do not end in death; sharks mistake humans for seals or other prey. When they realize that a human is not their regular prey, they are prone to spit them out. The human race is harming sharks at an alarming rate. To put this into perspective; for every human a shark kills, two million sharks are killed by humans. With that being said, there are many who love and respect this creature. Some are even lucky enough to work with them every day. Here are some of the careers that allow you to work alongside these beautiful fish.

Professional cage diver

For some, cage diving with sharks seems insane. For others, they enjoy this as a career. Tourism is a massive industry. Cage diving is one of those excursions that many do want to try. Cage divers should be knowledgeable regarding sharks. Safety is number one, so they know to look for changes in behaviour.

There isn't generally any educational background required. Cage divers have a strong passion for sharks and enjoy a job that is outside the box. They will also be certified in CPR and rescue training. These positions can be found all over the world.

The salary of a cage diver varies greatly. For a tourist, cage diving can cost anywhere from, $250 to $2000 (for excursions lasting a few days). So, they aren't going hungry and they love what they do.

Shark biologists

These individuals are interested in research. There is so much to learn about sharks, and these people are actively making discoveries. Whether they're tagging sharks for tracking purposes, or examining their physiology; they're up close and personal. They tend to specialize, studying one species of shark. One experiment can take a couple years, so it's crucial to be focused on a specific topic. Some of the areas shark biologists are interested in are;

  • Mating patterns
  • Feeding; what and how they eat
  • Migration
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Anatomy
  • How they cope with disease
  • Behaviour

In order to become a shark biologist, you need to attend a post-secondary institution. A Master's degree or PhD is preferred. If you're interested, start your Bachelor's degree in any of the following programs; marine biology, zoology, genetics, oceanography, physiology, etc. It will be during your Master's where you specialize in specific subject matter. So, if you know what you'd like to research, you can enter your Bachelor's accordingly. For example, if you want to study shark behaviour; you may want to complete a major in marine biology and a minor in psychology.

The average salary ranges from $36,000 to $93,000 (many teach as well).


Most photographers develop their career on land. For underwater photographers, they want to explore the areas that others have not touched. Since many photographers work in freelance positions, there are not many requirements. They will have an extensive background in photography; being a certified and/or experienced diver.

Underwater lighting can be tricky; underwater photographers are highly skilled. They also need to be fearless. The closer the shot, the better. Sharks will freely swim around you, allowing you to take fascinating pictures. The key is staying calm; sharks can sense your heartbeat. If your heart beat stays at a steady, slow pace, they will not view you as prey.

The average salary is around $17,000 to $60,000 (highly depends on what you produce).

So, if you love sharks and the idea of travel, beauty and knowledge. Consider a career with these amazing creatures; where everyday will be a new adventure.


National Geographic. (2013). Shark Attack Facts. National Geographic Channel. Retrieved on March 25, 2014, from

Shark Biologist. Inside Jobs. Retrieved on March 25, 2014, from

Underwater Photographer. Inside Jobs. Retrieved on March 25, 2014, from

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