How To Become An Ichthyologist
Ichthyology is the study of fish. An ichthyologist studies fish, including different fish species, their behaviors, growth patterns, and how they affect the ecosystem. They spend much of their time in the field, actively observing fish and researching them. This is a good career for people who are fascinated by fish, who enjoy science and working outdoors, and want to use their research to enhance our knowledge of our planet’s wildlife.
Why Become An Ichthyologist
There are more than 28,000 species of fish on our planet. Fish are an important part of Earth’s ecosystems. Ichthyologists are interested in studying all of these species of fish in order to better understand how fish impact our planet.
An ichthyologist has many different duties. They often can be found out in the field – oceans, lakes, and rivers – studying fish in the environment, observing them and researching them. This job may require them to travel to other cities or even other parts of the world, to track certain species of fish. Ichthyologists spend a lot of time in their laboratories conducting research and experiments. They often will decide to specialize in a certain area of study, whether it is studying a certain species of fish, or fish within a specific area of the world, or the evolution of fish species, or how climate change is affecting fish, or some other specialty area.
If you enjoy science and performing scientific research, if you are able to work outdoors in the field collecting data, and if you enjoy learning about fish, then this might be a good career choice for you.
Ichthyologists should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Research skills
- Computer literacy
- Enjoys the outdoors
- Physically fit
- Good Communicator
Ichthyologist Work Environment
The exact work environment for an ichthyologist will vary depending on your job. Ichthyologists spend a lot of their careers doing field work. This involves diving into oceans, lakes, rivers and other open bodies of water. You will observe fish in their natural habitat and gather samples necessary for research. Ichthyologists work in a laboratory, performing research and experiments. They must write reports, work with other scientists, and ask for grants to continue their research. Teamwork is essential in this position, as you will be collaborating with many other people. An ichthyologist must love working outdoors. This is a full time job. Long hours are possible, especially when you are out in the field.
The median salary for an ichthyologist is $57,000 in 2016.
There are many factors that will determine salary for this occupation. People who work near coastal areas, where they have easy access to fish populations, have the ability to earn higher salaries. In Connecticut and Rhode Island, the median salaries in this profession are $86,000 annually. Salary may vary depending on what industry a person works in. Some ichthyologists work for the government, while others work for educational or research institutions. These are just a few of the factors to take into consideration when thinking about salary.
Ichthyologist Career Outlook
Employment for all wildlife biologists is expected to grow by 4 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This includes ichthyologists. This is slower growth than other occupations within the United States.
Because most funding comes from the federal government, employment for ichthyologists will be limited by budgetary constraints. Positions in this field will be competitive, with more people applying than openings available. Ichthyologists who do find careers will need to seek out grants in order to participate in research in their profession.
If you’d like to become an ichthyologist, learn more by reading below.
Step 1: Undergraduate education. A bachelor’s degree is required to become an ichthyologist. There are many college majors to choose from, including biology, wildlife biology, zoology, or another related field. Courses in math and science will provide a strong foundation, and help you assess whether this is the right career for you. It takes four years to earn your bachelor’s degree.
Step 2: Graduate education. Approximately 50 percent of all ichthyologists have a master’s degree. This is a good idea to receive if you would like to open yourself up for more positions in the field. Graduate programs in ichthyology are available at universities within the United States. This will give you advanced training in the study of fish, research, and science.
Step 3: SCUBA certification. Scientists need to be able to go where the species that they are studying are, and for an ichthyologist who studies fish, that means going underwater. An ichthyologist might be diving into the ocean, into a lake, or inside of a river. SCUBA certification is necessary, because an ichthyologist will be spending much of their time diving underwater studying fish. You must be comfortable swimming in bodies of water in order to study fish.