Ichthyology is an interesting career option for those who have an inclination for water life and of course a genuine interest in studying fishes. Ichthyology as a science is closely related to biological sciences, more specifically fish science, zoology and marine biology.
Therefore a person professionally experienced in ichthyology may be considered as a marine biologist or a fish scientist or a specialized zoologist.
A person who is technically qualified in Ichthyology is known as Ichthyologist. Very often an Ichthyologist is addressed as a fish scientist as his work involves extreme scientific research and lab work.
Ichthyologists are employed by museums, academic institutions, research laboratories, fisheries research institutes, and fisheries organizations. Opportunities are plenty for aspiring Ichthyologists to be employed in various nature conservation organizations and government departments involved with marine life conservation, fish conservation etc.
Career aspirants in Ichthyology must have at least a graduation in Ichthyology or in related fields. Graduates in zoology or marine sciences are also considered for the position of an Ichthyologist by some organizations. Bachelor’s degree Ichthyology or related subjects is actually the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. Candidates who wish to pursue a research or academic career must have a master’s or doctoral degree in Ichthyology or related subjects.
US Universities and Colleges for Ichthyology Courses
Some of the reputed academic programs in ichthyology are available at the University of Alabama; the Auburn University; the University of Alaska; the California State University; and the University of Arizona. Apart from these universities, the Colorado State University; the University of California; the Cornell University; the University of Central Florida; and the Duke University also offer some academic programs in ichthyology.
Other American universities where academic courses in ichthyology and related subjects are offered include reputed universities such as the University of Maryland; the Ohio State University; the Oregon State University; the University of North Carolina; and the Rutgers University. Other universities also have courses in fish science or ichthyology.
Canadian Universities and Colleges for Ichthyology Courses
Major Canadian universities that offer academic programs in ichthyology are the University of Alberta and the Dalhousie University. In addition to this, some ichthyology programs are available at the University of British Columbia; St. John’s University and the University of Guelph.
Personality Requirements for an Ichthyology Career
The most significant quality required of a prospective Ichthyologist is his ability to carry out independent research in Ichthyology. He must also have good physical stamina to carry out the strenuous field work and long hours of lab work. However the most important requirement for a career in Ichthyology is the candidate’s genuine love to pursue a career in this field.
An Ichthyologist must have good computer skills and strong communication skills. He should have a genuine love for an outdoor professional life. Since most of his career he works with a team of scientists he must have good coordination and team management skills.
Career Options Available
Professional ichthyologists can find a suitable research career or a scientist with applied research departments of the government agencies and scientific laboratories. They can work in teaching positions in various academic institutions. In museums and public aquaria, qualified and experienced ichthyologists are absorbed as curators and collection managers.
Applied Research in Government Agencies
Ichthyologists with a master’s degree or doctoral degree in ichthyology are absorbed by various federal state agencies that are active in Fish and Wildlife Services, Environmental Protection, and National Marine Fisheries Services for various administrative and research positions.
University Teaching and Research
Ichthyologists with a doctoral degree are employed by universities and colleges as college lecturers or university professors and training instructors.
Curatorship Positions in Museums
Qualified ichthyologists are absorbed by museums for the curation of preserved fish specimens.
Collection Management Positions in Museums
Qualified ichthyologists work as collection managers in museums to manage the collections preserved at the museums. Major career responsibilities of a collection manager involve cataloguing the collection, preparing databases of various collections and maintain all records and documentation related to the collection of the fish specimens.
Managerial Positions in Public Aquaria
Qualified ichthyologists work as managers in public aquaria where their major job responsibilities include maintenance of aquarium, conducting field trips, importing and breeding of rare species of fishes and research.
Positions in Conservation Agencies
Qualified ichthyologists work in coordination with conservation biologists for national and international conservation agencies. Their career responsibilities in such organizations include the development of various conservation plans and implementing measures for protecting the extinct species of fishes and other marine life forms.
Job of an Ichthyologist involves both field work and laboratory research. Ichthyologists collect samples to be studied from the field and carry out their research in the privacy of their laboratories. Later they publish their research findings in various research publications and sometimes, present their research papers in Ichthyology in various conferences and symposiums. Experienced Ichthyologists are invited by universities and colleges for giving lecturers on Ichthyology and conducting training programs. So, in general, Ichthyologists work as Ichthyology lecturers in academic institutions; Ichthyology researchers in research organizations and as independent Ichthyology researchers for museums and similar organizations.
There is a great scope of self-employment possibilities in the field of Ichthyology. A qualified Ichthyologist may start his own fish farming venture, or a fish breeding facility or a private consulting firm in Ichthyology.
A researcher ichthyologist or scientist ichthyologist normally works in the comfortable settings of a research organization or a laboratory though sometime he may need to travel on research trips. An ichthyologist who works with museums, aquaria and other private agencies may have to travel a lot for the collection of samples and generally his work is very hectic. His job profile often requires him to visit to the marine research stations, fish breeding centers, fish farms, and natural fish habitations. Sometimes they will have to attend seminars and conferences on ichthyology.
On an average, an entry level ichthyologist earns approximately $20,000 per year while an experienced professional takes home an estimated annual salary of $50,000.