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Ichthyologist Job Description | Career, Skill, Salary


When we talk of ichthyology, few people are conversant with the profession or the job description of an ichthyologist. An Ichthyologist’s job description encompasses all the aspects of aquatic life (fish in particular), its survival, characteristics, and fostering a suitable environment where fishes can thrive and breed.

Among some of the duties of the ichthyologist is researching different species of fish and their natural habitat to ensure their survival and help improve their wellbeing. 

With the growing level of water population around the world today, the duties of the ichthyologist cannot be overemphasized. The Ichthyologist works in hand with relevant authorities to ensure that our waters are safe for fishes and other marine endangered species to thrive. Their duties also extend to museums, aquariums, and other aqua safety industries. In this article, you will learn more about an ichthyologist, an ichthyologist’s job description, and what it takes to become an ichthyologist. 

What is Ichthyology?

Ichthyology is a subsection of zoology dedicated to studying fish and other aquatic life forms. In other words, an ichthyologist is also a marine biologist. They are saddled with the responsibility of identifying and studying different fish species. Fishes are usually classified into three major groups namely:

  • Bony fish
  • Cartilaginous fish
  • Jawless fish 

The job description of an ichthyologist encompasses the characteristics, origin, behavioral pattern, reproductive habitat, and environment, and how these various classes of fish grow and thrive. An ichthyologist can work in either the government or the private sector. While a good number of them spend their time in the field to have a firsthand study of fish in their natural habitat, their job description is not only exclusive to the fields.

Where Does An Ichthyologist Work?

Ichthyologists can work in government research centers, universities, zoos, museums, laboratories, and private marine companies. They become specialized by picking a particular specie of interest and working with them for a long period. An ichthyologist can also stick to one career path like collection management, education, and research.

Educational Requirements, Training, and Certification Required for Ichthyology 

Becoming an Ichthyologist requires that you acquire the necessary qualification, training, and certification.

  • A Degree in Zoology or Marine Biology 

one of the key criteria for becoming an ichthyologist is to first obtain a college degree in marine biology or zoology. After a college degree in zoology, most people pursue a master’s degree to advance their career. To become an independent researcher or take up a university teaching position or a research institute, a doctorate (Ph.D.) is necessary.

Course Work

The courses required to pursue a career in ichthyology usually includes anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, communication, statistics, and computer technology that is relevant in the field of biological sciences. Other course works that may also be necessary include animal science, the study of animal behavior, marine science, ecology, veterinary science, and agriculture (animal husbandry). 

Internship

A marine internship is a great way to gain the required field experience during your undergraduate studies. There are many research organizations like the NOAA Fisheries that provide the opportunity for aspiring marine scientists to attend summer programs. They also assist aspiring marine scientists through compensation packages.

Certification

There are essential certifications that one needs to acquire to pursue a career in ichthyology. One such certification, which is mandatory is the open-water diving certification. You can obtain this certification from the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI Worldwide). SCUBA certification is also necessary depending on the nature of your fieldwork as an ichthyologist.

Career 

The Ichthyologist’s job description is broad and covers different areas of fisheries and aquatic life. The ichthyologist, through different approaches studies, analyzes, collates documents, and assists in ocean conservation.

An ichthyologist can either choose to operate independently or become part of an organization working towards the conservation of the environment and ocean life. If you choose to become an ichthyologist, below are some duties and responsibilities that are associated with the career. 

Also Read: What is Walgreen Hiring Process? | Job Application, Interviews and Employment

The Duties and Responsibilities of an Ichthyologist 

There are several responsibilities and duties of the ichthyologist. However, it all depends on the nature of the job he/she decides to accept after studies. The responsibilities of an ichthyologist may be made up of the following:

  • Identification of the fish specie
  • Observing behavioral threats of the fish
  • Ensuring that the water quality in the tank is favorable
  • Designing and carrying out research
  • Collecting and evaluating data
  • Scientific paper writing and publication
  • Participating in seminars and other industrial events
  • Assist in the efforts toward the ocean life conservation 
  • Contribute by offering lectures and public education in biology, conservation, ecology, marine life, etc. 
  • Collating and presenting findings to industry professionals

Ichthyologists that are involved in private research activities may submit their work for peer review in professional journals. Publishing is an essential activity for professors who work in universities and colleges. It forms part of the requirement to enjoy more frequent tenures as an expert.

Skill Set Required for Ichthyology 

Some of the necessary skills you require as an ichthyologist to become in the endeavor include:

Research skills cover the areas of field observation and sampling, which may include tropical locations and extreme habitats like the polar areas or the deep sea. The ichthyologist should be able to organize, analyze and process collate data for further application. He or she should also be willing to go for long hours in the field or research laboratories. 

  • Experimental design and application skill 

Experimental design and application cover the skillset required to collect and preserve the different specimens. Some of the positions associated with ichthyology require the knowledge of specialized laboratory skills like gel electrophoresis, microscopy, etc.

  • Computer application skills

Computer skills in the area of GIS and GPS are essential for success in the field.

  • Interpersonal relationship skill 

Since the job description also involves mentoring people at both public and university levels and collaborating with other scientists, biologists and other players in the industry interpersonal relationship is an essential skills. The ability to communicate well and present a clear written report and presentation is essential for success in Ichthyology.

Ichthyologist’s Salary Expectations

Ichthyologists often work irregular hours with long field and laboratory hours. There are job openings for ichthyologists at both the federal and state levels and also science and tech establishments. Other establishments like engineering and life science centers may also require the services of an ichthyologist for research and development. 

Various factors can affect the salary of an ichthyologist. They include the job type, the ichthyologist’s educational competence, the research environment, and the associated duties of the ichthyologist’s portfolio.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is no specific data about the salary of ichthyologists, However, it approaches the profession as part of zoology and wildlife biology. Hence, the expected salary range of an ichthyologist includes:

  • Median Yearly Salary: $66,350
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $106,320
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $41,720

According to future projections, the field of zoology and wildlife biology is expected to see a 4 to 5% rise through 2029. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be intense competition for jobs in the area. Therefore, hands-on or practical experience is essential to survive the competition. One of the ways to gain hands-on experience is through volunteering.

On the other hand, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) is of the view that ichthyologists’ job prospects will most likely remain moderately strong in the areas of collection management, academics, conservation centers, and public aquariums. 

Ichthyologist’s Job Openings 

According to the ichthyologist job description, there are opening in the following areas.

#1. Fishery Hatches, Aquariums, and Museums 

Fishery hatches and aquariums occasionally have job openings for ichthyologists. Your duty as an ichthyologist may include ensuring that the right conditions and environment that match the fish’s natural habitat are in place for the fish to thrive. Also, you may be required to carry out a routine check to ensure that the fishes are in good health. Other responsibilities include formulating the proper diet and breeding plan for the fish.

Once in a while, aquariums bring in a collection of exotic fish for public viewing. Therefore, the ichthyologist has the responsibility of researching these fishes and preparing them for public display. Museums also require the services of an ichthyologist to identify different fish species and catalog the samples accordingly by their scientific names. Jobs at the museum usually include keeping accurate records for historical reference and making samples ready for public display.

#2. Environmental Agencies and Government Establishments 

There are instances where the government and other environmental agencies will require the services of an ichthyologist. They include the areas of research and marine life conservation. An ichthyologist’s job description, in this case, may include scuba diving certification and experience. Other certifications like the one from NAUI may also be necessary since this opening mostly requires more field activities and interaction with the natural habitat of different fish species.

Part of the ichthyologist’s job description here also includes the collection of new and undiscovered species, researching to ascertain the effects of pollution on aquatic life and the resultant effect, which is fish adaptation. Under environmental and government agencies, the ichthyologist has a great responsibility to provide ways to tackle pollution and its effect on marine life. You may also be engaging in different laboratory activities that may include cutting up a specimen for a better understanding of its structure and behavioral pattern.

#3. Institutions of Learning Like Colleges and Universities   

You can either find the opportunity to work as a teacher or as a visiting lecturer in institutions of academic learning. One of the things you can do is serve as a teacher in biology or ecology or provide useful advice and mentorship to aspiring ichthyologists. In academic settings, you may be required to produce proposals and apply for research funding for your university.

Many universities will require the service of an ichthyologist to provide research papers for publication in different scientific journals. The ichthyologist also has to attend seminars and scientific conferences to gain the opinion of other scientists in their findings.

Ichthyologist’s Work Schedule 

While there are instances where the ichthyologist may be required to travel to different locations (locally and internationally) to collect samples from different natural habitats, most field ichthyologists working in the field do not necessarily need to travel. Therefore, many of them can maintain a standard 40-hour weekly schedule.

Risk Factor of Ichthyologist’s Job

The unpredictable nature of the environment is one of the greatest risk factors associated with the job of an ichthyologist. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the right training and precautions are taken to ensure that risk is minimal. 

Conclusion 

The duties of an ichthyologist can be tasking and may involve several hours of field activity. However, like other professions, Ichthyology offers some level of fulfillment. For those with a passion for the environment and especially for the conservation of aquatic life, ichthyology offers a great career path for them.

It is an opportunity to contribute to the survival of marine life and the environment. As a branch of zoology, there are several opportunities for those in the field and also prospective candidates to be fully engaged in making a positive impact on the environment.

Going by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projection, the field of ichthyology will see a rise in job demand in the coming years. Understanding the Ichthyologist’s job description is the first step to deciding whether it is the career for you.

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