There is no doubt that obtaining both Animal Behavior College (ABC) Aquarium Maintenance and Zookeeper Assistant certifications are beneficial in their own ways. The Aquarium Maintenance Program provides you with the basics of setting up aquariums, caring for saltwater and freshwater aquariums, knowing proper protocols for quarantining fish, and basics in life support and sump set ups, while laying out the foundation for starting your own business.
The Zookeeper Assistant Program gives you a plethora of information regarding animal care for reptiles, mammals, marine mammals, avian species, etc. It provides history on how the zoo began and the goals the zoos have today in their efforts for education and conservation. So, how does someone benefit and stand out by having both certifications under their belt? Having both certifications can help display your work ethic, can extend your knowledge in a zoo setting, can increase your options to apply for jobs at aquariums as well as zoos, and can be the starting point of adding new exhibits to a zoo or aquarium location. Plus, it will make you stand out from other candidates who only have one certification. This can help you impress that employer who you are dreaming of working for !
To start, having both shows tremendous dedication to your studies and your willingness to learn more. You are dedicating your time and effort to two courses that, while seemingly different, truly can go hand in hand. Your work ethic will speak volumes when presenting two certifications that prove beneficial to your field of study and actually compliment one another. Obtaining both certifications extends your knowledge of the zoo field, which makes you that much more beneficial to have on a zoo team.
Each zoo facility is different and provides various habitat set ups and species to explore, including aquariums and aquatic species. The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., for instance, features an Amazonia exhibit housing many aquatic species found in the Amazon River basin. They also have the amphibian gallery and the coral lab. Adding an aquarium maintenance certification with your zookeeper assistant certification, this could give you more leverage in securing a position within that exhibit area. You would have a grasp of aquatic knowledge while also being aware of zoo policies and procedures.
Additionally, these certifications benefit you in the aquarium world. Most aquariums follow similar procedures and guidelines to zoos, so it would be to your advantage to possess a zookeeper assistant certification while also applying for a position in an aquarium. Most aquariums possess marine mammals (seals, sea lions, dolphins, beluga whales, otters, etc.), aquatic bird species (penguins, puffins, seagulls, etc.), other bird species (owls, hawks, eagles, etc.), amphibians, and aquatic reptiles (turtles, alligators, etc.). These are animals that not every aquarist knows how to handle and require specialized training. This is where a zookeeper assistant certification combined with an aquarium maintenance certification truly comes in handy.
The Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans, for example, possesses two sea otters, African black footed penguins, rock hopper penguins, a white alligator, a couple of owls, a red-tailed hawk, and many other tropical bird species. Having both certifications gives you the educational foundation to be able to work with these amazing animals in an aquarium setting.
Gaining aquarium maintenance knowledge along with zookeeper assistant knowledge could begin the layout of something new in the zoo or aquarium you apply for. You could potentially design and run a new exhibit! If a zoo you were working in does not possess an aquarium exhibit, then they could hire you as their aquarist and involve you in the planning process of designing an exhibit that meets your zoo’s mission and brings something new for the public to see and learn from. How exciting would that be?!
Bottom line, there are always benefits for learning new things and trying out new courses, especially when it comes to figuring out your career path. Having both the Aquarium Maintenance Program and Zookeeper Assistant Program certificates could make you that much more of an ideal candidate for a zoo or aquarium facility.