Birds

Volunteer Program

You don’t have to be an oceanographer or an animal expert—everyone's welcome! If you meet the age requirement and are able to commit for at least one year, Aquarium staff will train you to do the rest!

If you are interested in a shorter commitment in a service-related program, click here.

Volunteers help run every aspect of the Aquarium with skill, enthusiasm, dedication and good humor. If you love to learn, enjoy talking to people and want to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, you will be a great volunteer!

Volunteer Benefits

  • Smiles and thanks from visitors from all over the world
  • Free parking while volunteering
  • Professional training
  • Membership privileges
  • Gift shop and cafe discounts
  • Social events and opportunities
  • Learning, laughter, wonder and excitement (unlimited!)

Volunteer Positions at the National Aquarium

Stimulating training courses teach you everything you need to know to do a top-notch job. From front-line ambassador to fish feeder, below is the ocean of options:

Exhibit Guides

Exhibit guides love the excitement of working on the front line while explaining and interpreting exhibits to visitors. After training, they are experts on the animals and their habitats.

Requirements

Exhibit guides are:

  • Keenly interested in biology, animals and their habitats, and conservation
  • Enthusiastic and eager to engage international and hometown visitors

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training sessions and a written test on Aquarium information, biology and teaching techniques, exhibit guides commit to working at least one 3.5-hour shift each week for a year.

Information Specialist

In this position, volunteers are given the opportunity to meet local and international visitors as they begin their journey through Aquarium buildings. Energetic, outgoing individuals are needed to promote our high standards of customer service while assisting our guests with their questions and wayfinding.

As an Information Specialist, as well a representative of the Aquarium, responsibilities may include, but not limited to:

  • Answering questions that concern operating hours, exhibit locations, membership privileges, Inner Harbor shops and restaurants, and directions both inside and outside the Aquarium.
  • Assisting visitors in finding lost items, distribute maps, and guides for special needs, and Baltimore literature.

Qualifications

Information specialists must be familiar with the Aquarium and its policies, have a patient, cordial manner; enjoying meeting the public as assisting guests with problems or complaints.

Training and Commitment

Candidates will be allowed to start at the information desk once they understand and agree to the following:

  • They are scheduled to work one regularly scheduled shift, 7 days a week. Shift options include 9:30am-1pm, 12:30pm-4pm, 3:30pm-5:30pm or 6:30pm (depending on the season). On Fridays, we are open late, so there is a shift from 6:30pm-9:30pm.
  • They must attend all training session specific to this position.
  • They are required to commit to a minimum of full year of volunteer service.

Office Assistant

For this position, volunteers must possess a pleasant and genial demeanor, with the ability to interact amicably with Aquarium staff, volunteers and visitors. Office Assistants are invaluable in assisting Aquarium staff with administrative duties (filing, phones, reception, scanning) and computer-related and other special projects. Volunteers may be found helping out in the main Aquarium offices (including the Volunteer Office) as well as our administrative offices a block away.

Requirements

For an Office Assistant, volunteers must possess the following qualities:

  • Be reliable and team-oriented.
  • Possess an out-going and pleasant personality and professional demeanor.
  • Have basic computer skills, working with software such as Microsoft Word and Excel spreadsheets.

Training and Commitment

Office Assistant volunteers will receive orientation to Aquarium office areas and training with office machine operation. All volunteers must complete seven online training modules and quizzes and one 4-hour weekend training session; and must commit to one 3-4 hour shift per week for at least a year.

National Aquarium Animal Rescue

Want to contribute to the conservation of sea turtles? Then, Animal Rescue Husbandry Assistant is the volunteer position for you!

Rescue husbandry assistants have the rare opportunity to work with endangered sea turtle patients and contribute to species conservation. Rescue husbandry assistants work behind the scenes, preparing diets, feeding, cleaning, conducting daily observations, record keeping, and assisting with local release events for the sea turtles undergoing rehabilitation at the National Aquarium. With continued training, volunteers will be able to gain advanced skills in husbandry techniques, administering oral medications, animal enrichment, handling and restraint. Opportunities for advancement will allow interested volunteers to assist with on and offsite medical procedures, necropsies, and animal transports. Animal rescue husbandry aides will work within the hospital pool area at the main aquarium.

Requirements

A basic knowledge of animal husbandry and record keeping is valuable. Applicants with previous animal care experience or related academic background desirable.

Rescue husbandry assistants are:

  • Enthusiastic and committed
  • Comfortable working in and around water, and able to climb in and out of a pool in waders without assistance
  • Capable of lifting and carrying 15 pounds up and down stairs
  • Have a keen attention to detail.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of seven online training modules and quizzes, three apprenticeship sessions and three 4-hour, general training sessions, Animal Rescue Husbandry Volunteers commit to working one four-hour shift in the morning (8:00am-12:00pm) or afternoon (12:00pm-4:00pm) every week for at least a year.

Dolphin Enrichment Specialist

Volunteers in this position assist the Marine Mammal staff with the building, implementation and interpretation of the enrichment toys and devices provided to our dolphin population. They also lend a hand in the design of these devices, as well as interact with the public to interpret the enrichment activities. Dolphin Enrichment Specialists must also maintain enrichment spreadsheets, charts and calendars per staff instructions.

Requirements

As a Dolphin Enrichment Specialist, volunteers must possess the following qualities:

  • Be reliable and team-oriented
  • Understanding of the general theory and application of environmental enrichment, animal physiology and animal behavior and operant conditioning
  • Ability to follow schedules and complete enrichment records
  • Understanding that while this position will interact closely with our dolphin population, volunteers will not be permitted to directly handle or feed the animals
  • Possess the ability to swim and feel comfortable working around animals, deep water and back-up areas.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of seven online training modules and quizzes, three apprenticeship sessions and three 4-hour, general training sessions, Dolphin Enrichment Specialists commit to working one four-hour shift every week for at least a year.

Marine Mammal Assistant

Volunteers in this position have the largest commitment of time - one full 8-hour day, once a week for at least a year. Marine Mammal Assistants are paired with a “mentor” trainer to assist in all aspects of daily dolphin duties. The mentor serves as a supervisor, although volunteers are encouraged to interact with all members of the training staff.

Requirements

For a Marine Mammal Assistant position, volunteers must possess the following qualities:

  • Be reliable and team-oriented
  • Possess the ability to swim and feel comfortable working around animals and deep water
  • Pass a microphone test
  • Preparing diets and feed buckets, which includes thawing fish, icing each bucket and transporting poolside
  • Cleaning and maintenance of exhibits and back-up areas
  • Assist with training as a second person for husbandry behaviors
  • Assist with record-keeping
  • Be able to lift 50 lbs
  • Having a practical or academic background in working with cetaceans or other marine or terrestrial mammals is preferred.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of seven online training modules and quizzes, three apprenticeship sessions and three 4-hour, general training sessions, Marine Mammal Assistants commit to working one 8-hour shift every week for at least a year.

Dolphin Observation

The Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at the National Aquarium are observed daily by our marine mammal staff. Dolphin Observation volunteers assist the staff in behavioral observations from poolside, windows or the observation pit, and medical procedures, as necessary.

Requirements

For a Dolphin Observation position, volunteers must possess the following qualities:

  • Be reliable and team-oriented
  • Possess the ability to swim and feel comfortable working around animals and deep water
  • Be comfortable in a small, enclosed space, have good visual acuity and the ability to climb up and down a 6-foot ladder
  • Understanding that observers will not have any contact or interaction with the dolphins
  • Be able to lift at least 25 lbs.

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of seven online training modules and quizzes, three apprenticeship sessions and three 4-hour, general training sessions, Dolphin Observers commit to working one 2-4 hour shift every week for at least a year. They will also be trained in the following: identification of individual dolphins, respirations, recognition of target behaviors, recognition of “abnormal” behaviors and/or distress, safety protocols and use of a “Cetacean Observation Log” and a hand-held device.

Animal Programs Assistant

Animal Programs assistants share the best of two worlds — caring for exotic birds and reptiles and speaking with Aquarium visitors about them.

A volunteer with Animal Programs works behind the scenes preparing the diets for, cleaning the enclosures of and feeding reptiles and birds of varying sizes; as well as participating in their bathing, exercise and environment enrichment. A volunteer also assists staff with the public presentation of these animals during daily scheduled encounters.

Requirements

Applicants with previous animal care experience, especially with birds and/or reptiles, are preferred. Animal Programs Assistants are:

  • Enthusiastic, reliable and team-oriented
  • Able to lift 50 pounds
  • Adept at following established rules, safety procedures and assigned tasks
  • Comfortable working around large birds and reptiles
  • 18 years of age or older

Training and Commitment

Upon acceptance, Animal Programs assistants must participate in a general volunteer training, orientation and on-the-job training. A volunteer must commit to a weekly shift: morning (8 am to 12 pm) or afternoon (1 pm to 4 pm) for at least a year.

Certified Divers

We depend on volunteer divers not only to maintain a major aquarium exhibit but also to prepare the diets and feed many of the animals with which they’ll be diving. A diver also serves as an underwater liaison between our visitors and collection animals through personal interactions and public talks.

Upon successful completion of written and in-water recruitment testing processes, a volunteer diver may serve on one of 14 Blue Wonders dive teams. (Placement depends upon availability of team openings.) Our Blue Wonders dive teams take care of the animals in the Atlantic Coral Reef, maintain the exhibit and interact with our visitors.

Requirements

All volunteer dive applicants must be 18 years of age or older and satisfy both of the following prerequisites:

  • Possess a scuba certification of Advanced Open Water or higher
  • Proof of at least 30 logged dives

Training and Commitment

Volunteer divers will be trained in safely performing the tasks necessary for their program and required to attend general volunteer orientation and training. Divers must commit to work one eight-hour shift (8:30 am to 4:30 pm) every other week on one of 14 teams.

Aquarist Assistants

If you love fish and are looking to get your hands wet, aquarist assistant is the volunteer position for you!

Aquarist assistants work behind the scenes, handling insects, fish, shrimp and squid for the feeding of the Aquarium’s animals; recording dietary data; maintaining freshwater and saltwater exhibits; using power filters; and joining in on occasional special projects. Aquarist volunteers may be found working with many of the exhibits in the main building, as well as Australia: Wild Extremes, Jellies Invasion and our Animal Care Center in Fells Point.

Requirements

Only applicants with previous fish and invertebrate animal care experience or related academic background will be considered. Aquarist assistants are:

  • Enthusiastic and committed
  • Able to climb on top of tanks
  • Capable of lifting a 35-pound bag of gravel

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training classes and a written test, volunteers commit to working at least one four-hour morning shift (8 am to 12 pm) every other week for a year.

Aviculture Assistants

Aviculture assistants care for the exotic birds in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest and Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits. While working, they sometimes speak with visitors about the animals.

Observing animals is an important service of aviculture assistants. They assist with the daily collection, preparation and distribution of food for the birds, adhering to strict dietary guidelines. They also help to maintain exhibits and behind-the-scenes housing.

Requirements

A basic knowledge of bird nutrition and physiology and a willingness to learn how to identify individual species and assess their nutritional needs is indispensable. Aviculture assistants are:

  • Able to follow recipes and handle bugs
  • Able to climb on rock ledges in a hot, humid environment
  • Capable of lifting a 35-pound bag of grain

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training classes and a written test, aviculture assistants commit to working one four-hour morning shift (7:30 am to 11:30 am) every other week for a year.

Herpetology Assistants

Herpetology assistants have the rare opportunity to work with neo-tropical frogs and lizards in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest and Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits, as well as our Animal Care Center in Fells Point.

Herpetology assistants design and create live terrariums; feed frogs, turtles and lizards; and maintain food colonies. Additional responsibilities include animal observation and maintenance of exhibit and off-exhibit animal rooms.

Requirements

A basic knowledge of the care of reptiles and amphibians is valuable. Similarly, shop skills are desirable but not essential. Herpetology assistants are:

  • Willing to work in a hot, humid environment
  • Able to handle small, delicate frogs; lizards; and live food
  • Enthusiastic about caring for reptiles and amphibians
  • Capable of lifting 35-pound terrariums

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training classes and a written test, herpetology assistants commit to working at least one four-hour morning shift (8 am to 12 pm) every other week for a year.

Horticulture Assistants

Horticulture assistants get wet and occasionally dirty, but they work when the Upland Tropical Rain Forest and Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits are at their liveliest—before they open to the public.

Watering, fertilizing, inspecting plants, caring for seedlings, controlling pests and cleaning the exhibit and backup area are the most important jobs of a horticulture assistant.

Requirements

Horticulture assistants have a basic knowledge of plants and learn about daily needs of plant specimens. Volunteers are:

  • Able to climb on rock ledges in a hot, humid environment
  • Enthusiastic about caring for plants

Training and Commitment

After successful completion of training classes and a written test, horticulture assistants commit to working at least one 2.5-hour shift (7:30 am to 10 am) in the Upland Tropical Rain Forest or one four-hour shift (8 am to 12 pm) in Australia: Wild Extremes every other week for a year.

Veterinary Preceptorship Program

The veterinary preceptorship opportunity is designed for 4th year veterinary students with an interest in aquatic and zoo animal medicine. Students spend 6-8 weeks working in the Animal Health group and are exposed to the multi-faceted nature of clinical veterinary practice in an American Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited public aquarium with over 15,000 animals.

Essential functions:

  • Assist with all aspects of animal procedures, necropsy, clinical lab, maintenance of medical records, and other duties as assigned
  • Complete a thorough retrospective or topic review
  • Work onsite with veterinary staff Monday-Saturday

Requirements

  • Must be a student in good standing enrolled in an AVMA-accredited school of veterinary medicine
  • Must have completed the first two years of basic courses and be participating in the clinical rotation components of the curriculum at their school

To Apply for this Position

Applicants must submit a letter of interest, an official transcript of veterinary school coursework, a CV, two (2) letters of recommendation, and application form. For a copy of the application form or to receive additional information, please contact registrar@aqua.org.

Volunteer Commitment and Application

To apply for a volunteer position, please review the following criteria. If you can agree to all of the below, click the "I Agree" button to access the online application.

  • I am at least 18 years old and out of high school.
  • I can make at least a one-year commitment.
  • I will attend orientation, training sessions and team meetings.
  • I will be dependable and will adhere to Aquarium policies.
  • I am willing to purchase my first uniform shirt and the Volunteer Resource Manual.
  • I understand that satisfactory completion of a standard National Aquarium background check is required.

I Agree

If you are looking for paid job opportunities, apply here instead.

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