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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


  • 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

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.

Back to the Top