The Aquarium is currently open to the public. In response to COVID-19, we’ve made some essential changes to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

Each year, more than 800 volunteers support the mission, animal welfare goals and daily operations of the National Aquarium as we work to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures. In fact, volunteers participate in nearly every facet of life at the Aquarium. You need not be an oceanographer or animal expert; if you meet established age requirements and are able to commit to at least one year of weekly service, the Aquarium's expert staff will train you to do the rest!

Volunteer Benefits

In exchange for their talents, enthusiasm and energy, Aquarium volunteers enjoy:

  • Professional training for your role
  • Annual membership privileges including free daily admission
  • Free garage parking for regular volunteers during volunteer shifts
  • Gift shop and cafe discounts
  • Social opportunities and official volunteer appreciation events
  • Unlimited smiles, engagement and appreciation from 1.3 million annual guests

Volunteer Opportunities Guest Service & Administrative Opportunities

Exhibit guides serve as our guest services team's front line, explaining and interpreting exhibits to visitors. After training, they are able to confidently share the science and wonder of Aquarium animals and their habitats.

Requirements:

  • A one-year commitment to volunteering for at least one 3.5-hour shift per week
  • A keen interest in biology or aquatic science, animals and their habitats, and ocean conservation
  • Successful completion of Aquarium training sessions, including a written test
  • A willingness to enthusiastically assist and patiently interact with guests from around the world
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

Information Specialists help Aquarium guests from around the world and around the corner make the most of their Aquarium visit by providing timely wayfinding and programming information while providing the exceptional level of service the Aquarium strives to deliver every day.

Requirements:

  • Commitment to at least one three-and-a-half hour shift per week for a minimum of one year
  • A willingness to enthusiastically assist and patiently interact with guests from around the world
  • Successful completion of Aquarium training sessions, including a written test, and ongoing training updates
  • A strong working knowledge of the National Aquarium's operating hours, amenities, physical layout, exhibit locations and membership privileges
  • Familiarity with other destinations and amenities throughout downtown Baltimore
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

Office Assistants are invaluable in assisting Aquarium staff with administrative duties, from filing, answering phones, mailing and scanning, to computer-related tasks and other special projects in both the main Aquarium offices and our administrative offices one block away.

Requirements:

  • Commitment to at least one three-to-four hour shift per week for a minimum of one year
  • Successful completion of seven online training modules and quizzes
  • Successful completion of Aquarium office orientation and one four-hour weekend training session
  • Basic computer skills including a working knowledge of Microsoft Office
  • An outgoing personality and professional, team-oriented demeanor
  • Conscientious work habits
  • Prompt, consistent attendance
3 People Releasing Cold-Stunned Turtles Together

Volunteer Opportunities Animal Rescue Opportunities

Animal Rescue sea turtle husbandry volunteers work with endangered sea turtle patients and contribute to the conservation of their species. Volunteers work behind the scenes preparing food, 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 gain advanced skills in husbandry techniques, administering oral medications, animal enrichment and proper handling. Opportunities for advancement will allow interested volunteers to assist with onsite and offsite medical procedures, necropsies and animal transports. Animal rescue husbandry volunteers work within the hospital pool area at the main Aquarium campus.* Previous experience in animal husbandry is helpful, but training is available.

* Quarantine protocol restrictions apply for those working or volunteering in other areas of the Aquarium.

Requirements:

  • A basic knowledge of animal husbandry and record keeping
  • Previous animal care experience or related academic background (desirable)
  • Established comfort level working in and around water, including the ability to swim
  • Ability to climb in and out of a pool in chest waders without assistance
  • Ability to lift and carry 25 pounds up and down stairs
  • Successful completion of online training modules and corresponding quizzes
  • Commitment to one four-hour volunteer shift (9 am—1 pm) per week for at least one year
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

Animal Rescue seal husbandry volunteers work behind the scenes with rescued seal patients, preparing food, feeding, cleaning, conducting daily observations, keeping records and eventually assisting with local release events for seals undergoing rehabilitation at the National Aquarium.

With continued training, volunteers will gain advanced skills in husbandry techniques, administering oral medications, animal enrichment, proper restraint and handling, and tube feeding. Opportunities for advancement will allow interested volunteers to assist with onsite and offsite medical procedures, necropsies and animal transports. Animal rescue seal husbandry volunteers will work at the National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center in downtown Baltimore.*

* Quarantine protocol restrictions apply for those working or volunteering in other areas of the Aquarium.

Requirements

  • A basic knowledge of animal husbandry and record keeping
  • Previous animal care experience or related academic background (desirable)
  • Established comfort level working with large wild animals
  • Ability to restrain a seal weighing up to 100 pounds (training provided)
  • Ability to climb in and out of elevated enclosures without assistance
  • Ability to lift and carry 50 pounds
  • Successful completion of online training modules and corresponding quizzes
  • Commitment to one three-and-a-half-hour volunteer shift per week for at least one year
  • Prompt, consistent attendance
Video Poster Caretakers Feeding a Dolphin at the Edge of a Pool

Volunteer Opportunities Marine Mammal Opportunities

Dolphin enrichment specialist volunteers assist the Aquarium's Marine Mammal staff with the design, building, implementation and interpretation of enrichment toys and devices provided to our dolphin colony for educational play. Volunteers also sometimes interact with guests and tour groups to demonstrate and explain enrichment activities.

Please note: While volunteers in this position interact closely with our dolphin population, they are not permitted to directly handle or feed the animals.

Requirements

  • A basic understanding of the theory and application of environmental enrichment, animal physiology, animal behavior and operant conditioning
  • Successful completion of online training modules and quizzes
  • Successful completion of three apprenticeship sessions and three four-hour general training sessions
  • Commitment to a minimum of one four-hour volunteer shift every week for at least one year
  • Established comfort level around deep water including the ability to swim
  • Established comfort level working with and around large animals
  • Ability to follow schedules and maintain enrichment record spreadsheets and calendars
  • Ability to patiently and enthusiastically interact with Aquarium guests
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

Each of the National Aquarium's colony of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins receives daily observation from our marine mammal staff. Dolphin observation volunteers assist the staff in making specific behavioral observations from poolside or the observation pit, and during medical procedures as necessary.

Please note: While volunteers in this position interact closely with our dolphin population, they are not permitted to directly handle or feed the animals.

Requirements

  • Successful completion of online training modules and quizzes
  • Successful completion of three apprenticeship sessions and three four-hour general training sessions
  • Commitment to a minimum of one two-to-four hour volunteer shift every week for at least one year
  • Established comfort level around deep water including the ability to swim
  • Established comfort level working around large animals
  • Established comfortable in a small, enclosed space and the ability to climb up and down a six-foot ladder
  • Excellent visual acuity
  • Ability to lift and carry 25 or more pounds
  • Ability to keep and maintain records and logs on a hand-held device
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

Marine mammal assistant volunteers will be paired with a mentor marine mammal trainer to assist in all aspects of daily dolphin duties undertaken in caring for the Aquarium's Atlantic bottlenose dolphin colony, including feeding, care, enrichment and marine mammal presentations. Volunteers should be reliable, team-oriented individuals who are able to become comfortable speaking in front of marine mammal presentation audiences.

Requirements

  • Academic background or practical experience working with cetaceans or other marine or terrestrial mammals (preferred)
  • Successful completion of online training modules and quizzes, three apprenticeship sessions and three four-hour general training sessions
  • Commitment to at least one eight-hour volunteer shift per week for at least one year
  • Established comfort level around deep water including the ability to swim
  • Established comfort level working with and around large animals
  • Ability to lift and carry 50 pounds
  • Ability to prepare feed buckets, including counting, checking and thawing fish, and icing and transporting buckets poolside
  • Ability to assist in the cleaning and maintenance of exhibit and back-up areas
  • Ability to assist with record-keeping
  • Prompt, consistent attendance
Golden lion tamarin laying on a tree branch

Volunteer Opportunities Animal Welfare and Exhibit Assistant Opportunities

Animal Programs assistants enjoy the best of two worlds—caring for exotic birds and reptiles and interacting with Aquarium guests. Animal Programs volunteers work behind the scenes cleaning the enclosures of, preparing food for and feeding reptiles and birds of varying sizes, as well as participating in their bathing, exercise and environment enrichment. Volunteers may also assist staff with the public presentation of these animals during scheduled daily encounters.

Requirements

  • Previous animal care experience, especially with birds and/or reptiles (preferred)
  • Established comfort working around large birds and reptiles
  • Commitment to at least one three- or four-hour volunteer shift per week for a minimum of one year
  • Successful completion of volunteer training program, orientation and ongoing on-the-job training
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds
  • Ability to follow established rules, safety procedures and assigned tasks
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

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 assisting in occasional special projects. Aquarist volunteers may be found working with many of the exhibits in the main building or in our Animal Care and Rescue Center nearby in downtown Baltimore.

Requirements

  • Previous fish and invertebrate animal care experience or related academic background (required)
  • Successful completion of all training classes and a written exam
  • Commitment to one or more four-hour shifts (8 am—12 pm) at least every-other week for a minimum of one year
  • Ability to lift and carry at least 35 pounds
  • Ability to climb ladders and work on top of exhibit tanks
  • Enthusiasm and willingness to learn
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

Aviculture assistants help staff care for exotic birds in the Aquarium's Upland Tropical Rain Forest and Australia: Wild Extremes exhibits, including the daily collection, preparation and distribution of food for the birds, adhering to strict dietary guidelines. They also help to make observations, maintain exhibits and behind-the-scenes animal housing. With training, aviculture assistants may sometimes interact with Aquarium guests interested in learning more about the free-flying birds in these exhibits.

Requirements

  • Basic knowledge of bird nutrition and physiology (required)
  • A willingness to learn how to identify individual species and assess nutritional needs
  • Successful completion of all training classes and a written exam
  • Commitment to one or more four-hour shifts (7:30—11:30 am) at least every-other week for a minimum of one year
  • Ability to follow recipes and handle bugs
  • Ability to climb on rock ledges
  • Ability to lift and carry 35 or more pounds
  • Established comfort level in a hot, humid environment
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

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

Requirements

  • A basic knowledge of the care of reptiles and amphibians (preferred)
  • Simple shop skills (preferred)
  • Successful completion of all training classes and a written exam
  • Commitment to one or more four-hour shifts (7:30—11:30 am) at least every-other week for a minimum of one year
  • Ability and willingness to handle small and/or delicate frogs, lizards and live food
  • Ability to lift and carry 35 or more pounds
  • Established comfort level in a hot, humid environment
  • Enthusiasm for caring for and learning about reptiles and amphibians
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

Volunteer Opportunities Certified Volunteer Scuba Divers

Volunteer divers not only maintain a major National Aquarium exhibit; they also serve as an underwater liaison between our visitors and our animals through personal interactions and public talks. Volunteer divers also assist in the preparation of the diets for and in the feeding and target training of many of the animals with which they dive in the Aquarium's stunning Blue Wonders Atlantic coral reef exhibit. Certified divers who apply to become volunteers may be placed on a waitlist until a spot on one of the Aquarium's 14 dive teams becomes available.

Requirements

  • Scuba certification of Advanced Open Water or higher
  • Proof of at least 30 logged dives
  • Successful completion of written and in-water testing
  • Successful completion of National Aquarium dive safety training
  • Successful completion of volunteer training and orientation
  • Commitment to one eight-hour volunteer shift every other week as part of one of our 14 dive teams
  • Prompt, consistent attendance

Become a Volunteer

When you volunteer at the National Aquarium, you support our mission to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures, making a positive impact on the animals in our care and over 1.3 million annual guests. In return, you receive unparalleled access to the Aquarium's animals, exhibits and programs, as well as unlimited wonder plus memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.

If you are a high-school graduate, age 18 or older, and are able to commit to one year of regular volunteer service, begin the application process today!

Please note: All applicants are subject to a standard National Aquarium background check. Minimum participation expectations, prior experience and necessary program training vary by volunteer role. Success in some roles may depend on specific physical requirements. Please see individual program descriptions on this page for position-specific information and requirements.

If you have questions, please contact the National Aquarium volunteer office at volunteer@aqua.org or 410-576-3886.

Looking for paid opportunities? Learn about our current full- and part-time job openings.

High school students hoping to gain valuable job experience while volunteering may check out our Youth Exhibit Guide Program.

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