"Internships are the key. Social skills and the ability to interact with people and work in a group setting are definitely important. For almost any marine biologist, I would say get your SCUBA certification. Figure out what aspect of marine biology you want to pursue, because each one has its own individual career path. Keep volunteering and working in the field. In school, take the classes you think you can use, not just ones you have to take."
Meet Bryan Banks
Whether he's collecting animals or caring for them behind the scenes, Bryan gets lots of hands-on contact with a wide variety of ocean creatures! Every six months, he cares for a different exhibit in the aquarium, making sure the animals are healthy and the exhibit is neat and tidy for the public to see.
Right now, he is in charge of the Plankton Lab exhibit. He shows up to work at about 7:30 in the morning to go out and collect plankton with a tow net.
Bryan then takes the plankton into the lab and uses a microscope to sort out the different kinds of animals into separate containers for the public to view during their visit.
How did you land a job here?
"I remember before I could pronounce 'marine biologist' I said I wanted to be a SCUBA diver when I grew up."
Bryan went to college at the University of California, Santa Barbara. There, he took classes that he thought would help him land a job in the marine science field, and he was also involved in the research dive program.
Throughout high school and college, Bryan did a number of internships here at the aquarium. He spent one summer as a volunteer student guide, another as a tide pool diver and two more as an aquarist intern.
While attending college in Santa Barbara, he volunteered for a surf grass lab, worked for a collector, cleaned tanks and went diving near offshore oil-rigs to take surveys of fish populations.
"I enjoy working with the people here because they're all really dedicated to the marine environment, and we have a common goal of conservation."
"Probably what I enjoy least is cleaning tanks. The scrubbing is a tedious task...but it's necessary and not that bad. It's rewarding to see the nice clean tank and two hours later, see the public enjoying the exhibit."