Updated: Friday, October 11, 2019

Volunteer Information and Interview Sessions

We ask that all applicants attend one of the following sessions:

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2020
    7–8:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, February 22, 2020
    9–10:30 a.m.

Aquarium Guide

Seasonal Volunteer Guide

Join the Aquarium Guide program and share the Monterey Bay Aquarium's mission to inspire conservation of the ocean. As a Seasonal Volunteer Guide, you'll explore and share the ocean and Aquarium exhibits with our guests.


Seasonal Volunteer Guides stand at various exhibits throughout the Aquarium on a four-hour shift per week or five-hour shift every other weekend. Guides handle live animals and plants in cold water touch pools and should be able to communicate effectively in large and small groups. Guides interact with multicultural and multilingual guests in a respectful and engaging manner. Volunteers must be age 18 and older. If you're under age 18, please check out our Teen Programs.

Length of Time Commitment

Six months of regular volunteering (once per week on weekdays or every other weekend) is required. We encourage new volunteers joining our program to commit to one year or more of volunteering to experience all the Aquarium Guide program has to offer. Initially, new volunteers joining the program will focus on learning key exhibits and then add to their knowledge banks by completing additional training.

Recruitment Information

Recruitment for the Aquarium Guide program is now open. Please note there is an application, interview and training process. After submitting an application, we ask all applicants to attend an information and interview session on Tuesday, February 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. or Saturday, February 22 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. inside the Aquarium Auditorium. Please enter through the Main Entrance. We also ask that applicants selected for the program attend three evenings of mandatory onsite training on March 8, 10, and 16 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Following training, volunteers are scheduled to immediately begin serving on shifts and are required to complete three additional training sessions during their shifts.

If you're interested in becoming a Seasonal Volunteer Guide, please complete our Volunteer Guide Program Application.

Apply now

Conservation Associate

Join us as a Conservation Associate to to help guests understand ocean conservation issues related to our exhibits — while building skills and capacity to create meaningful change.


Volunteers will be stationed at exhibits where you will engage guests in conversation, using research-tested communication strategies to help foster understanding, hope and capacity for action around the issues of climate change, ocean acidification, ocean plastics pollution and sustainable seafood. Volunteers should be able to communicate effectively in large and small groups and be able to interact with multicultural and multilingual guests in a respectful and engaging manner. Volunteers must be age 18 and older. If you're under age 18, please check out our Teen Programs.

Length of Time Commitment

A minimum eight hours per month spent interpreting to guests is required, along with up to seven hours per month of continuing education, averaging 3.75 hours a week. Scheduling of volunteer time is flexible and self-directed, as well as most of the continuing education time. Must be able to commit to volunteering for a minimum of nine months.

Recruitment Information

Recruitment for the Conservation Associate program is now closed. There will be another round of recruitment in February 2020.

Animal Care

Aviculture Volunteer

As an aviculture volunteer, you'll assist with the care of the live bird collection and exhibits starting in the Aviary with our shorebird collection. Duties include food preparation (live food items such as worms and crickets) and distribution, scrubbing and cleaning of exhibits, food prep areas and service areas, and bird observations and record-keeping.


Aviculture volunteers assist once a week for a four-hour period from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Volunteers handle live food items and conduct physical duties involved with exhibit care, which may involve lifting, carrying, and going up and down stairs. Volunteers need to be able to perform the physical tasks of the role and able to comfortably handle live food items. Volunteers must be age 18 and older and be able to meet the 80 percent attendance requirement.

Length of Time Commitment

Due to the level of training involved, we ask all aviculture volunteers to commit to a minimum of one year. We stress the importance of the time commitment for this program. Applicants must be located a reasonable commuting distance from the Aquarium. There is an application and interview process for this position.

Recruitment Information

Online applications are accepted once a year into a candidate pool that is used to fill openings on an as-needed basis. As positions open, we review applications for day of availability and animal group of interest and then begin a recruitment process beginning with interviews. Please note that applying online does not guarantee a position. Applicants must re-apply each year to be included in the candidate pool for the current year.

Food Room Volunteer

The food room is the heart and hub of animal care at the Aquarium. It is a highly active work space with a variety of departments utilizing its services and products. Volunteers in the food room assist the Aquarium's food room technicians with the preparation of daily animal menus and food items. Volunteers also assist in the general upkeep of the food room according to regulations set forth by the USDA and other regulatory agencies.


Ability to prepare food items including chopping, weighing, and processing fresh and frozen fish and shellfish. Daily cleaning of the animal food room sinks, refrigerators, floors and dishes. Ability to stand for long periods (one four-hour shift with a break) while preparing food and operating food prep equipment such as knives, blenders, scales, etc. Some lifting required (~40lbs). Ability to assist with food pulls from the walk-in freezer. The weekly shift is from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Length of Time Commitment

One four-hour shift per week with a one-year commitment.

Recruitment Information

The application process is opened on an as-needed basis. Applicants must be located a reasonable commuting distance from the Aquarium. Applications will be reviewed and those that are strong matches for the position will be selected for interviews. There is an application and interview process prior to selection. There are on-boarding and training requirements following selection.

Gallery Volunteer

Gallery volunteers assist with the care and feeding of the Aquarium's live invertebrate and fish collection and living exhibit maintenance. The animal care team operates within high standards of animal care and exhibit maintenance. Volunteers are assigned to a specific gallery and assist the aquarists in that area to clean exhibits and holding tanks, prepare and feed animals, and conduct duties related to maintenance of the life support systems.


The gallery volunteer shift is one day a week from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. This is a physically demanding role. In order to access and clean exhibits, you be required to climb up and down ladders, use step stools, and work at odd angles and in challenging positions. Duties may also include carrying and manipulating buckets filled with seawater and animal food products. The work environment may include wet floors, low overhead work spaces and dark service areas. Ability to meet the time commitment and 80 percent attendance are required.

Length of Time Commitment

The commitment is for one four-hour shift every week for one year.

Recruitment Information

Applications are accepted on an as-needed basis throughout the year. Applicants are placed in a candidate pool based on their days of availability. When a position opens, strong candidates will be selected for interviews. Please note, applying does not guarantee a position within that year. There is an application and interview process prior to selection. There are on-boarding and training requirements following selection.

To apply for any of the above listed Animal Care openings, please fill out the Animal Care Volunteer Application and indicate which opportunity you are interested in.

Apply now

Sea Otter Program

Otter Care Volunteer

The Sea Otter Program, which focuses on research and conservation for the threatened southern sea otter, accepts preliminary applications year-round and takes volunteers on an as-needed basis. Volunteers accepted into the program as Otter Care Volunteers will assist the Aquarium's sea otter research and conservation program with the care for and release of abandoned, ill or injured sea otters.


Volunteers serve on weekly shifts for 5.5 hours. Because of the nature of the program, we're looking for volunteers that are comfortable working in cold/wet environments, outdoors and independently, and will carefully observe and follow all protocols for the position. Volunteers must be age 18 and older.

Length of Time Commitment

Due to the level of training involved, we require volunteers to commit to at least one year of service. Otter Care Volunteers have periodic classroom trainings on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Availability for these trainings is also required.

We're no longer accepting Otter Care Volunteer applications at this time.

Diver Opportunities

Volunteer Diver

The volunteer dive teams' primary responsibility is to help maintain the Aquarium's exhibits including Monterey Bay Habitats, Kelp Forest and Sea Otters. These dives consist mainly of animal evaluation, window cleaning, bottom-siphoning and feeding.


Volunteer Divers are assigned to at least one recurring maintenance shift every other week. The maintenance shifts occur on Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesdays from 8 to 10:30 a.m., Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 8 to 10:30 a.m., and Saturdays from 9 to 11 a.m. Due to the popularity of this program, we have an exceptionally large applicant pool. Generally, we review the applications with location, availability and diving experience as the leading indicators. We also require all of our divers to be trained through Advanced and Rescue Diver, have current CPR/O2/FA/AED certifications, as well as have a minimum of 20 cold-water dives before entering the program.

Volunteer diving at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) is under the guidelines of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) and the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). These governing bodies set standards for Scientific and Occupational Diving in the United States and California, respectively. Applicants must meet the following certification requirements in order to apply for Volunteer Diver certification at MBA:

Current Certifications: CPR, FA, AED and O2 provider certifications. Photocopies of your current certification cards or equivalent must be provided.

Diving Physical Examination: Applicants must pass an occupational diving physical. This is an extensive physical that goes beyond a routine physical; proper physical conditioning is required. This physical is paid for by the Aquarium (excluding any additional testing deemed necessary by our Diving Physician).

Minimum Age: Applicants must be age 18 and older to apply for MBA diving certification.

Minimum Dive Experience: Applicants must be Open Water, Advanced and Rescue certified from a nationally recognized scuba agency (or equivalent) and produce dive logs that document experience of at least 20 dives in Monterey Bay or similar cold-water environments within the last five years.

Equipment Requirements and Inspection: Each applicant must provide his/her own mask, snorkel, dive weights and thermal protection. The Dive Office will inspect all equipment to ensure it meets MBA standards before use in any Aquarium diving activities. All other equipment will be provided by the Aquarium.

Swimming Evaluation: Applicants must successfully perform in swimming tests in the presence of the Dive Safety Officer (DSO), or an examiner approved by the DSO.

Scuba Evaluation: All applicants will be evaluated in the presence and to the satisfaction of the DSO, or an examiner approved by the DSO prior to becoming a Volunteer Diver. All skills shall be performed in scuba diving gear appropriate to the conditions found in Monterey Bay.

Knowledge Development: Applicants must complete assigned training modules in a timely manner. Knowledge reviews will cover topics including, but not limited to, diving safety and planning, equipment, physics and physiology, emergency rescue procedures and MBA diving standards and procedures. Minimum passing score for all assessments is 80 percent.

Length of Time Commitment

We ask all Volunteer Divers to commit to a minimum of one year. Due to the extensive time commitment for this program, which is difficult to maintain if you don't live in the area, we ask that Volunteer Divers live within 45 minutes of the Aquarium. A dive team performs duties every other week with each diver committing to a minimum of 24 dives annually.

We're no longer accepting Volunteer Diver applications at this time.