With so many people applying for so few positions, you need to do what you can to give your self the edge over your competition. That means you really need to get that degree and experience.
"While a college degree is not currently required, those applicants that have a degree in marine biology, animal behavior, zoology, psychology, or related fields are almost always the ones that get interviews. Also, the swim test and microphone test are critical parts of the interview process. Most people who take these tests do not pass the underwater swim portion of this test, so it is critical to practice for this." (seaworld.org)
So, it is also very important that you work on your swimming skills and improve your public speaking and performance skills; since these skills are an essential part of being a SeaWorld trainer and a big part of the interview process. When you watch the SeaWorld videos and animal shows notice how energetic, engaging, and animated the people are. You will be a performer and educator for the public as well as a trainer for the animals
It would also be good for you to join the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA).
After college, you might not be able to get a job right away as a marine animal trainer. You may have to work a different job or work with other animals till a marine animal trainer position becomes available. It might also be a good idea to do some sort of internship before applying; such as a marine mammal internship or an internship with SeaWorld's education department. An internship is a good way to get experience and it may help get your foot in the door.
This is a very hard job to get, so do whatever you can to give yourself an edge.
Associate Trainer, Trainer or Senior Trainer
Park: Sea World San Diego
Basic Job functions: Enthusiastically represents SeaWorld by displaying a positive attitude, high level of energy and commitment to quality throughout all aspects of the job. Assists the Animal Training staff in providing proper nutrition, appropriate sanitary living conditions, constant care for animals and water interaction depending on need. Principle Duties: Maintains safe and sanitary working areas and living conditions. Prepares daily animal diets, maintains safe and sanitary food preparation and storage areas. Administers animal vitamins under close supervision as required. Develops speaking skills and stage presence for performing supportive roles in education and general public shows. Assist in the training of animals. Develops an awareness of guest satisfaction with the SeaWorld product. Maintains facility pools with the use of SCUBA gear. Maintains excellent physical condition as needed to perform job functions. Required Skills Knowledge: Must be at least 18 years of age. Must have SCUBA certification at the time of applying. Must be able to lift 60 lbs. Must be able to work weekdays, holidays, and nights. Must have at least 6 months of paid animal training experience. Must pass a swim test. Theatrical experience strongly preferred. Required Training Education: Must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Degree in psychology, performing arts or theater, or marine, biological or zoological sciences is desirable. Applicants must apply via www.buschjobs.com. Please keep resume to a maximum of 2 pages including cover letter. Apply at buschjobs.com
How do I become a marine animal trainer?
The following information is SeaWorld's basic job description, requirements, and background information on an entry-level animal trainer position.
Responsible for the daily care, feeding and maintenance of show animals. Develops and trains animal behaviors and performs in animal shows for the public and educational shows for school groups. An apprenticeship period of at least a year is required for all trainer positions, even with previous experience.
Our requirements for animal trainers include:
° must be at least 18 years of age
° prior experience training animals
° public speaking, drama, or other performance and communication skills (a microphone test is part of the interview process)
° experience working with animals
° scuba diving certification
° CPR certification
° an ability to interact with the public
° academic coursework in zoology, marine biology, animal behavior or psychology (preference is given to those applicants with a college degree)
° strong swimming skills (part of the interview process is a rigorous swim test that includes a 200 ft. freestyle swim, a 100 ft. underwater swim, and a free-dive to the bottom of a 26 ft. pool.)
° excellent physical health and the ability to lift 50 lbs.
In addition, even with previous training experience, new trainers are hired as associate trainers, and learn about SeaWorld’s training methods and animals in at least a one-year apprenticeship period.
HOW TO GET EXPERIENCE
To try and see if a career in animal training or animal care is for you, SeaWorld offers a weeklong Career Camp for grades 9-12 during the summer at all three parks. Check online at SWBG-AdventureCamps.com for more information.
Many colleges and universities offer internship opportunities along with the local zoos or aquariums as part of a zoological science or similar type of degree program. Moorpark College in Southern California offers a special Exotic Animal Training and Management program designed for those who want to enter into zoological careers. In Florida, Santa Fe Community College and Pensacola Junior College offer similar programs. Volunteering at a local animal shelter, veterinarian, or wildlife rescue facility is another great way to get experience. In addition, many zoos and aquariums have docent or other volunteer positions available. It is also helpful to gain experience at the park or facility that you’re interested in working for. At SeaWorld, many of our openings for trainer and animal care positions go to applicants that have worked at the park in another department such as education - so this is a great way to get your foot in the door.
Another thing to keep in mind is when position openings are available. At SeaWorld, we have most openings for trainers and animal care in the early spring, and usually post these positions on our website (www.becjobs.com) in late winter. During this time we hold the swim tests and microphone tests as the initial parts of the interview process.
As you can imagine, we get hundreds of applicants each year for trainer positions. For killer whale trainers there may only be one or two openings each year— so this is an even more competitive area to get into. While a college degree is not currently required, those applicants that have a degree in marine biology, animal behavior, zoology, psychology, or related fields are almost always the ones that get interviews. Also, the swim test and microphone test are critical parts of the interview process. Most people who take these tests do not pass the underwater swim portion of this test, so it is critical to practice for this.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (www.aza.org) also posts career information and job openings on its website. We also have a lot more info on our website (www.swbg-animals.org) about training and other animal careers. Other great sites to check out are the websites for the International Marine Animal Training Association (www.imata.org) and the Society for Marine Mammalogy (this has an excellent section on pursuing a career in marine mammal science at
[see this site instead, for the info that marinemammalogy.org used to have] http://dolphin1.net/network/dolphinsong/strategies.htmhttp://www.swbg-animals.org/connections/shared-video/on-the-job/index.htm?vID=v5
How do I become an Animal Trainer (SeaWorld video)
Tell Me How - Dolphin Trainer
Chapter: Dolphin Dreams
...He [a trainer at SeaWorld] tells them to get scuba- and CPR-certified, to join the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA), and to get a college degree. In interviews, he tells them, don't say you only want to work with dolphins. You may have to work with sea otters, even walruses, to get your foot in the door. Don't mention any spiritual connections you might have with cetaceans. "If someone says in an interview, 'I was a dolphin in a previous life,' uh, they're out of here," he says. Give yourself any edge you can, because "everyone wants to be a dolphin trainer. They'll kill you for it."...
For more info, including colleges and internships, see:
How do you become a killer whale or dolphin trainer?