Best Job Ever - Animal Trainer

So you want to be a dolphin trainer?

Training is fun with a purpose, made possible by special relationships built on mutual trust and respect. Dolphin trainers are skilled professionals with brains almost as big as their hearts!

As experts in the biological and behavioral sciences, the trainers at Dolphin Connection have extensive experience and knowledge that continues to develop for a lifetime. To be considered, an applicant must have a college degree, be a good swimmer, be SCUBA certified, have public speaking experience, and have valuable hands-on volunteer experiences at zoos, aquariums, veterinary clinics or farms.

Once hired, staff members progress through years of advanced training including required reading and even written tests. Professional development opportunities include participation in professional conferences, wild research projects, and trainer exchanges with other zoos and aquariums.

Working with animals is never a part time job. We are needed at night, during holidays and on weekends. Only the most passionate and dedicated people are cut out for this job!

How does dolphin training work?

Daily training, learning and play stimulate, challenge and enrich our dolphins’ lives and allow them to voluntarily participate in their medical check-ups. Watch for husbandry behaviors which we practice to make veterinary care easy. See a trainer petting a dolphin’s tail fluke? This is practice for the blood draw behavior that allows us collect blood samples. See guests rubbing a dolphin’s side? This behavior allows us to regularly complete ultrasound exams. See if you can spot other trained behaviors that allow us to take care of the dolphins!

Three Essential Tools for Training:

  • Hand motions request a specific behavior.
  • The high pitched whistle means “Great Job!”
  • The dolphins are reinforced with fish, ice, gelatin cubes, toys and play time with their trainers.

Variety makes time with the trainers exciting and fun!

Marine mammal resources and career information

Dolphin Connection is proud to be an accredited member of various professional organizations, and holds individual memberships in countless associations. To find out more about career opportunities with marine mammals in zoos and aquariums, we recommend a visit to the following websites:

ALLIANCE - - The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums is an international association of marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities and professional organizations dedicated to the highest standards of care for marine mammals and to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific study and wildlife presentations.

IMATA - - The International Marine Animal Trainers Association provides opportunities through which marine animal trainers can exchange current knowledge, research and other information.

Aquatic Mammals - - Aquatic Mammals is a peer reviewed journal which features interviews by prominent marine mammal scientists who offer advice to students interested in pursuing a career studying marine mammals.

In addition to these accreditations, Dolphin Connection—and all marine mammal facilities in this country—is monitored and thoroughly inspected by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This governmental agency is responsible for, among other things, administering the Animal Welfare Act. Random surprise inspections throughout the year ensure that animals in U.S. zoos and aquariums are properly cared for.

I'm still a kid. What can I be doing now to prepare?

It’s never too early to start preparing for the best job in the world!

Most zoos, aquariums and nature centers offer camps and after school programs. Take advantage of these and learn all you can learn about wildlife. As you get older, some of these programs may even focus on the care and training of the animals. When you can’t participate in these great classes, you can teach yourself by reading all the great information you can find.

If you want to work with animals in the water, then you need to be a strong swimmer yourself. Swimming lessons and, when you’re old enough, diving lessons, are a great idea!

Do you love animals enough to tell everyone about them? If so, teaching your friends and family what you know will be a great way to practice your public speaking skills.

Of course, you need to have some experience taking care of animals too. Do you take responsibility for your pets? Is there a local vet clinic or adoption facility that needs your help cleaning kennels or walking dogs? You might be exactly who they’re looking for!

Dolphin Connection has received multiple international awards recognizing us as leaders in the field of marine mammal care, training, breeding and education.


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