What jobs are available at the Aquarium?
Aquarium operations require a wide range of jobs, from front-line staff to animal care, to building maintenance, to finance, to fundraising, and more.
To see current job openings and submit an application, visit the National Aquarium's career center.
Can I job shadow or interview Aquarium staff?
The Aquarium receives a tremendous number of requests for job shadowing and interviews. Unfortunately, we are unable to meet the demand.
We do offer programs, such as Immersion Tours, for people to interact with our husbandry staff. Immersion Tours present a unique opportunity for personal time with certain staff, animals, and behind-the-scenes access at the Aquarium. Learn More
We also have an internship program for college students who can work 120 hours in a semester and receive college credit. Learn more about internships at our Baltimore or Washington venues.
How can I prepare for a marine science career?
For information on marine science education programs, check out BRIDGE at marine-ed.org/bridge.
More information on careers in marine science can be found at marinecareers.net.
The National Aquarium offers a number of ways for people to gain experience and lay the foundation for a fascinating and rewarding career in marine science.
Student Summer Program
Maryland high school students who have completed ninth grade and at least one biology course are invited to spend a summer learning, teaching, and having fun with other students. Community service hours are awarded. Applications are accepted in the fall, and this program fills up quickly! Learn More
Internships are a great way to get on-the-job training. The Aquarium offers unpaid internships to college students. Interns must receive college credit for their internship and complete a minimum of 120 hours of work. Learn More
Volunteering at the Aquarium requires a one-year commitment and the equivalent of four hours of work per week. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and high school graduates. Volunteers not only learn a lot, they have a lot of fun. Learn More
This opportunity is specifically designed for students with an interest in aquatic and zoo animal medicine, laboratory medicine, and environmental medicine. Students spend six to eight weeks working in the Animal Health Department and are exposed to the multifaceted nature of veterinary practice in a major aquarium. Students applying for the Veterinary Preceptorship Program must be a student in good standing enrolled in an AVMA-accredited school of veterinary medicine and must have completed the first two years of basic courses. Positions are unpaid. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and are considered as received. Inquiries may be directed to Dr. Ben Rossi.
How can I become a dolphin trainer?
To become a marine mammal trainer, we recommend you get a degree in biology, psychology, or zoology. Additionally, most of our trainers got involved first through internships or volunteer programs, either at the National Aquarium or at other facilities. You will also need SCUBA certification! Learn more about dolphin training.
How and when did the National Aquarium get its start?
BALT: The National Aquarium, Baltimore, began in the mid-1970s, when Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer and Commissioner of Housing and Community Development Robert C. Embry conceived and championed the idea of an aquarium as a vital component of Baltimore's overall Inner Harbor redevelopment.
In 1976, Baltimore City residents voted for the Aquarium on a bond referendum, and groundbreaking took place on August 8, 1978.
In November 1979, the United States Congress voted it a "National" Aquarium.
The grand opening was on August 8, 1981.
The City of Baltimore funded most of the Aquarium's $21.3 million construction cost. Other major sources include: $7.5 million from City capital funds generated by the sale of Friendship (now Baltimore-Washington International) Airport to the State of Maryland; another $7.5 million from the 1976 bond issue referendum; and $2.5 million from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Commerce Department. The private sector contributed about $1 million.
The land and the buildings are owned by the City of Baltimore.
The Aquarium is run by a nonprofit corporation, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Inc., which consists of a volunteer board of directors and larger advisory board, plus a full-time paid staff.
Under the terms of its management agreement with the City, the nonprofit corporation strives to remain self-supporting for operations.
WASH: The National Aquarium was first established in 1873 in Woods Hole, MA, as part of the Federal Fish Commission.
In 1878, The National Aquarium moved to the site of the Washington Monument, and consisted of holding ponds, known as "Babcock Lakes."
In the 1880s, the National Aquarium consisted of a hatching station and small aquarium in Central Station, located near the present National Air and Space Museum.
The Fish Commission became part of the Department of Commerce in 1903, and changed its name to the Bureau of Fisheries.
With the building of the Department of Commerce Building in 1932, the National Aquarium was incorporated into the lower level of the building.
In the 1940s, the National Aquarium came under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, when the Bureau of Fisheries became the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 1982, federal funds were eliminated from the operating budget for the National Aquarium. With the threat of closing, The National Aquarium Society was formed to keep the National Aquarium operating.
In 2003, The National Aquarium Society board of directors signed an alliance agreement with the board of directors of The National Aquarium in Baltimore, enabling the two aquariums to work together to strengthen the animal collection and educational impact of the Aquarium.
In 2004, initial planning for the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, renovation project took place, with receipt of a $573,000 grant from NOAA.
Though the National Aquarium has changed locations, it is considered the longest continuously operating aquarium in the United States.
Who was the architect for the National Aquarium, Baltimore?
The Aquarium’s original building, the Pier 3 Pavilion, was designed by Peter Chermayeff of Cambridge Seven Associates in Boston, MA. It measures 115,000 square feet and holds more than 1 million gallons of water.
The Pier 4 Pavilion is a 94,000-square-foot building designed by Grieves Associates of Baltimore, which opened to the public in December 1990. This building houses a 1.3-million-gallon pool for the Aquarium’s Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, a traveling exhibit area, and a cafe, and is linked to the main building on Pier 3 by an enclosed footbridge.
The 65,400-square-foot Glass Pavilion, which opened in December 2005, was also designed by Peter Chermayeff. It features the award-winning Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit, a 6,650-square-foot cafe, a 5,000-square-foot gift shop, and a remarkable 35-foot waterfall.
What is the Aquarium's economic impact on the region?
The National Aquarium, Baltimore, is Maryland’s largest paid tourist attraction, and the economic impact of Aquarium visitors on the State of Maryland has been tremendous. A study by the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development determined that the Aquarium annually generates nearly $220 million in revenues, 2,000 jobs, and $6.8 million in State and local taxes. The Aquarium's success has contributed to the development of more than 3,000 new hotel rooms in Baltimore.
What is the annual attendance?
BALT: More than 1.4 million visitors pass through the National Aquarium, Baltimore's doors every year.
WASH: More than 200,000 visitors pass through the National Aquarium, Washington, DC’s doors every year.
What’s the relationship between the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the National Aquarium in Washington, DC?
The National Aquarium in Baltimore was originally distinct from the National Aquarium in Washington, DC. Both used the title "National Aquarium," but the two were not affiliated.
In 2003, The National Aquarium Society Board of Directors signed an alliance agreement with the Board of Directors of The National Aquarium in Baltimore, enabling the two aquariums to work together to strengthen the animal collection and educational impact of the Aquarium. We are now one National Aquarium, with two venues.
Why is the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, located in the Department of Commerce Building?
The National Aquarium, Washington, DC, started as an outdoor exhibition of fish established in 1878 on property now known as The Mall. In 1903, the Department of Commerce and Labor was created and the Fish Commission put in its charge.
In his first annual report, President Theodore Roosevelt’s new Secretary of Commerce and Labor George B. Cortelyou called for the construction of a dedicated Department of Commerce Building and the inclusion of “...a national aquarium of such size and architectural excellence that it will be a credit to the nation.”
Groundbreaking for the Department of Commerce Building was celebrated on October 4, 1927. Blueprints had been drawn by York & Sawyer Architects, a firm most famous for the design of 1920’s skyscrapers in its native New York City. The building site at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue covered 8 acres of land over three city blocks.
President Herbert Hoover, after whom the building was renamed upon its 50th anniversary in 1982, laid the cornerstone in July of 1929. Construction was completed in January 1932. At the time, the Department of Commerce Building was the largest office building in the world, with the National Aquarium tucked into its lower level, where the Aquarium still finds its home today.
Is the National Aquarium a government entity?
No. Neither National Aquarium venue is managed or funded by the federal government. The National Aquarium Institute, which oversees both Aquarium venues, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We rely on the generosity of our donors, members, and volunteers to operate this world-class aquarium enterprise with conservation-based programs, education, and research.