The good news is that a biology background may not be
all that important - and while Minnesota is not
exactly the coast, there are ways you can get a start
in the right direction.
First thing to do is get a good idea of what being a
trainer is like. WhaleNet has a number of links to
websites with information, but you should also check
the web pages of the International Marine Animal
You should think about what kind of training you would
most like to do and aim for that. Trainers work for
public display facilities, for research programs, and
even in the military. If you want to do research, the
biology is far more important than if you are doing
shows. If the training is less important to you than
the husbandry (caring for, but not training the
animals) then, again, biology may be less important.
Once you have a general idea about what you want to
do, you can build up the skills you would need. For
example, if you are interested in research, biology
would be one of your skills. If you are interested in
doing shows, athletic skills and an ability to work in
front of a crowd would be a big help.
Having "animal skills" is probably most important.
And getting that experience can give you a good idea
if working with animals is what you want to do. The
Minnesota zoo has marine mammals, so being a volunteer
or intern there could give you some experience. If
you can not do that, any kind of animal experience -
preferably with large animals - is a big help. So
helping on a farm or at a vet clinic, can be a good
way to get some experience. I've worked with a lot of
staff and volunteers, and some of the best have had
little marine mammal experience to start, but all of
them had worked with animals at some point.
In any case you should get used to the idea that you
will spend most of your professional life wet and
smelling like fish.
I've never had a marine biology course either - and
look where I ended up - go figure.
--- Juliana Schroeder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
My name is Juliana Schroeder. I'm 18 years old and
I am going to graduate high school this year. I've
always wanted to be a marine mammal trainer but am
clueless about how to get started. I'm from Minnesota
so it is hard to get work experience. I'm not sure
where I am going to college yet, although I have
applied numerous places. I don't really want to get a
degree in marine biology because I took a biology
class from Minnesota State University, Mankato and it
was a little too hard for me. What do you think I
should do or where could I start? Thanks so much!
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