Becoming a Fish Doctor
By Eric Hammer
Becoming a fish doctor, or as they are officially known, an
aquaculture veterinarian, will require quite a bit of effort
on your part. Like an ordinary veterinarian, a fish doctor must
also go through veterinary school in order to achieve his or
However, relatively few schools actually offer a specialty
in aquaculture (literally, it means fish farming, though all
veterinarians who work with fish, both pets and farmed fish are
called aquaculture veterinarians. Those who work with wild fish
however are generally marine biologists rather than veterinarians).
If the school you plan on attending does not offer a specialty
in aquaculture veterinary medicine, your options are to instead
go to a regular university and study marine biology or to take
additional coursework to learn what you'll need to know in order
to be a fish doctor.
How Much Can You Make?
According to Job Monkey, initial salaries for aquaculture
veterinarians start between $50,000 and $90,000 per year. However,
this number is a little bit difficult to rely on only because
of the fact that the entire discipline is a fairly new one.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Remember that working as a fish doctor, you will be in largely
uncharted territory. Traditionally, fish were cared for by fish
farmers or pet store attendants who would add various medications
to the water in order to take care of the fish when they got
However, given the increasing prevalence of fish farming,
many fish farmers are now hiring professional veterinarians who
both have more training in working with fish and who are legally
able to prescribe certain drugs to the fish which they themselves
Another area where you may want to consider working is with
high end pet fish. Average consumers simply buy whatever the
pet store attendant recommends when the goldfish is looking sick
(and if it dies, the fish is simply flushed down the toilet and
replaced with a new one). High end fish owners by comparison
will actually pay for professionals to come in and care for their
fish. In this case, you could conceivably work with both groups
of people by running your own independent practice rather than
working for someone.
Qualifications / Requirements
You will need at least a degree from a veterinary school with
a specialty in aquaculture. However, advanced degrees are generally
not required unless you plan to go into research in which case,
masters degrees and a PhD are highly recommended (though in that
case, you move into being a marine biologist rather than a fish
Start by looking for a veterinary school that offers a specialty
in aquaculture medicine. While it is certainly possible to attend
an ordinary school and then take the required courses for being
a fish doctor on the side from the school's other divisions or
from a different school, it's best to get it all in one unified
program if you can.
Check out these helpful resources to find out more about becoming
a fish doctor (aka aquaculture veterinarian):
Job Monkey: Aquaculture Veterinarians - This
is another profile of the job with some good additional information.
Aquaculture for Veterinarians, by L. Brown Butterworth-Heinemmann
- While it is a little old, this book includes a lot of good
information on being a fish doctor.