Aquarium Designer Career Profile

Do you want to work as an aquarium designer?

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RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

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UPDATED: 10 June 2023


What is an aquarium designer?

An aquarium designer designs and builds tanks and exhibits of fish and other sea life. The exhibits can range from small fish tanks to large aquariums.

Fisheriess 1

Those that take care of the tanks and fish are called Aquarists.

Link to the Aquarist Profile

Career Categories

The Aquarium Designer career can be found within the following OZT career categories:

  • Art & Design
  • Business
  • Marine
  • Zoos, Aquariums, Theme Parks and Museum

What does an Aquarium Designer do?

Groups of animals an Aquarium Designer works with

Mammals List Icon OZT
Fish List Icon OZT
Crustaceans List Icon OZT
Mollusks Link Icon OZT

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

With who does an Aquarium Designer work?

Besides working with all of the animals, Aquarium Designers will need to interact with other people while doing their daily tasks. The people might include fellow staff members or the public.

Fellow staff might include:

  • Supervisors/Managers
  • Operational staff, such as Human Resources, Finance and Maintenance

What does an Aquarium Designer focus on?

An Aquarium Designer focuses on designer aquarium tanks, making sure the kind and size of the tanks, as well as the plants, decorations and pumping and filtration equipment are correct for the kinds of fish.

What are the daily tasks of an Aquarium Designer?

  • Study particular fish species’ habitats for the purposes of enhancing or recreating those habitats in a controlled Environment
  • Design aquarium based on research and needs outlined by clients and species experts
  • Use different computer-aided design software
  • Write and present design proposal
  • Choose construction material, plants, landscape features and equipment
  • Prepare site for fish
  • Oversee and participate in the construction of all structures
  • Administrative duties including assisting with budget development and detailed record keeping of all activities
  • Assist keepers, biologists or aquarists with habitat management and maintenance

Working conditions of an Aquarium Designer?

Where does an Aquarium Designer work?

Environment –

Aquarium designers work mostly indoors, either in a studio where they design or draw the concept aquarium. They will also spend time on site, where the aquarium needs to be constructed.

Places of Employment –

Aquarium Designers may work for businesses that specialize in aquarium designing; be permanently employed by aquariums, marine parks, theme parks, museums and pet stores; or freelance on contract for these aquariums and parks, as well as private homes and interested businesses.

What is the average annual salary of an Aquarium Designer?

The average annual income is around $50,000 per year.

Can an Aquarium Designer be promoted?

An Aquarium Designer that works for an established business or institution, such as an aquarium can definitely be promoted.

Advancement in the field typically depends on work experience. First-year designers often fit their training commitments around the daily work demands.

The levels of each promotion might differ from organization to organization, but generally are the following:

Intern -> Junior Designer -> Senior Designer -> Manager

What kind of difficulties can an Aquarium Designer face?

A career in design and construction always includes long hours and tight deadlines. Aquarium Designers might need to oversee the entire project, making sure everything runs smoothly, and being versatile when things go wrong. They might also be required to travel long distances to finalize contracts.

Future growth and Possibilities

With growing public interest in large and interesting aquariums at home or at a specific business, or seeing fish housed in natural looking and well-designed exhibits, the prospects should be good for future growth.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills are required by an Aquarium Designer?

The skills required for a career as an aquarium designer can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship
Life Skills

Career Skills

  • Basic artistic skills
  • ​Basic customer service skills
  • Good health and physical fitness
  • Good knowledge of fish and Aquatic plants
  • Basic computer literacy
Career Skills

Which Subjects must I have at School to help prepare for this career?

These subjects are the ones recognized around the world. The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

What will I need to Study to become an Aquarium Designer?

Minimum Requirements

Most Aquarium Designers work on smaller structures by designing aquariums for private homes, businesses and pet stores. For this kind of career a minimum of High School Certificate is recommended. Most of these aquarium designers/builders get on the job training by working for established aquarium designing companies.

Aquarium Designers who focus on large projects for aquariums, zoos or animal parks normally have a more advanced Bachelor’s Degree. However, there are companies that specialize in aquarium design where the designers focus more on the overall design concept (the art or sketch side), and then use specialists, such as interior designers, architects and engineers to finish the contracts.

Study Focus


For those who want to work with larger projects, a major in in architecture is essential. Additional subjects, such as zoology may be taken.

Short Courses

Short courses in design software, such as computer-aided design (CAD) is a must.

Study Duration

The duration of most Bachelor’s Degrees is 3 years. Short Courses might be between a few weeks to a few months.

Possible Career Preparation Paths

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Possible Combined Career Paths

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternative(s):

Stepping Stone Career

Being an aquarium designer can also be used as a stepping stone career. A stepping stone career is one which is used to help you get to another career, normally because the other career is too difficult to reach (sometimes due to things like high fees etc). You can begin as an intern designer after basic short courses and expert guidance (maybe working under a mentor). The money made can then be used to pay for studies towards a promotion or another career, and the experience helps in gaining knowledge. One paying to help get to the other.

Some of the possible paths:

Training and apprenticeship

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the designing careers, most of the skills you will need will be acquired through on-the-job training. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

In some cases entry level positions (or junior positions) require training sessions even before you are allowed to actually perform your job duties. These sessions are offered by the place of employment, after you have successfully applied.

Apprenticeship is also possible where you need to learn skills from a more senior person or expert. The more hands on careers, such as designing and construction might require apprenticeship.

Join the Aquarium Designers Group in the Community to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of those entering the career

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certificate, Registration and Professional Associations

Certain animal business careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Although not required by law to design aquariums, certifications may help workers establish their credentials and enhance their skills.

Learn more about requirements by joining the Community.

Professional Associations

Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards animal care and training.

Do you want to Contribute?

Do you have information that you would like to contribute to this career?

My Story




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Join the OZT community & career Group

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming an aquarium designer.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!

If you have decided on being an Aquarium Builder, please click on the JOIN OZT button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu.

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