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Do you want to work as an aquarium designer?

  • Read about the most important info you need to decide on following this career.
  • ​Follow the 7 points below and search for a tertiary institution near you for future studies. If you already are graduated, you may also search through our list of Jobs in the main menu.
  • If you want to PLAN the way you need to prepare, then join our community where you will learn everything, while chatting with other potential designers and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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UPDATED: 2 September 2020

1. 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.

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

2. What do they do?


Art & Design / Business / Marine Conservation / Zoos, Aquariums, Theme Parks and Museums


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.

Daily Tasks:

  • 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

Where they 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.

Average Salary:

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


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.

3. Which Skills are required?

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

​​Career Skills:

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

4. Which Subjects must I have at School?

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!

5. What will I need to Study?

Minimum Requirements:

Most Aquarium Designers work on smaller scales 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 that focus on large projects for aquariums, zoos or animal parks normally have a more advanced Bachelor’s Degree in architecture, zoology or computer-aided design (CAD) software. 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.


Focus on design or architecture, together with subjects in zoology, as well as Short Courses.


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 STEP 8 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%

6. 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 OZT in STEP 8.

Professional Associations:

7. 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.

Aquarium Designer Career_opt

8. Join the OZT community

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

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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