Whales, dolphins and porpoises are collectively called cetaceans. A whale biologist therefore is often referred to as a cetologist.
Here are a few frequently asked questions. Try doing a search on in the internet for ‘whale research careers’ and ‘whale biologist jobs’ to give you some ideas of what you may need in the way of skills.
If you are considering volunteering with the Orca Research Trust, be sure to check out the information and availability in our Volunteers section (under ‘Help Us’) and read all that information before contacting us.
How do I become a whale biologist and study orca?
You can choose two main paths – the academic path – where you study at university or similar and then take a job as a cetologist or you can being by volunteering and working your way into the job as you go. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The main thing to remember, no matter which method you choose is that you will be working long and hard hours for very little (if any) pay. The job of a cetologist might look very glamorous on the surface, but the reality is that you need to be dedicated and committed to hard work and the animals.
The Orca Research Trust STRONGLY disagrees with careers associated with cetaceans in captivity. Despite the clever marketing of the captivity industry we believe that there is no longer a role to be played by keeping these sentient beings in concrete tanks and we do not endorse people to seek work or volunteer positions with these facilities.
What kind of university / college courses should I take to be a cetologist?
If you choose to follow the academic path to become a cetologist you will need a wide range of knowledge. Ideally this will start from when you are still in high school and progress through college and/or university. However, some adult students turn to being a cetologist after they have already completed another degree. Regardless, it is good to have a strong focus in science courses, including biology, chemistry, ecology, fish biology, zoology, and conservation courses. Having a strong computer science and mathematics background is important as well. Courses in statistics are critical to study in this field. It will take a minimum of four years to get your Bachelor of Science degree and 2 – 6 more years to get your Masters and/or further study for your Doctoral degree.
If your path leads you towards academic study it is still very important that you build up skills which you will need when you finally begin to do your own field and/or lab work. See the section on ‘field based careers’ for more information.
See on www.orcaresearch.org