Careers in Ichthyology
Robert Buch - Former Assistant Data Manager, International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History
- How did you become interested in ichthyology?
I became interested in the marine world when I was doing my certification dives for my SCUBA certification (16 years ago). I became interested in ichthyology as a career when I took an Oceanography course in college.
- What training and education do you have?
I have a B.S. in Zoology and an M.S. in Marine Science.
- What personal qualities are important in this field?
I think that it is important to be able to work well with others. Much of the field involves collaboration and working with other scientists. I think it is important to be relentless in your approach to your studies. Opportunities and money are very difficult to come by, so it's important to really "stick with it". It is also important to be able to juggle a couple of different things at once, or multitask.
- Describe your work and research:
My current work entails assisting in the management of the International Shark Attack File.
My graduate research dealt with the systematics (specifically the taxonomy) of a deep-sea shark.
- What skills do you use on the job?
A skill which I've noticed is important in all the jobs I've had in this field (including this one) is organization. It's important to be able to work well with others. It's important to be resourceful, diligent, focused, and flexible.
- What interesting discoveries have you made in your studies?
I discovered a new species of deep-sea shark.
- What is your typical work schedule?
My typical work schedule is 8-5 M-F in the lab/office.
- What do you like best about your job?
The people. I'm surrounded by so many intelligent and interesting co-workers.
I also really enjoy the subject of my work. I think it's important to do for a living (M-F) what you want to do as a hobby on your days off.
- Does this profession require any travel?
Some jobs in the profession can require quite a bit of travel. My current position requires no travel.
- What is the general salary range for someone in your position?
Positions such as this can expect to earn 20-30K. This depends heavily on education and the type of institution you work for.
- How long have you been an ichthyologist?
I began my education as an ichthyologist as an intern (at Mote Marine Lab) about 10 years ago.
- Is it difficult to find a job in ichthyology?
I think so. A lot of it depends on your connections within the field and your flexibility with regards to relocation. But there seem to be a lot more marine biologists than there are marine biology jobs.
- Have you ever considered a career in a different field?
As an undergraduate I considered a career in medicine.
- Do you ever go fishing in your free time?
I don't fish much anymore (I used to fish quite a bit).