Careers in Ichthyology
Jason Seitz - Former Fish Collection Technician at the Florida Museum of Natural History
- How did you become interested in ichthyology?
"Put simply: fishes have always held my interest both in their mysterious ways and in their incredible adaptability."
- What training and education do you have?
Bachelor of Science in Biology, State University of New York at Brockport;
Associate of Applied Science in Fisheries Technology, SUNY at Cobleskill.
Additional graduate-level courses: Environmental Research Methodology, Scientific Writing
Advanced SCUBA Certification, Red Cross CPR/Basic First Aid, Boating Safety Certification, Cetacean Stranding and
Salvage Training, GIS/GPS Processing Hardware and Software Training, Basic Fire Training, Pesticide Application
License and Certification, Shorebird Ecology and Management Workshop"
- What personal qualities are important in this field?
"Besides a working knowledge of some aspect of fish biology, other important personal qualities include well developed
observational skills, good interpersonal skills, and diligence."
- Describe your work and research:
"In addition to my continued research on the ecology of the smalltooth sawfish, Pristis pectinata, I help
curate the FLMNH ichthyology collection."
- What skills do you use on the job?
"Fish identification, computer and database skills, familiarity with the literature, knowledge of chemicals used
in curating fishes, logistics, etc."
- What interesting discoveries have you made in your studies?
"My research on the smalltooth sawfish has revealed some interesting clues to its natural history, including
the regular use of deep water refuges for large sawfish, and clues to critical mating and birthing habitats."
- What is your typical work schedule?
"I generally work about 40 hours per week at the office or in the field. In addition, some weekends or
weekday evenings are spent working on manuscripts or presentations."
- What do you like best about your job?
"There is always something more to learn about any aspect of ichthyology, and that fact keeps me excited at my job."
- Does this profession require any travel?
"Travel is not generally required, unless it is part of your job description. Occasionally, you may attend a seminar
or go to a symposium perhaps in another state or outside the country, and you may get the chance to do field work far
away from your home. Generally speaking, if you wish to stay close to home, you can do so."
- What is the general salary range for someone in your position?
"There is a wide range of salaries in this profession. It depends on who your employer is, and whether you have a supervisory
position, can obtain lots of grant funding, how well recognized you are as a professional, etc. Starting salary may range
from $20,000 to $35,000 yearly, and may not initially offer benefits. It helps to be budget-minded, and you may need to
make some sacrifices in your pursuits during your free time."
- How long have you been an ichthyologist?
"I prefer the term Marine Biologist, since I have worked with other marine organisms besides fishes. I've been in this
general field for more than ten years."
- Is it difficult to find a job in ichthyology?
"Generally, yes. However, it pays for an individual to be relentless in his/her pursuit of this career choice, and to not
let friends or family members tell you different or stand in your way. Always listen to your heart when it comes to picking
a profession. Once your chosen path is illuminated, let nothing stand in your way. Do not give up or compromise."
- Have you ever considered a career in a different field?
"When I was in high school, I thought I could always own a pet shop specializing in aquarium fishes and reptiles, if
I didn't make it as a fish researcher. Once I entered the field of marine biology however, I knew I would stay there."
- Do you ever go fishing in your free time?
"Absolutely! I fish every chance I get. Both fresh and saltwater. Fish researchers get an added kick out of fishing:
not just is it a challenge to hook and successfully land a fish on angling tackle, but once you get it alongside the boat,
you enjoy the chance to observe the species in its natural habitat."