Volunteers help keep us afloat.
As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, we cannot thank our eager, excited and dedicated volunteers enough for their tireless efforts in supporting the Aquarium. Our Volunteer Program is made up of 350+ diverse, enthusiastic individuals. We offer many different positions for volunteers, including engaging with our guests in Education or working behind the scenes in Husbandry.
Volunteering is an opportunity to join a community of individuals that are passionate about conservation, education and hospitality. Our volunteers enjoy a rewarding experience and many benefits.
- Recognition and award pins
- Aquarium membership and complimentary tickets at certain milestones
- Field trips and ongoing educational opportunities
- Social gatherings and recognition events at the Aquarium
- Free parking during volunteer shifts
- Opportunity to be a part of the behind-the-scenes operations!
- Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age to participate in the adult program. Students and individuals under 18 years of age who are interested in volunteer and other opportunities, please click here.
- All husbandry volunteers must be agile and able to lift 50 lbs.
- Other requirements include: attending a mandatory orientation, passing a background check and paying a refundable deposit
- Generally, volunteers must be able to work at least one shift every week for a year. Shift days and times vary.
In Education, you can volunteer as an Exhibit Guide, a Structured School Programs Volunteer or a Visitor Center Ambassador.
- Exhibit Guides are the volunteers on the floor, engaging with guests. They serve as Aquarium ambassadors and interpret exhibits for visitors. Exhibit Guides convey the theme of the Aquarium with special emphasis on fun, education, and conservation messages. During a shift, they may spend time at the Touch Tank, in Shark Shallows, at the Trading Post, at a cart, in the Saltmarsh, handling animals (snakes, alligators, or turtles), giving Behind-the-Scenes Tours and more.
- Exhibit Guides must be outgoing and enjoy engaging with the public, work well with and handle animals, be patient, have excellent verbal communication skills, be flexible and have a sense of humor. In addition to general requirements, Exhibit Guides must be eager to learn, be prepared for on-the-job training and attend additional training with Education staff, as assigned or as required for specific gallery activities.
- Commitment: Must be able to work either at least one, 4.5-hour shift (8:30am-1pm or 12:30-5pm) each week for one year or one 3- or 3.5-hour shift (8:30am-12pm, 11:30am-2:30pm, or 2-5pm) every other weekend for one year.
STRUCTURED SCHOOL PROGRAM (SSP) VOLUNTEER
- SSP Volunteers act as educators to groups of K-12 students visiting the Aquarium from across the state. SSP Volunteers work with the SSP Manager and SSP Instructors to teach high-quality, standards-based and conservation-oriented education programs at learning stations and act as Aquarium teachers and ambassadors to groups of students during class visits.
- SSP Volunteers must enjoy working with a wide variety of students in grades K-12, enjoy engaging with the public, be patient, have excellent verbal communication skills, be flexible and have a sense of humor. In addition to general requirements, SSP Volunteers must complete the orientation class and training in the South Carolina Aquarium curriculum provided in September and must attend additional training with Education staff, as assigned. Individuals are encouraged to apply to the adult volunteer program by May 2017 to be considered for the 2017-2018 school year.
- Commitment: Must be able to work at least one, 3- or 3.5-hour weekday morning shift (9:30am-12:30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or 9:30am-1pm on Tuesday and Thursday) each week for one school year, September through May.
VISITOR CENTER AMBASSADOR
- Visitor Center Ambassadors staff the Aquarium exhibit at the Visitors Center. They talk to visitors about the Aquarium, ask visitors to visit the Aquarium, stock the card rack, report any problems with the exhibit and hand out printed material.
- Visitor Center Ambassadors must have a good overall knowledge of the Aquarium, be knowledgeable of the Charleston community, enjoy actively engaging with the public, have excellent oral communication skills and be outgoing and persuasive. In addition to general requirements, Visitor Center Ambassadors must shadow an Exhibit Guide for at least three shifts and must attend additional training with Education staff, as assigned.
- Commitment: Must be able to work at least one, 3-hour shift each week for one year.
In Husbandry, you can volunteer as a Husbandry Assistant in one of the various positions, a Diver or a Sea Turtle Hospital Volunteer.
- Husbandry Assistants may work in any one of the following areas: aquatics, aviculture, herpetology, horticulture, mammals or water quality. These volunteers work closely/directly with their supervisors. Job descriptions and openings vary.
- Husbandry Assistants help with the maintenance of the Aquarium’s collection, exhibits and backup areas. They help with daily food preparation, feeding animals, cleaning tanks and habitats, inventorying and stocking food supply, animal observation, record keeping, general maintenance and special projects. (Horticulture Assistants help with watering, plant inspections and current projects. Water Quality Lab Assistants help in the testing of the freshwater and saltwater in all aquatic exhibits.)
- Husbandry Assistants must have prior animal care experience (home aquaria, pets, etc.), be willing to get wet and handle fish, shrimp, squid, etc. to be used for food, be able to follow recipes and handle insects, be willing to learn more about animal and tank care independently, be able to stand for extended periods of time and be able to keep meticulous records. They should have an interest in the animal species of South Carolina. (Horticulture Assistants must be comfortable working in typical gardening situations, including hot, cold, humid and wet conditions, whether on site or at the nursery. Water Quality Lab Assistants must be willing to learn about Aquarium systems and individual exhibit testing techniques.) In addition to general requirements, Husbandry Assistants must complete additional training with Husbandry staff, as assigned or as required.
- Commitment: Husbandry Assistants must be able to work at least one, 3- or 4-hour morning shift each week for one year.
- Divers help with the maintenance of the Great Ocean Tank. They prepare food for dives, help to feed the animals, help to maintain exhibit tanks, backup areas, and equipment, interact with visitors to educate them about the animals and their ecosystems and offer general help as needed upon request of the Life Support and/or Aquarist staff.
- Divers must have Advanced Open Water SCUBA Certification or the equivalent and work well in a team-oriented environment. In addition to general requirements, divers must complete the Aquarium diver certification program, which includes an “in-water” skills test and an apprenticeship with experienced divers.
- Commitment: Divers must be able to work at least two, 8-hour shifts (8am-4pm) each month for one year.
SEA TURTLE HOSPITAL VOLUNTEER
- Sea Turtle Hospital Volunteers help with the care and maintenance of the Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital patients and facility. They help with diet preparation and feeding, record daily observations, offer environmental enrichment, give educational tours of the hospital, assist with the medical care of patients, maintain holding tanks and hospital equipment, keep detailed records and log books and assist in miscellaneous projects.
- Sea Turtle Hospital Volunteers must be able to work independently, demonstrate initiative, be detail-oriented, have good record keeping skills, be comfortable engaging the general public during tours, have an interest in sea turtles and be conservation-oriented. In addition to general requirements, Sea Turtle Hospital Volunteers must complete additional training with Husbandry staff, as assigned and as required.
- Commitment: Sea Turtle Hospital Volunteers must be able to work at least one, 4-hour shift each week for one year. Also, they must be flexible willing to work longer and/or flexible hours as needed.
- Please Note: Volunteer positions in the Sea Turtle Hospital are strongly coveted, so there is a lengthy wait list for openings. If you indicate an interest on your application, your name will be placed on that wait list. We do try, though, to fill an opening first from our roster of current, active volunteers. When a match there is not possible, then we look to applicants who have not yet come on board as volunteers. We have no way of knowing how long the wait will be. We have strong retention in our Volunteer Program, especially in our Sea Turtle Hospital. It could be a couple of months to a couple of years.
Upcoming Orientation Dates
Sunday, November 6, 2016
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Upcoming Dive Orientations and Training Dates
Saturday, January 7, 2017 – Sunday, January 8, 2017
Saturday, March 11, 2017 – Sunday, March 12, 2017
Saturday, May 20, 2017 – Sunday, May 21, 2017
Saturday, August 26, 2017 – Sunday, August 27, 2017
Divers must attend one of the scheduled orientation and training sessions. We do not offer individual dive orientation and training.
PLEASE NOTE: The application link below is for our adult volunteer program. The adult volunteer program begins at 18 years of age. If you are a student and/or under 18 years of age, please visit our student page for more information on our various programs and internships.