Volunteers help keep us afloat.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we cannot thank our eager, excited and dedicated volunteers enough for their tireless efforts in supporting the Aquarium. Our volunteer force is made up of 350+ diverse, enthusiastic individuals. We offer many different opportunities for volunteers, including our Anchor Volunteer Program for applicants 18 or older, with select positions available for applicants who are 16 and 17, and various student programs, like internships, job shadow days and our Splash Program. Anchor Volunteers may engage with our guests in education, work behind the scenes in animal care or out in the field with conservation.

Total Hours of Volunteer Service: 800,651


Why Volunteer?

Volunteering at the South Carolina Aquarium 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.

  • Aquarium membership and complimentary tickets at certain milestones
  • Field trips and ongoing educational opportunities
  • Opportunity to be a part of the behind-the-scenes operations
  • Social gatherings and recognition events at the Aquarium
  • Recognition and award pins for service
  • Typically, volunteers must be at least 18 years of age to participate in the Anchor Volunteer Program (select positions are available to those 16 or 17 years of age)
  • Students under 18 who are interested in volunteering and other opportunities can also check out our Job Shadow Program, Splash Program or High School Intern Program
  • All volunteers must participate in a mandatory orientation and various trainings
  • Volunteers who are 18 or older must pass a background check
  • We ask our volunteers to commit to at least one year
  • Generally, volunteers must be able to work at least one consistent shift every week
  • Shift days and times vary, but an assigned shift will be the same day at the same time every week
Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to our most frequently asked questions before applying by clicking here.

Anchor Volunteer Program Positions

Conservation Assistant and Conservation Assistant Lead

Conservation assistants and conservation assistant leads can be found throughout South Carolina, helping to expand the Aquarium’s conservation reach into communities statewide. They contribute to the South Carolina Aquarium Citizen Science app and help recruit and organize citizen scientists across the Lowcountry and beyond. Conservation assistant and conservation assistant leads must:

  • Have an excellent understanding of the Aquarium’s conservation efforts, including reducing plastic pollution, sea turtle rehabilitation and empowering citizen scientists
  • Conduct and organize litter sweeps in their communities, both on their own and with groups. They may also be asked to participate in outreach events such as festivals and conservation events in their area.
  • Be self-motivated and independent individuals with a passion for protecting the natural world
  • Be engaging and eager to further the Aquarium’s vision of connecting people to water, wildlife and wild places
  • Make a one-year commitment to one of two volunteer levels within the conservation department and be in regular communication with conservation staff regarding their work and volunteer hours
    • Conservation assistants must be able to volunteer at a minimum of two litter sweeps per month, either on their own or with Aquarium-led groups.
    • Conservation assistant leads must regularly volunteer for four hours per week providing a higher level of support to the Aquarium’s conservation department. Activities include, but are not limited to, conducting and assisting in litter sweeps and logging valuable data, such as plastic pollution, flooding events, saltmarsh die-off and beach erosion in the South Carolina Aquarium Citizen Science app.

Apply Today

In education, you can volunteer as an exhibit guide or a Dominion Energy School Programs volunteer.

Exhibit Guide

Exhibit guides are the volunteers on the floor, engaging with guests, serving as Aquarium ambassadors and interpreting 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, Shallows, Trading Post, education carts, Saltmarsh Aviary, giving behind-the-scenes tours and more. Exhibit guides must:

  • Work well with and be comfortable handling animals
  • Be outgoing and enjoy engaging with the public, be patient, have excellent verbal communication skills, be flexible and have a sense of humor
  • 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
  • Attend one mandatory volunteer orientation, held on these Saturdays: January 20, March 23, August 17, and October 12. (Dates are subject to change.) Orientations begin at 9 a.m. and finish at approximately 1 p.m. In advance of each session, we conduct interviews, and those whom we believe will be the strongest matches for roles as Exhibit Guides will be invited to join us at the next orientation.
  • Attend mandatory volunteer group training, in addition to one volunteer orientation. This two-hour training session is on the Monday or Tuesday evening following each Saturday orientation. These scheduled sessions are subject to change.
  • Be able to work at least one three-and-a-half-hour shift (9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. or 12:30–4 p.m.) each week for one year or one three-and-a-half-hour shift (9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. or 12:30–4 p.m.) every other weekend for one year

Dominion Energy School Programs volunteers act as educators to groups of K-12 students visiting the Aquarium from across the state. Volunteers work with the school programs manager and 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. Dominion Energy School Programs 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
  • Complete the orientation class and training in the South Carolina Aquarium curriculum and must attend additional training with education staff, as assigned
  • Be able to work at least one three-hour or three-and-a-half-hour weekday morning shift (9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday) each week for one school year, September through May

Apply Today

In animal care, you can volunteer as an animal care volunteer in one of the following positions:  animal care assistant, diver, Sea Turtle Care Center™ assistant, horticulture assistant or water quality lab assistant.

All animal care volunteers must be agile and able to lift 50 pounds.


Animal care assistants help with the maintenance of the Aquarium’s collection, exhibits, and backup areas, including daily food preparation, feeding animals, cleaning tanks and habitats, inventorying and stocking food supply, animal observation, record-keeping, general maintenance and special projects. They may work in any of the following areas: aquatics (freshwater and saltwater), aviculture, herpetology or mammals. These volunteers work directly with their supervisors. Job descriptions and openings vary. Animal care 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
  • Should have an active interest in the animal species of South Carolina
  • Complete additional training with husbandry staff, as assigned or as required
  • Be able to work at least one, three-hour or four-hour morning shift each week for one year

Divers help with the care of the Great Ocean Tank and other areas, including exhibit cleaning, preparing food, helping feed the animals, maintaining back-up tanks, back-up areas and equipment, interacting with visitors to educate them about the animals and their ecosystems and offering general help as needed. Divers must:

  • Have Advanced Open Water SCUBA Certification or the equivalent
  • Work well in a team-oriented environment
  • Attend a dive orientation: 2024 orientations are scheduled for January 27–28, March 9–10, May 18–19, August 10–11 and October 26–27
  • Complete a dive physical, dive skill evaluation in the pool and swim evaluation in the pool for pre-entry screening (after orientation)
  • Be able to work at least 16 hours/month for one year
    • Two eight-hour shifts (8 a.m.–4 p.m.) or four four-hour shifts (8 a.m.–12 p.m. or 12 p.m.–4 p.m.)

Sea Turtle Care Center assistants help with the care and maintenance of our Sea Turtle Care Center, including the diet preparation for and feeding of our patients, recording daily observations, offering environmental enrichment, assisting with the medical care of patients, keeping detailed records and logbooks, maintaining holding tanks and hospital equipment, helping with general upkeep and assisting in miscellaneous projects. Sea Turtle Care Center assistants must:

  • Be able to work independently, demonstrate initiative, be detail-oriented, have good record-keeping skills, be comfortable engaging the general public, have an interest in sea turtles and be conservation-oriented
  • Complete additional training with Animal Care staff, as assigned and as required
  • Be able to work at least one, four-hour shift each week for one year (same day each week).  Shifts are typically 8 a.m.–12 p.m., but volunteers must be willing to work longer and/or flexible hours as needed

Please Note: Sea Turtle Care Center assistant positions are strongly coveted, so there is a lengthy waitlist for openings. Your name will be placed on our waitlist upon request. We do try, however, to fill openings first from our roster of current, active volunteers. When a match there is not possible, then we look to applicants who have not yet volunteered with us. We are unable to determine how long the wait will be. We enjoy strong retention in our Anchor Volunteer Program, especially with our Sea Turtle Care Center assistants, so the wait can vary from a couple of months to several years.


Horticulture assistants help with watering, plant inspections and current projects. They 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 help in the testing of the freshwater and saltwater in all aquatic exhibits. They must:

  • Be willing to learn about Aquarium systems and individual exhibit testing techniques

Apply Today


Partner volunteer positions give you the unique opportunity to carry conservation beyond our walls and work with likeminded partner organizations. We are currently accepting applicants for a role that falls under both the South Carolina Aquarium and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to contribute to the South Carolina Oyster Recycling and Enhancement Program (SCORE). If you are looking for a hands-on position that allows you to be in nature while helping preserve our coastal ecosystem, we urge you to apply!

Spartina Specialists will work primarily to cultivate and plant marsh grass. Spartina alererniflora is a critical plant to our Lowcountry’s ecosystem. This marsh grass helps stabilize our coast, protects against erosion and provides a critical habitat for estuarine fish and invertebrates.

Spartina Specialist duties include:

  • Day-to-day: pick seeds from marsh stalk, process collected seeds, pluck germinated seeds from water tray, water three greenhouses, check for pests (aphids, scale, mold), check fans/heaters are operating correctly, reel in hose and record observations in notebook
  • Weekly: prepare soil pots and trays for planting, assist with seed plantings with volunteers, replace faulty trays, preform necessary greenhouse maintenance and cleaning, preform pest management and pull weeds
  • Monthly: pull and discard pots with unsuccessful growth, make seed flats from ungerminated seeds, rotate plants in greenhouses and replace mosquito dunks
  • As needed: assist with stem counts and volunteer grass planting events (prep and cleanup)

Spartina Specialists must:

  • Be comfortable with the following physical requirements: ability to step up onto a 1.5-foot platform, carry reel and operate a hose, lift 5 pounds, bend over to the ground comfortably holding a 5-pound tray, use water hose for extended period adjusting arms from shoulder height to waist height, work outdoors in the Charleston summer heat and be comfortable with frogs and lizards
  • Be comfortable working independently and with a team depending on tasks
  • Attend one mandatory volunteer orientation at South Carolina Aquarium
  • Attend one mandatory volunteer orientation at SCDNR Marine Resources Division Campus
  • Be able to commit to and honor a one-year commitment to this volunteer position
  • Comfortable working independently, as well as with other
  • Willing to commit to and honor a volunteer commitment for at least one year

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a student and/or under 18, check out our Job Shadow Program, Splash Program or High School Intern Program.

Current volunteers can view training resources here.
Stay connected with the latest Aquarium content via email!
Skip to content