In 2014, almost 400 volunteers, like Rachel and Zachary pictured here, gave the aquarium 31,804 hours of their time!

Volunteer at Birch Aquarium

Volunteers welcome guests of all ages, engage them in learning about marine life and our connection to the planet as well as the role we play in conserving it.


Please Note: Open House events are scheduled quarterly. Once your application is submitted, you will receive details on how to sign up.

Help visitors from around the world discover the wonders of the ocean. Inspire conservation and showcase the groundbreaking research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 

Annually, more than 300 volunteers guide visitors through exhibits, answer questions, and work behind the scenes. From students and working adults to retired professionals, Birch Aquarium seeks a variety of expertise from volunteers of all backgrounds.

Thoughts from a Volunteer

"Working at the tide pools was something I looked forward to all week, and now that I've graduated it is the thing I miss most about school.  I've realized that working at the aquarium has fostered my confidence and communication skills, all from being on a beautiful patio four hours a week.  Thank you for letting me open the eyes of children to the wonders of the world.  Thank you for letting me share my knowledge and passion."
- Lauren, 4-year volunteer


All positions require attendance at a new applicant Open House which is offered quarterly. Volunteers are asked to make a minimum six month commitment of one 4 hour shift per week and to purchase an annual Volunteer Membership at $30 upon successful completion of the applicant interview. Volunteer member benefits include free unlimited admission for the volunteer, free aquarium passes annually, informative special lectures, and other discounts and exclusive opportunities. Applicants must be at least 16 to be considered for our program.

Volunteer Roles

Tide Pool Volunteer (year-round)

Help make our simulated tide pool and adjacent interpretive station come alive for our visitors by demonstrating coping strategies for life in a harsh environment.

Training: Attend one 2-hour mandatory training course.

Information Center Volunteer (year-round)

Welcome visitors, provide an orientation to the facility, answer questions and distribute literature on aquarium programs.

Training: On-the-job training.

Education Assistant (October through June)

Assist aquarium instructors in the classroom with hands-on curriculum covering a variety of marine topics including tide pools, fish diversity and kelp forests. Volunteers must first clear a background check to participate in this program.

Training: Attend one 4-hour orientation course.

Public Programs Assistant (year-round)

Assist instructors with onsite and offsite educational activities, including birthday parties, outreach classes and field programs.

Training: Attend one 4-hour orientation course.

Advanced Volunteer Jobs

* Volunteers must start in another area first.

Aquarist Assistant (year-round)

Assist aquarists by cleaning and maintaining tanks, monitoring water and air conditions, preparing food, feeding, and shore collecting. Due to the responsibilities involved in helping our husbandry staff care for our animals, aquarist assistants must work a consistent 4-hour shift on a weekly basis. 
Training: Previous experience is preferred, but additional training is provided on the job.
Volunteers only available on the weekends will have a longer wait than those available on the weekdays.

Docent Ambassador (year-round)

Serve in a lead capacity for interpretive volunteers and interns through mentoring, training, and serving as Shift Captains as requested by staff; develop and present interpretive talks and tours; be highly visible to the public in order to answer questions and convey information in an interpretive manner throughout the facility; give interpretive presentations during feedings including Kelp Tank Dive shows; and assist with evening special events. Training: Attend mandatory 32-hour training course and regular meetings.

Volunteers must work as an Exhibits Interpreter for 4-6 months prior to docent training. Docent training is offered periodically.

Who can I contact?

Volunteer Department
Email us!