What is your current job and what does it entail?
My current job as an animal trainer encompasses training the killer whales at SeaWorld Orlando as well as performing in the shows. I'm also responsible for the general care and well-being of the whales, and coaching younger team members to follow suit in the future maintenance of our killer whale population. As a representative of Sea World's Animal Training team, it is important to educate the public about killer whales and the conservation of their environment.
What was the key factor in your career decision?
What do like most about your career?
I've always had an affinity for marine life ever since I was a child, but I hadn't decided on a career until I met with my university career counselor. He asked me to think back to the periods in my life that were the most fun and exciting, and it all came back to interacting with marine life. At the same time, I had met a SeaWorld trainer who informed me what I needed to do to get a job in this field.
Other than playing with killers whales, my favorite part of my job is seeing the impact the whales make on all of the millions of guests that come to visit. It's amazing!
What do you like least about your career?
It's a little bit tough when it's 35 degrees outside -- and you're about to jump into 55 degree water, with a 3 mm thick wetsuit on. But the show must go on!
What do you do to relax?
I like to relax on the beach with my wife in my free time.
Who are your heroes/heroines?
What advice would you give a high school student who expressed an interest in pursuing a career in your field?
My heroes are my mom and dad. They taught me that a college education was a priority, and that failure in life was not an option. Most importantly, they taught me to love others and to treat all living things with kindness.
I would advise them to practice swimming, because the first challenge you have in becoming an animal trainer is a swim test. Get a college education -- although it is not required, you will be competing against others who will have one. Psychology is the most relevant degree for what we do as animal trainers, but I recommend you study what you love. Be persistent -- if at first you don't succeed, keep trying!
Are career opportunities in your field increasing or decreasing and why?
As public awareness of marine life increases, I think there are an increasing number of opportunities in our field. Jobs in the animal training field jobs can be challenging to get, but they are not unattainable.
What will you be doing 10 years from today?
Hopefully, I will still playing with the whales, but I also hope to become a larger public advocate for marine conservation.