Zoo and Aquarium Curators and Directors

Aquarium Director with Children

Zoos are wild kingdoms, and aquariums are underwater worlds. The word zoo comes from the Greek for living being and is a shortened term for zoological garden or zoological park. This may imply that zoos are created just for beauty and recreation but the main functions of modern zoos are education, conservation, and the study of animals. The term aquarium comes from the Latin for source of water; in such places, living aquatic plants and animals are studied and exhibited. These land and water gardens are tended by people with an affinity for animals.

Zoo and aquarium directors, or chief executive officers, are administrators who coordinate the business affairs of these centers. Directors execute the institution's policies, usually under the direction of a governing authority. They are responsible for the institution's operations and plans for future development and for such tasks as fund-raising and public relations. They also serve as representatives of, and advocates for, their institutions and their entire industry. Zoo and aquarium curators are the chief employees responsible for the day-to-day care of the creatures. They oversee the various sections of the animal collections, such as birds, mammals, and fishes.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Animal Curators, Assistant Curators, General Curators
Duties Coordinate the business affairs of zoos and aquariums (directors); oversee the management of an institution's entire animal collection and animal management staff (curators)
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000+
Work Environment Indoors/Outdoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities are available nationwide
Minimum Education Level
  • Master's Degree
School Subjects
  • Biology
  • Business
  • Speech
Experience Several years experience as assistant director or curator
Personality Traits
  • Organized
  • Problem-Solving
  • Realistic
  • Business Management
  • Interpersonal
  • Leadership
Certification or Licensing None
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook About as Fast as the Average
Career Ladder
  • Zoo or Aquarium Director
  • Assistant Zoo or Aquarium Director
  • Zoo or Aquarium Curator
  • Assistant Zoo or Aquarium Curator
  • Zookeeper or Aquarist