About the Author

ABOUT KYLE KITTLESON

You can follow Kyle Kittleson on Facebook and Twitter. Also check out his personal website!

Hi there! My name is Kyle Kittleson. I run and operate this website. I was a marine mammal trainer for more than five years. I worked with penguins, seals, sea lions, dolphins, pilot whales, false killer whales and killer whales! It was a dream come true.

dolphin-trainer-wear-a-wetsuit-at-work-coverIt is a difficult and often confusing road on becoming a marine mammal trainer. I have created this website and my eBook, “Wear a Wetsuit at Work: How You can Become a Marine Mammal Trainer,” in order to help those aspiring to enter the field.

My book took me five years to compile and write. Entering the marine mammal training field doesn’t have to be a mystery. If you know what you need to do, then all there is left to do, is do it!

 

Where did you work?

I worked at Sea Life Park in Hawaii and SeaWorld Orlando.

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Getting some love during my internship at Sea Life Park – Hawaii.

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One Ocean Show – SeaWorld, Orlando

What animals did you work with?

Humboldt penguins, harbor seals, hawaiian monk seals, california sea lions, atlantic and pacific bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, false killer whales, killer whales, and a variety of parrots. I also owned and operated my dog training company for three years before selling. I now do some consulting for this awesome dog training company in Los Angeles!

 

 

 

 

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The love of my life.

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Humboldt penguin in Hawaii (back when I was young)!

How did you become a trainer?

Honestly, I worked really hard. It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. I didn’t have the necessary experience to become a trainer, so I had to get creative with how I got my foot in the door. I talk a lot about how I did that in my book and this website.

You must have excellent swimming skills. I can’t emphasize this enough. The swim test is a very challenging hurdle in becoming a trainer, and unfortunately, most people fail. I was a competitive swimmer for 9 years and also practiced free-diving for a few years.

You should also be SCUBA and CPR certified. Read more about how to become a trainer by clicking here!

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My first time touching a killer whale. SeaWorld San Diego Trainer for a Day Program.

 

How old were you when you decided to become a trainer?

I always knew that working with marine mammals is what I wanted to do, however, it wasn’t until during college that I decided to work on making my dream a reality.

 

What is the coolest part about being a trainer?

The relationship you develop with each animal! Marine mammals are so smart and find the interactions with trainers very reinforcing. Building relationships with each individual animal is an unexplainable experience. I mean, walking into “work” and looking into the eyes of a killer whale is overwhelming. Knowing that they know you is a feeling I can’t describe!

And doing this is pretty cool too…

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A typical day at work.

What is the hardest part about being a trainer?

The long hours, the work schedule and the pay! I remember days I would work 30 hours straight. For five years I never had a Christmas with my human family. I had to have second jobs or start businesses in order to supplement my income. However, it is all worth it. Caring for these animals and enhancing their lives is worth any sacrifice.

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As an intern, I had to be at work by 6am most mornings to sort thousands of pounds of fish.

What is the best piece of advice you have for aspiring marine mammal trainers?

I would tell them to get as much information as possible and then act. Seeking out resources like the website you are currently reading, my book, and IMATA is the best way to set yourself up for success! There are very few jobs available and plenty of people wiling to fill the positions. You have to be willing to do more than everyone else.

The sacrifice is well worth it.

Kyle-Kittleson-Hydro

10 comments

  • hi kyle kittleson,
    how are you? i am okay.. i like going to sea world.!!!! where can i get your book that called ” wear a wetsuit at work how you can become a marine mammal trainer? have a good night… email back soon..

  • Hey Kyle! I was reading some things that came up in my Facebook newsfeed and your video popped up as well. I am glad I took the time to watch it. I enjoyed listening to your stories and experiences. It was so evident that you are passionate about what you do and I think that is awesome. I would love to talk to you more!

  • Marley Richmond

    I watched the film blackfish, and you’re right, it did make me feel something. But it also made me think. I watched your video on youtube and I want to know more about how you see things at SeaWorld. Would you be willing to answer a few questions over email?

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  • Hey Kyle! I was doing a little bit of research on killer whales and I came across your video response to CNN’s Blackfish. I just want to say that I’m so glad I watched your interview (even though it was a little long haha). I am by no means a Sea World trainer or even know remotely anything about killer whales, but I have always loved animals and have always been drawn to killer whales ever since I visited Sea World when I was like 12 or something. I’ve watched Blackfish like 7 times, even though I disagree with the majority of it (I’m just fascinated by the whales, so to get to watch video footage of them is awesome!), but I never really found a way to adequately articulate the reasons why I disagreed with it so that people would see where I was coming from. I just want to thank you for speaking out for what you believe is right (regardless of what other people think) and for making a website like this available to people aspiring to be a marine mammal trainer. So thank you!

  • Hello Kyle,

    I am from India . I am surprise when i visited the website. i also wanna be a trainer, so how can i proceed in this field.

    thank you

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  • Hey! Im a 13 year old and i just found my inspiration for dolphins and marine mammals when i finally did a dolphin interaction at Atlantis. Unfortunately, I live nowhere near the ocean. However, I have two dogs. What would you recommend I do to get myself on a starting path towards a marine mammal trainer? Thank you!

  • Hey Kyle,
    I am a junior in high school that is starting to plan for what I am wanting to do for the future. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a marine biologist. I used to go to sea world all the time. However, I am having a difficult time finding out more to pursue my dream and what part of marine biology I would like to go into. I’d love to learn more about what classes I need to take in college and what things I need to get involved with to stand out on a resume. If you could give me any form of advice it would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Shelbi

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