Here is a list of US organizations & associations that are influential within the marine mammal training industry. You should be familiar with each of these; as they are great resources to learn what is going on in the industry, what internships and jobs are available, and provide the latest information on animal care and training. We have given each membership site a rating from 1-10. This rating scale determine on how necessary we believe it is to join this site – 1 being not necessary and 10 being completely necessary. We have no incentive to support any of these organizations.
MarineMammalTrainer.com rates the necessity of this membership as a 10/10. The most important organization you can belong to is the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association (IMATA). This is the membership community for both aspiring and working marine animal trainers. Membership gives you access to their extensive training vocabulary library, the ability to interact and connect with other members, discounts on their annual conference, and a quarterly subscription to Soundings (the IMATA magazine). Perhaps the most useful perk of being an IMATA member is access to their list of available jobs and internships. That means some dolphin training internships will be posted on IMATA and nowhere else and the only people who can access that listing are IMATA members. Membership ranges from $40 for students to $75 for working professionals. Corporate memberships are $200. The membership is good for one year and is imperative to have for anyone looking to become a trainer in this field.
MarineMammalTrainer.com rates the necessity of this membership as a 9/10. The Animal Behavior Management Alliance is a not-for-profit corporation who’s members are dedicated the enhancement of animal care through training and varieties of enrichment. Annual memberships range from $45-$55. Professional memberships may require letters of recommendation of current ABMA members. Once a member you will enjoy their quarterly magazine, Wellspring, access to their vocabulary library and members contact list, as well as many other perks. After IMATA, membership to ABMA is an absolute necessity for aspiring trainers. Their magazine alone will give you phenomenal insight into the industry.
MarineMammalTrainer.com rates the necessity of this membership as a 5/10. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums are very respected entity in the industry. They are not only a great resource for aspiring trainers, but they also ensure that animal facilities are up to code. If a facility is up to code they will receive an AZA accreditation – proving that their facility meets or exceeds the minimum requirements for animal housing and care. AZA also has memberships available starting at $50. Depending on the membership you receive you can be eligible for a variety of benefits, such as; subscription to their magazine CONNECT, their monthly eNewsletter, INSIGHT, discounts on merchandise and their professional training courses. While the influence of AZA expands beyond marine mammals and aquatic facilities, they are still a great resource for aspiring trainers. Regardless of your decision to become a member, their internship and job listings can be very beneficial. These posts are available to anyone and include more than just dolphin training internships and marine mammal related jobs.
MarineMammalTrainer.com rates the necessity of this membership as a 3/10. The Society for Marine Mammalogy is a membership only site that focuses on the advancement of the marine sciences. While not directly related to your role as a marine mammal trainer, they are an influential organization that you should be aware of. The cost for a SMM Membership varies depending on your level and whether or not you buy a one or two year membership. Members enjoy access to other professionals, access to job postings and loads of information regarding the marine mammal sciences.
MarineMammalTrainer.com rates the necessity of this membership as a 3/10. The American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) is a non-profit 501c3 who’s member’s dedication lies within the professional care of animals in zoos. Annual memberships range from $30-$45. Members enjoy discounts on AAZK merchandise and conferences, special web access, and subscription to the Animal Keeper Forum (AKF). They also are very involved in numerous conservation efforts. They have a list of available jobs related to the animal care and animal training field. While their focus is heavily weighted in animal care, it is still a great resource for industry related news and possible internships.
The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) is a membership only organization specifically for zoological parks and aquariums. Their goal is to maintain standards of health and safety for marine mammals across the world. The process for a zoo or an aquarium to become a member is quite extensive; requiring the completion of an application, two letters of recommendation, a presentation in front of the AMMPA board, and the completion of an onsite inspection. Seeing their list of approved members may give you an idea of what facility you would like to work for. There is also a list of internship and job opportunities.
The International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM) may not be directly related to your field of interest, but it is related. They are a group of professionals who are dedicated to the study of aquatic animal medicine and the advancement of husbandry (health care) and management systems. The core purpose of any marine mammal trainer is to provide a safe environment for their animals with the best care possible. The best care possible includes working with a veterinarian or veterinary staff. Understanding their world, helps you better communicate with them when an animal is sick or needs medicine. IAAAM allows you to gain some insight into the medical world of aquatic animal care. They also have a great contact list of leaders in their field.
Island Dolphin Care is a non-profit organization focused on educating the public on marine conservation. IDC offers many different types of dolphin interactions and resources on husbandry, training, and care. They also offer a wonderful internship opportunity. Located in Key Largo (South Florida), Island Dolphin Care not only offers great experiences and great education, but in a gorgeous environment. If you are ver in Florida, we highly reccomend making Island Dolphin Care part of your visit. For more information visit their site and make sure to check out their resource page!