Aquatic Science

The Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences program is still accepting student applications for Fall 2024. Students interested in starting the program, and not already enrolled, should get on the AQUA 101 waitlist. As the waitlist fills, students will be contacted about enrolling in Fall courses. For more information, contact program instructor Brittany at

Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences - AAS-T

It takes a highly trained professional to lead a team of technicians for aquatic research and conservation. A strong foundation in the core sciences for aquatic systems is necessary to apply the appropriate analytical skills to accomplish your research goals. Are you ready to be that team leader and launch your research career? If so, then the AAS-Transfer Degree in Aquatic Science is your first step on this new pathway.

This degree is designed for students who are interested in transferring to a partnering university to complete their bachelor’s degree. You will set yourself apart with the unique training skills only offered at BTC that you will carry into your rewarding career. BTC graduates can transfer up to 90 credits and then complete the upper-level courses required to qualify for more advanced positions.

Students in this degree will start their foundation in the core sciences while also receiving intensive hands-on experience working with aquatic organisms and ecosystems. Our program courses are offered in both in-person and online formats to increase availability for traveling to freshwater and marine field sites. At these sites, students will learn how to design surveys, operate sampling equipment, and prepare data for management goals.

This degree is all about flexibility and options. Students will work with academic advisors to create the right combination of general education and program courses for their career goals. Students may also extend their pathway at BTC and enroll in one of the advanced level certificates to increase their professional training for higher job placement.

Ready to take your aquatic career to the next level? Start your training at the award-winning and nationally recognized Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences program at BTC. 

Upon completion of this AAS-T degree, students will also receive the Fundamentals of Aquatic Science Certificate.


Employment Information

Data are provided on a program (not credential) level

63%1 BTC graduate placement rate (Employment Security Department- WA and OR only)
96%3 BTC graduate placement rate (faculty-tracked, national)
78%3 BTC in-field graduate placement rate (faculty-tracked, national)

$46,473 starting annual wage2
$53,133 average annual wage2
$64,731 potential annual wage2

  • Employment and Wage Data Sources and Information

    1Employment data come from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and reflect WA/OR employment for students enrolled at BTC between 2017-18 and 2019-20. Students are included in the employment rate if they left with a credential. Rates are not shown for programs with fewer than 10 students meeting the above criteria.

    2Whatcom County and WA State wage data come from Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) 2021 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates and reflect 2018-21 employment. Wage data represent occupations that BTC faculty have identified as the most relevant career paths for program graduates. Note that these wages reflect employees with varying educational levels/credentials. For cases in which multiple occupations have been identified by faculty, a weighted percentile is calculated using each occupation’s percentile wage and employment size estimate. Wages are not shown for programs for which occupations do not meet the ESD’s minimum thresholds for publishing. If the program has wage data from the Washington SBCTC that involves shift work, these ESD wages reflect the same number of hours used in the annual wage calculation. Starting wage = 25th percentile, median wage = 50th percentile, wage potential = 75th percentile.

    3Additional employment rates are provided for programs with faculty who maintain their own employment records of students who graduated between 2017-18 and 2019-20 and who were employed within 9 months of graduation. Both overall and in field of study employment rates are included, respectively. For these programs, the format follows: ESD rate / faculty-tracked overall rate / faculty-tracked in-field rate. These additional, faculty-provided rates are particularly important for programs that tend to have graduates employed outside of WA and OR. Note that due to lack of available data, rates may represent fewer than 3 years of graduates.

  • Estimated Program Costs

Tuition Fees and Rates overview page

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

This program typically starts in Fall quarter.

What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?

Admissions application and assessment testing in Reading, Math and Writing is required. Your score on the test and/or your previous transcripts will determine where you begin your course sequence. Contact Admissions at 360.752.8345 or at for assistance with academic planning.

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits: 90

  • Current Students: Learn how to use this page to register for classes

  • General Education Core Courses

  • CMST& 210Interpersonal Communications5 CR
  • OR
  • CMST& 220Public Speaking5 CR
  • OR
  • PSYC& 100General Psychology5 CR
  • OR
  • SOC& 101Introduction to Sociology5 CR
  • ENGL& 101English Composition I5 CR
  • OR
  • MATH& 107Math in Society5 CR
  • OR Higher
  • A 5-credit Gen Ed/Transfer Course used to fulfill the General Education course requirements may not be also used for an elective requirement.
  • TOTAL General Education Core Course Credits20 CR
  • Core Courses for Program

  • AQUA 101Introduction to Applied Sciences2 CR
  • AQUA 111Applied Techniques: Fall3 CR
  • AQUA 112Applied Techniques: Winter1 CR
  • AQUA 113Applied Techniques: Spring2 CR
  • AQUA 121Principles of Aquaculture5 CR
  • AQUA 122Principles of Fisheries Science5 CR
  • AQUA 131Aquatic Chemistry with Lab5 CR
  • AQUA 141Research Methods3 CR
  • ENVS& 101Fundamentals of Environmental Science5 CR
  • OCEA& 101Introduction to Oceanography with Lab5 CR
  • TOTAL Core Courses for Program Credits36 CR
  • Program Specialty

  • Any AQUA specialty courses used to fulfill the specialty courses requirement may not also be used for an elective requirement.
  • Program Specialty: Transfer Track (Select two classes from the list below.)
  • AQUA 243Fisheries Ecology with Lab5 CR
  • AQUA 251Fisheries Conservation5 CR
  • AQUA 271Data Analysis for Aquatic Sciences5 CR
  • AQUA 272Introduction to GIS5 CR
  • AQUA 273Animal Genetics with Lab5 CR
  • AQUA 274Organismal Biology with Lab6 CR
  • Any AQUA specialty courses used to fulfill the specialty courses requirement may not be also used for an elective requirement.
  • TOTAL Program Specialty Course Credits10 CR
  • Electives

  • Any combination of AQUA courses and 5-credit transfer courses may be used to fulfill the elective requirements, as long as those courses are not being applied to meet any other listed requirements. 24 CR
  • View past class requirements for this program.

Program Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the AAS-T degree in Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences, will be able to:

  • Demonstrate competency in hatchery methods and apply appropriate techniques to spawn, incubate, rear and release fish.
  • Utilize proper tools, equipment and protective devices to safeguard against injury to self, others and workplace facilities.
  • Act responsibly and ethically as an employee by being punctual, adhering to company policies and interacting positively and appropriately with co-workers and supervisors.
  • Receive, interpret, and convey written, verbal, and graphic information to communicate effectively with co-workers, management and general public.
  • Compute, calculate, and convert standard and metric measurements for purposes of disease treatment and prevention, and rearing of fish.
  • Observe and comply with environmental laws and regulations related to rearing of fish and the use and disposal of chemicals and drugs.
  • Use current and emerging computerized systems or software to operate equipment, calculate results, keep records, and enter data on proper forms and records.
  • Identify resources to stay current with new and emerging equipment and techniques.

Employment Outlook

Fisheries & Aquaculture Sciences AAS-T graduates may either transfer directly to a partnering institution to complete their bachelor’s degree, or enter the workforce and complete their bachelor’s degree at a later time. Graduates qualify for Hatchery Specialist 2 and Scientific Technician 2 positions with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Biological Technician GS 4 positions with the federal government, and employment in tribal government, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The average annual wage in this field is $45,521, with an earning potential of about $57,231 per year.*

Program graduates work as fish hatchery specialists, fish culturists, fisheries technicians, shellfish hatchery workers, and scientific aides.

Faculty & Support

  • Degrees and Credentials

    MS, Marine Sciences, University of New England

    BS, Marine Biology, University of New England

    Certificate, Professional Technical Education, Washington State

  • Degrees and Credentials

    Certificate, Professional Technical Education, Washington State

    MS, Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University

    BS, Environmental Science-Freshwater Ecology Emphasis, Western Washington University


If you have questions about this program or want help with the admissions steps to Bellingham Technical College, please email

Current students wanting academic planning and support, can connect with the program Instructor(s) or email