Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences

Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences - AAS

If you have a love for the great outdoors and an interest in biology and wildlife, consider earning your  Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Fisheries & Aquaculture Science at Bellingham Technical College. You can prepare for a rewarding career as a fish hatchery specialist, fish culturist, fisheries technician, shellfish hatchery worker, scientific aide, water quality technician, or habitat restoration specialist.

In BTC’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Science programs, you’ll learn top skills such as fish culture, aquaculture, and fish spawning that will position you for the best aquatic science jobs in the fisheries industry. Hands-on courses take place in the classroom as well as at the Whatcom Creek Hatchery at the Maritime Heritage Park in Bellingham, which is operated by Bellingham Technical College’s Fisheries & Aquaculture Science program.

Employment Information

Data are provided on a program (not credential) level

66%1 / 77%3 BTC graduate placement rate

$43,852 starting annual wage2
$52,020 average annual wage2
$64,445 potential annual wage2

  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    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 2016-17 and 2018-19. 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.

    2Wage data come from Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates (Washington State wage) and reflect 2015-2018 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 2015-16 and 2017-18 and who were employed in their field of study within 9 months of graduation. 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

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

This program typically starts in Fall Quarter on a space available basis.

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?


  • Quarter 1

  • AQUA 100Intro to Fisheries and Aquaculture2 CR
  • AQUA 110Water Quality3 CR
  • AQUA 120Aquatic Biodiversity3 CR
  • AQUA 130Reproduction2 CR
  • AQUA 135Hatchery Practicum I4 CR
  • Quarter 2

  • AMATH 111Applied Technical Math5 CR
  • OR
  • AQUA 140Growth and Nutrition3 CR
  • AQUA 150Fundamentals of Aquaculture3 CR
  • AQUA 165Aquaculture Practicum3 CR
  • AQUA 190Toxicology and Diseases3 CR
  • Quarter 3

  • AQUA 160Fundamentals of Fisheries Biology3 CR
  • AQUA 170Freshwater Ecology3 CR
  • AQUA 180Oceanography3 CR
  • AQUA 195Fisheries Practicum4 CR
  • Quarter 4

  • CMST& 210Interpersonal Communications (recommended)5 CR
  • OR
  • CMST& 220Public Speaking5 CR
  • OR
  • PSYC& 100General Psychology5 CR
  • OR
  • SOC& 101Introduction to Sociology5 CR
  • AENGL 100Applied English5 CR
  • OR
  • BUS 171Technical Communications5 CR
  • OR
  • ENGL& 101English Composition I5 CR
  • AQUA 200Genetics in Fisheries and Aquaculture3 CR
  • AQUA 210Hatchery Practicum II3 CR
  • Quarter 5

  • AQUA 220Professional Development2 CR
  • AQUA 230Current Topics3 CR
  • AQUA 240Independent Project2 CR
  • AQUA 250Advanced Sampling Techniques4 CR
  • AQUA 260Natural Resource Management4 CR
  • Quarter 6

  • AQUA 270Introduction to GIS for Fisheries & Aquaculture4 CR
  • AQUA 280Field Based Experience4 CR
  • AQUA 290Acquaculture Management2 CR
  • Electives (5 Credit):5 CR
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences students may choose elective credits from any 100 level or higher courses with the following prefixes: ENGL, BIO, BUS, CAP, CET, CHEM, CS, CS&, ECON, ENGR, or ENGT. Courses used to fulfill General Education requirements may not be used to fulfill elective requirements.

Program Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the AAS 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

You can put your education to work. Skilled fisheries workers with AAS-T and AAS degrees are needed by employers such as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as private hatcheries, shellfish farms, enhancement organizations, salmon operations, and federal and private scientific companies. The employment outlook for program graduates is very strong, and students can expect to earn excellent wages.

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