Vaccine Clinic Appointments: People without internet access may call 360.778.6075.

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.

To learn more about Bellingham Technical College programs you’re interested in, join us for a Virtual Program Info Session. Prior sign up is required. If you do not see an Info Session for the program you’re interested in, email for more information.

Employment Information

88% BTC graduate placement rate in all states*
69% BTC graduate placement rate

$34,341 starting annual wage
$44,521 average annual wage
$57,231 potential annual wage

* Many Fisheries & Aquaculture students are employed outside of WA and OR. According to BTC faculty records, 88% of 2017-18 graduates seeking employment have been hired in their field of study.

  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    BTC graduate employment rates:
    The graduate employment rate reflects placement rates of students who graduated from BTC in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17. The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Data Linking for Outcomes Assessment database pulls from Unemployment Insurance (UI) data across Washington and Oregon. UI data do not reflect BTC graduates who (a) are employed in states beyond those listed above or outside of the United States, (b) are self-employed, (c) are active duty members of the armed forces, (d) continued on to another educational institution, and/or (e) did not provide a social security number while enrolled at BTC.

    Washington State Employment Security Department 2018 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates ( reflect 2014-2017 employment

    Starting annual wage = 25th percentile
    Average annual wage = 50th percentile
    Potential annual wage = 75th percentile

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

Photo of Brittany Palm
Brittany Palm

Photo of Sara Smith
Sara Smith