Career path help!

Hello! I found your site while searching for information about aquaponics. I apologize for this post ahead of time because it will be a little lengthy in order to explain why I’m here.

My son, who is currently enrolled in college, has struggled a bit with school. Long story short… he is his own biggest obstacle to being successful in college which in turn has left him some what defeated. He has gravitated to an interest in aquaponics even though he hasn’t had any exposure to it yet. He is more of a “doer” and “hands on” learner than a book learner. Honestly, I think he’s trying to stay in college because he feels he needs to be in order to get anywhere in life (my husband and I are college graduates and his sister is currently in college). While there is definitely value in a college degree it isn’t the only way to get to where you want to be.

This finally brings me to my question…is there a suggested path to entering the field of aquaponics that doesn’t require staying enrolled in college? Are there any types of apprenticeships that one can do? He currently is enrolled in a sustainable farming program but he has no desire to be a independent farmer of any kind at this point. If I had to guess what he wound rather do (since he doesn’t give us much to go on in any conversation and anything we do suggest is taken as parental interference🙄), I would say he would rather work for someone.

Thanks for any input anyone can offer. We live in northwestern Pennsylvania and there aren’t any aquaponic businesses near us that I’m aware of where he could work to get a feel for the job/career. Any suggestions would be appreciated.



Greetings @Tippy

Thanks for reaching out. Really appreciate your authenticity in the request and value your desire to help your son.

To be completely honest my path was very non-traditional as I was very driven and college couldn’t stimulate the growth that I was experiencing. I am an entrepreneur and programmer by trade. I will be quick to say (siding with Elon Musk) degrees don’t really matter in certain contexts. But I will also counter myself by saying, I went back and got a degree later because I wanted it, not because it was “next on the list.” Aquaponics is interesting because it both requires degrees (for research-level studies, policy making, and food safety) and also needs people who haven’t spent much time in the academic world to make this valuable research and new developments accessible to the general population. It is a collaboration between the academic and the passionate entrepreneur.

So to answer your question, I do think your son can find a good place in the aquaponic world, if they’re finding that college isn’t “for them”. I say this because it is truly one of the greatest agricultural innovations of our lifetime that creates a synergy between hydroponics, aquaculture, research, primary and secondary education, the backyard grower, the large scale farmer, technology, and the marketplaces. Lots of stuff to dabble in :stuck_out_tongue:

You all can come check out the conference this year too! The board will release more info on that soon.

There are some great trainings out there, some of them online like Tawnya at The Aquaponic Source and some in person + online like Charlie Schultz in Santa Fe Community College.

Hope this helps :smiley:

Welcome aboard @Tippy
I understand where your son is coming from. I’ve been doing it “hands on” since 2006. Making a living in Aquaponics isn’t the easiest road to travel. Considering he has no exposure at this time, I’d recommend “Aquaponic Workshop” time. Sounds like he would have to travel to do it though. Have him research a few and give you his results. If after this, he still feels it is for him, internship would be his next step. All that being said, a degree in at least one related field, in my humble opinion, would be the way to go to making a living at it. There are many facets of Aquaponics he could specialize in. Agriculture, breeding, environmental controls, systems design and teaching are just a few. Be warned though, if he decides he likes Aquaponics, it will probably become an obsession. :grin:

aquaponics researcher joseph tetrault near at u. harrisburg… still far away i assume?

Thanks so much for your reply. I saw the conference information on the website and thought that would be a good way for him to gauge whether or not he truly has interest in pursuing the field of aquaponics. Your help is truly appreciated. It’s tough as a parent watching your (adult) child struggle to find a direction in this world.


Thanks for your reply…I truly appreciate it. The workshop idea is a good one. Also considering suggesting the conference to him as well in order for him to get a feel for whether or not aquaponics is for him. My only goal is for him to find something he enjoys that hopefully supports him as well!

Thanks again!

Thanks for the reply…it is very much appreciated. Harrisburg isn’t super close but is doable. Thinking of suggesting the conference or a workshop (that another forum member suggested) to help him gauge his interest.

Thanks again!