What skills do you need for a successful career in fisheries?

A new study from the American Fisheries Society (AFS) discovered employers most value critical thinking and communication skills when hiring entry-level fisheries professionals. “Are We Preparing the Next Generation of Fisheries Professionals to Succeed in their Careers?” appeared as a feature in a Fisheries Special Issue on Education.

The AFS surveyed its membership, which includes a broadly representative sample of employers, students, and university faculty in the fisheries profession, about their perception of the importance of a variety of skills, knowledge areas, and certifications for entry-level fisheries employees.

Employers rated critical thinking skills and oral and written communication skills as the most important contributor to career success of entry-level employees. Steve L. McMullin, the lead author of the study stated, “Employers want it all—critical thinking and ability to solve problems, excellent communication skills, ability to work well in teams and excellent academic preparation in fisheries-related topics, as well as other sciences, statistics and mathematics and human dimensions of resource conservation.”

McMullin also stressed that the study showed the important roles employers and the AFS play in assisting universities in developing fisheries professionals. “It is clear that much is expected of young fisheries professionals. Effectively preparing students to become high-performing young professionals, and continuing the development of young professionals so they mature into experts in their fields, is a big task. Universities play a major role in the development of fisheries professionals, but they can’t do it alone. Employers and AFS also can play important roles in developing fisheries professionals.”