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Water Quality Specialist

Job Location

Seattle, WA, United States


Type of Job



$23.00- $25.00 / hour

Published By

Publisher Name

Published Date

Oct 11, 2023

About the job

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Water Quality Specialist

Posted: Open to internal and external applicants

Reports to: Water Quality manager.

Status: Full-time, hourly, benefitted position

Hours of work: Position will work a set schedule weekly, may include weekend days. Occasional need for overnight work or participate in events as needed.

Date needed: ASAP

Position description:

The water quality specialist performs physical and chemical water quality testing for the Seattle Aquarium seawater systems, auxiliary life support systems, and related research projects. The specialist supports interdepartmental collaboration to troubleshoot water quality and develop new system parameters in support of Life Sciences projects and new exhibitions. The water quality specialist performs chromatographic, spectrophotometric, and potentiometric analyses, conducts auxiliary water system quality control, works alongside staff, interns, and volunteers in routine chemical analysis procedures, and assists other departments and outside researchers. Water quality data are uploaded to TRACKS and communicated to relevant Aquarium stakeholders.

Key functions:

Responsible for completing accurate and timely water quality tests including, but not limited to:

  • Performs laboratory analyses of Aquarium system water, including physical chemistry parameters (such as pH and dissolved oxygen), nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphorous), and bacteriological parameters (such as coliforms and Enterococcus). Techniques utilized include spectrophotometry, titrations, chromatography, and use of handheld meters. Performs sample collection and tank-side water quality assessments throughout the main Aquarium, Animal Care Center, and Ocean Pavilion for marine mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates.
  • Analyzes and validates water quality data and imports results into TRACKS.
  • Interfaces with other departments and teams, including Facilities, Conservation Programs and Partnerships, and Animal Care teams, to maintain proper water quality parameters in all aquarium systems and to collaborate on projects to further animal care knowledge and/or exhibit design.
  • Performs routine maintenance of laboratory equipment and assists with instrument calibrations.
  • Maintains current chemical inventory, safety data sheet database, laboratory records, and standard operating procedures.
  • Prepares reagents for chemical and bacteriological analyses.
  • Maintains effective quality controls through routine preparation of quality control standards, instrument calibration curves, method detection limit studies, and tracks method accuracy and precision through percent recoveries and relative percent differences.
  • Participates in annual laboratory state accreditation by State of Washington Department of Ecology for nitrite, ammonia, pH, and fecal coliform testing.
  • Assists laboratory staff, volunteers, and interns in collaborative laboratory environment.
  • Acts as role model for compliance with all SA safety protocols, especially with regards to chemical handling and the activities specific to the Pier 60 lab, Animal Care Center water quality area, and associated life support systems.
  • Maintains cooperative and effective working relationships with all Aquarium stakeholders.
  • Participates in safety drills and security response as able when workflow permits.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Required skills and experience:

The skills and abilities listed below may be demonstrated through a combination of relevant cultural, traditional practices, community programs, jobs, internships, volunteer experience, and/or formal or informal education.

  • Strong math and chemistry skills required for safe management of chemicals and effective preparation of required reagents and media.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office and TRACKS, and ability to analyze, validate, and communicate water quality data and trends.
  • Strong organizational skills, self-motivated, team-oriented, and effective communication skills.
  • Ability to use respirators and other appropriate personal protective equipment such as laboratory coats, safety goggles, and gloves.
  • Embodiment of the Seattle Aquarium’s S.A.L.I.S.H. values and commitment to ethos of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Alignment with the Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of our marine environment.
  • Understanding of the chemical, physical, and biological components, and processes of seawater, including marine bacteria, pH, alkalinity, dissolved gases, phosphorus, and the nitrogen cycle.
  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience in biology, chemistry, environmental science, hydrology, engineering, or a related field.
  • Two years of laboratory experience as a laboratory technician in an aquarium water quality lab.

Working conditions:

  • Exposure to large, dangerous animals, animal diseases, feces, and toxic chemicals.
  • Occasionally required to lift more than 30 pounds.
  • Comfort working in or around water.
  • Must be able to perform laboratory analyses in appropriate PPE.
  • Must be able to stand on their feet 4 or more hours a day, be physically active through repetitive physical motions.
  • Must have or be able to obtain a Washington State driver’s license, to operate Aquarium-owned vehicles for travel between working locations.

Salary and benefits: $23.00- $25.00, Dependent on experience. Please include salary expectations in your materials. Full-time staff are eligible for the Seattle Aquarium’s comprehensive benefits package to include medical, vision, dental, an employer-funded health reimbursement account, medical and dependent care flexible spending accounts, life insurance, long-term disability, 403b retirement fund with employer match, access to a subsidized ORCA pass, a Seattle Aquarium Family Plus membership and generous paid time off.

How to apply: The Seattle Aquarium is committed to expanding a diverse, equitable, and inclusive conservation movement. We are invested in building an Aquarium with a wide variety of backgrounds, identities, languages, cultural ways of knowing, and life experiences. We know research shows that society has conditioned communities of color, trans and gender non-conforming people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and other marginalized candidates to more frequently not apply to a job because they don’t feel that they meet all of the qualifications listed even if they are qualified. If you meet some of the requirements and you are passionate about our mission and our ocean, we encourage you to apply and look forward to learning more about you.

Interested candidates should upload a résumé to our online application to be considered. Application review will begin immediately.

Please let us know if you require a reasonable accommodation to apply for this job by emailing us at

Note: If offered the position, candidates must pass a background check and motor vehicle records check. Conviction record is not an automatic disqualifier; we are a second chance employer. Regarding driving records: Within the last three years, you must not have had more than two moving traffic violations or any major violation (DUI, reckless driving, negligent driving, etc.).

About the Seattle Aquarium:

The Seattle Aquarium is a respected authority on Puget Sound, the Salish Sea and the world’s one ocean. Our passionate staff increases awareness and drives the change needed to preserve and protect our marine environment by providing an inspiring visitor experience, engaging daytime and evening events, conservation education programs for people of all ages and backgrounds, community outreach to marginalized populations, research that advances understanding of animals in our care and their counterparts in the wild, advocacy and policy work, an award-winning volunteer program, high-impact marketing and communications, and more.

Our values, developed in conjunction with our staff, include commitments to adopting and promoting sustainable practices, creating awe-inspiring experiences, constantly learning and improving, fostering an inclusive community, maintaining scientific credibility through evidence-based practices and honoring our unique place by using our location and history as a lens for larger understanding.

Proudly accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, we’re among the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. by attendance, and we welcome over 850,000 people each year. Guided by our mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment, we’re working to substantially increase our conservation impact by expanding our campus with a new building, the Ocean Pavilion. Learn more at


We anticipate the following recruiting schedule for those candidates who are selected for consideration. The following dates are preliminary and subject to change. We will work with candidates to set interview dates. If hired, relocation assistance is not available.

· Priority given to applications received within the first two weeks of posting.

· Interviews completed by November.

· Start date: ASAP

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