Employment opportunities for students in science

Note

You may apply to job opportunities within Fisheries and Oceans Canada through a public service jobs account.

Join us if you're interested in ocean science and technology, and are eager to help preserve Canada's marine ecosystems for future generations. Find out what a job with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) can look like, from a laboratory or field station to the rolling sea.

Fields of research

There are many types of student jobs in the Science Sector. The following are student job descriptions based on aquatic science domains or programs.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture

Interested in a student employment opportunity in aquaculture science? Want to be part of an aquatic sciences team? Want to work with aquaculture researchers or technicians of various scientific knowledge and expertise?

Aquaculture science (fish and shellfish health) means:

  • conducting live in vivo work with aquatic animals
  • sampling biological materials
  • performing analysis using a variety of techniques

Your duties will vary depending on:

  • where you work (such as a science facility)
  • which specific research projects you're assigned
  • who you work with

Under guided supervision, you may have opportunities to:

  • do field work either in shallow waters or using small embarcations
    • this type of work includes netting, collecting animals, installing instruments or taking measurements
  • prepare materials for necropsy of animals, such as labelled bags, tubes, preservatives and record sheets
  • perform necropsy on animals and sampling tissues for specific analysis
  • work in a wet laboratory, such as in aquariums or tanks to conduct husbandry in animals
    • this includes feeding, cleaning and recording various parameters
  • work in a laboratory environment performing analytical techniques, such as histology, virology, microbiology and molecular biology
  • prepare media and reagents
  • maintain laboratory equipment
  • record information and data

We'll also provide you with training opportunities on specific laboratory and scientific protocols. Additionally, being part of a team, you may:

  • participate in operational meetings
  • contribute in ensuring that operational requirements of your work unit are followed
  • assist with identifying and reporting deficiencies
  • suggest solutions or improvements to your supervisor and colleagues

We're looking for reliable, detail-oriented, organized, resourceful, self-starting and forward-thinking students. Join our team in aquaculture science! Apply today!

Aquatic invasive species

Aquatic invasive species

Have you ever wondered why some non-indigenous species arrive, survive, establish and spread within Canada's marine and freshwater ecosystems? Are you interested in understanding the population dynamics and ecological impacts of aquatic invasive species? Do you want to learn how to predict the future spread of aquatic invasive species? Are you interested in learning about how aquatic invasive species can be controlled and eradicated?

Canadian marine and freshwater ecosystems are under threat from the introduction and establishment of aquatic invasive species. In addition to negatively influencing biodiversity and ecosystem services, species can have direct and long-lasting effects on Canada's economy and industry. Notable examples include species on the east and west coasts, such as:

  • European green crab
  • sea lamprey and zebra mussel in the Great Lakes

Aquatic invasive species research aims to understand how species arrive, survive, establish, and spread within Canada's aquatic ecosystems. Research is also conducted to understand the ecological impacts of these species, such as the way they interact with native species and habitats. To prevent the arrival of new species, research often includes conducting ecological risk assessments to understand which new species are at risk of invading Canada's ecosystems.

DFO is at the forefront of conducting research to understand how to control and eradicate aquatic invasive species. A good example is research to support Canada's Sea Lamprey Control Program. Its goal is to control the abundance of sea lamprey in the Great Lakes and, in so doing, reduce its ecological impact on large fish.

Aquatic invasive species research spans field, laboratory and computer activities. As a student researcher in aquatic invasive species research, you'll work with research technicians, biologists and scientists to measure and evaluate populations of invasive fish, invertebrates and plants.

Aquatic invasive species research at DFO can include:

  • estimating the abundance and composition of invasive fish with tools like electrofishing, seine netting or hoop netting
  • collecting information about invasive plants and invertebrates using different field collection methods
  • evaluating relationships between the survival and establishment of invasive species and environmental factors
  • evaluating the ecological impacts of aquatic invasive species, such as changes in the composition and abundance of native fish, invertebrates and their habitats
  • developing new approaches to control and eradicate existing aquatic invasive species
  • field and laboratory research to inform ecological risk assessments of aquatic invasive species

We're seeking motivated individuals with scientific backgrounds to help solve current research challenges in aquatic invasive species. Apply today!

Freshwater ecology

Freshwater ecology

Are you interested in studying freshwater ecosystems? Do you want to develop expertise conducting field, laboratory and computer-based research to gain insight into the ecology of Canada's lakes, rivers and streams? Have you ever wondered how freshwater ecosystems respond to large-scale environmental stressors?

Freshwater ecosystems are some of the most productive environments on earth, but are threatened by environmental stressors, such as climate change and habitat modification. Freshwater ecology research at DFO aims to understand how ecosystems work by studying their composition, structure and function.

Ecosystem composition refers to the variety of species that exist in the freshwater environment, such as fish, invertebrates and aquatic plants. It also includes their habitat features, which are the physical, chemical and biotic components of the environment that support aquatic organisms. Ecosystem structure and function refers to the way these components interact. In particular, it refers to the determining factors that control community and population dynamics of aquatic species.

In addition to understanding how ecosystems function, freshwater ecology research at DFO aims to understand the effect of environmental stressors on ecosystems, such as:

  • how aquatic communities respond to climate change
  • habitat alteration
  • disease
  • aquatic invasive species

Research is often conducted to understand how to mitigate or reverse the effect of stressors, such as through habitat restoration.

As a student researcher in freshwater ecology, you'll work with research technicians, biologists and scientists to:

  • measure and evaluate freshwater ecosystems in the field
  • analyze results in the laboratory and with computer-based methods

Freshwater ecology research at DFO can include:

  • measuring the abundance and composition of fish with tools like electrofishing, seine netting or hoop netting
  • using stable isotope analysis to understand how food webs interact
  • evaluating the abundance and composition of plankton with fine-mesh plankton nets
  • measuring the health of plankton using microscope methods
  • evaluating fish habitat using physical methods and automated survey methods, such as sonar and lidar
  • measuring and evaluating ecosystem stressors, such as the response of fish populations to habitat change
  • understanding how aquatic communities respond to restoration actions, such as fish, invertebrates, plants and their habitat features

We're seeking motivated individuals with scientific backgrounds to help solve current research challenges in freshwater ecology. Apply today!

Genomics

Genomics

Interested in a student employment opportunity in aquatic genomic science? Want to be part of aquatic sciences team? Want to work with researchers or technicians of various scientific knowledge and expertise?

DFO is involved in large-scale genetics and genomics research on many aquatic species, including salmon, with the goal to identify:

  • stock composition in fisheries
  • conditional states of physiology
  • microbes that may exacerbate the performance of fish, such as during transitions between fresh and saltwater

Students may be required to travel on boats and conduct field collections. In addition, you may be expected to participate in at least one 2- to 3-week boat cruise during your tenure.

As a student, you'll assist in ongoing research on the role of genes and microbes in early ocean productivity of fish. Students have the opportunity to learn about functional genomics research through:

  • NextGen Sequencing (Ion Torrent and MySeq platforms)
  • bioinformatics
  • running molecular assays (qPCR)
  • assisting in field and boat collections
  • organizing field collection inventories

Others duties may include:

  • DNA extractions
  • sample prep for RNA extractions
  • fish dissections
  • labelling and sampling preparation
  • preparing a research paper that summarizes results and analyses

We're looking for reliable, detail-oriented, organized, resourceful, self-starting and forward-thinking students. Do you have experience in a genetics or genomics laboratory, or documented laboratory experience in molecular biology? Are you willing to travel and sample on board boats? Do you have an interest in genomics research as well as biochemistry or molecular biology?

Join our DFO team in genomics science! Apply today!

Hydrography

Hydrography

Interested in a student employment opportunity in Hydrography? Want to be part of the world-renowned Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) at DFO?

The CHS is a world leader in the development of electronic charting and methods for undersea mapping of Canada's waters, including the Canadian Arctic. A CHS hydrographer:

  • collects data, and publishes and distributes hydrographic information, such as:
    • electronic and paper navigational charts
    • sailing directions
    • predicted tides and current tables
    • related publications about Canada's offshore, coastal and inland waters
  • provides professional advice and services related to hydrography
  • develops and refines methodologies, technologies and standards needed to carry out hydrographic activities

The CHS offers science professionals and students the opportunity to become a certified hydrographer through the multidisciplinary hydrographer (MDH) training program. The MDH national career plan allows new hydrographers to achieve a senior position after 4 years of formal study, course work and practical field training. Candidates for MDH training will have 1 of the following qualifications:

  • a diploma in surveying, cartography, geomatics or a related discipline from a technical college
  • a university degree in applied science, including geodesy, geomatics, survey engineering, geography, geographic information systems (GIS) or a related discipline
  • a certificate of registration or a commission as a land surveyor

We're looking for reliable, detail-oriented, organized, resourceful, self-starting and forward-thinking students. Join our team at the Canadian Hydrographic Service! Apply today!

Marine ecology

Marine ecology

Looking to enhance your knowledge and experience in marine science?

Marine ecology is a broad field that incorporates working with benthic and pelagic species as well as critical habitats to understand the health and ecological status of the marine ecosystems. Changing anthropogenic and climatic impacts on marine species and ecosystems are leading to greater need to study these ecological interactions in order to promote and protect healthy aquatic ecosystems in which biodiversity can thrive.

Working under the supervision of a marine scientist, tasks may include:

  • field work on various sized vessels to collect environmental samples, such as:
    • sediment cores
    • water samples
    • biological samples
  • deployment and recovery of instruments measuring:
    • currents
    • salinity
    • temperature
    • other physical parameters
  • taxonomic identification of benthic organisms, such as invertebrates
  • processing fish species and recording their physiological characteristics in order to study fish populations and the impacts causing changes in population dynamics
  • laboratory work using various specialized pieces of equipment to determine the geochemical nature of the benthic ecology of environments with varying seabed types and varying biological communities
  • monitoring certain species or habitats which have been shown to be important in sustaining healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems

Skills required include:

  • working effectively as part of a team
  • willingness to work in varying environmental conditions for extended periods of time
  • being detail-oriented

You'll have the potential to gain new skills and knowledge on a variety of scientific procedures related to sampling and analyzing ecological samples. This is an opportunity to take part in science which will provide evidence-based knowledge and advice on topics such as:

  • marine conservation
  • ecosystem stressors and their cumulative impacts on marine ecosystems
  • sustaining healthy aquatic ecosystems

Join the Science Sector at DFO in exploring and studying our marine ecology! Apply today!

Oceanography

Oceanography

Interested in student employment opportunities in oceanography and unravelling the mysteries of the world ocean?

Oceanography is the study of the ocean and a multidisciplinary field of science covering a wide range of topics, including:

  • marine life and ecosystems
  • ocean circulation
  • the chemical and physical properties of the ocean

From research and monitoring, oceanographers provide information on the state of our oceans and advice on important issues, such as climate change and shifts in marine ecosystems.

At DFO, we carry out research and monitoring in:

  • biological oceanography
  • chemical oceanography
  • physical oceanography

However, Natural Resources Canada is the lead federal agency for geological oceanography. Most oceanographic processes and questions cut across disciplines and require knowledge in more than one field.

Biological oceanographers study plants and animals in the marine environment, from the base to the top of the food web. This helps us understand and provide advice on the functioning of the marine ecosystem and how:

  • it's changing
  • organisms relate to one another and interact with their environment

Chemical oceanographers study the composition of seawater and its chemical processes and cycles, including:

  • interactions with the atmosphere and seafloor
  • analysis of seawater components
  • the fate and behaviour of pollutants
  • the impacts on marine organisms
  • how ocean currents move seawater around the globe
  • how the ocean affects climate

Physical oceanographers study the physical conditions and processes within the ocean, such as:

  • waves
  • currents
  • tides
  • the interactions of the atmosphere and the ocean by examining deep currents
  • the relationship that influences weather and climate
  • the transmission of light and sound through water
  • the ocean's interactions with its boundaries at the seafloor and the coast

To accomplish their work, oceanographers use:

  • field observations
  • laboratory and field experiments
  • computer models

As a student in oceanography, you'll work under a scientist assisting with one or more of these tasks. Depending on the project, you may need skills specific to the field. You may need:

  • a statistics and/or computing background
  • the ability to work effectively as a member of a team
  • a willingness to work in varying environmental conditions at sea or in the field

As an oceanography student with DFO, you'll have an opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge in a variety of areas. You'll also learn the importance of oceanography in providing evidence-based information and advice to the government on a broad range of issues of importance to Canada and the world. Come join our team! Apply today!

Species at risk

Species at risk

Have you ever wondered why some species are rare and others are common? Are you interested in understanding the population dynamics of, and threats to, Canada's endangered marine and freshwater species? Do you want to gain expertise conducting research on endangered, threatened and special concern fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals and their habitats within Canada?

Canadian freshwater ecosystems contain over 100 freshwater and marine species listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), 2002. Research conducted in species at risk science supports the assessment, protection and recovery of Canada's imperiled species, including by determining how recovery actions should be undertaken.

Canada's imperiled species are threatened due to human activities, which include:

  • habitat modification, such as:
    • alteration of flow regimes
    • dredging
    • landcover change
  • the introduction of aquatic invasive species
  • fishing mortality
  • climate change

Species at risk science at DFO aims to understand the factors influencing Canada's imperiled species, and to determine how listed species can be best protected. A core component of species at risk science is the identification of critical habitat, a legal requirement under SARA.

The 4 main research themes in species at risk science are:

  1. population ecology, which involves understanding the distribution, abundance, biotic interactions and genetics of listed species
  2. habitat-related research, which involves understanding the habitat features necessary to support different life stages
  3. threat research, such as understanding how populations respond to different environmental perturbations, and ways to mitigate these threats
  4. research to support the recovery of listed species, such as developing restoration targets

As a student researcher in species at risk science, you'll work with research technicians, biologists and scientists to measure and evaluate populations of at-risk fish, invertebrates and marine mammals in the field. You'll help us to quantify species habitat and analyze results in the laboratory and with computer-based methods.

Species at risk research at DFO can include:

  • estimating the abundance and composition of imperiled populations with tools like electrofishing, seine netting or hoop netting
  • evaluating relationships between population abundance and habitat quality to inform critical habitat designations
  • evaluating the quantity and health of critical habitat using physical and automated methods
  • quantifying threats to endangered populations, such as the role of climate variability and a range of habitat perturbations
  • conducting tagging studies to understand where, when and how populations are responding to environmental change

We're seeking motivated individuals with scientific backgrounds to help solve current research challenges in species at risk science. Apply today!

Stock Assessment

Stock assessment

Are you curious about how many fish are actually in the ocean? Stock assessment science may be right for you!

Stock assessment is critical work and the results inform DFO about:

  • the status of commercial fish stocks from one fishing season to the next
  • what are sustainable harvest levels
  • the health of the marine ecosystem

A fundamental principle of stock assessment advice is that there should be enough fish left in a stock to spawn healthy new generations for the future after fishing and deaths from natural causes.

There are 2 components to stock assessment science at DFO.

  1. Data collection: technicians and biologists go out to sea and collect data on fish populations such as numbers of juveniles, age, length, sex and breeding condition.
    • Data used in stock assessments also comes from other sources, including landings at ports and catch rates from fishers.
  2. Converting data to advice: research scientists take the fisheries data and turn it into advice.
    • They do this by taking the data and constructing mathematical and statistical models to convert the data into fish population estimates.

Your duties would vary depending on where you work in Canada. Under guided supervision, you may have opportunities to:

  • collect biological data on fish populations, including lengths, weights and otoliths at sea
  • age fish using otoliths, stomach content analysis and genetic studies in the laboratory
  • run stock assessment models, analyze data and write code in the computer laboratory

We're looking for passionate, detail-oriented, organized and resourceful students. Join our team in stock assessment science! Apply today!

Student recruitment programs

The Science Sector at DFO conducts leading edge research through our science facilities. You can be part of our oceans science team and help impact our climate, economy, health and culture for the future.

We offer amazing opportunities to work among top scientists through student research programs. A student research term offers benefits such as:

  • participation in world class research projects
  • mentoring and guidance from Canada's top research directors
  • a knowledge transfer program that will connect you with senior staff for up to a year

The following links will help you get connected with ocean science activities and student opportunities available through the Government of Canada student recruitment programs:

Our scientists at work

Science students on the job

Meet some of our students working in the Science Sector.

Science at Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Highlights of the Science Sector’s work across Canada, at sea, on land and in the air.

Our scientists from coast to coast

Video series showcasing the scientists who research our oceans and aquatic systems, sustainable fisheries, and safe and accessible waterways.

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