A volunteer speaks with visitors at the Reef Lagoon.

Learn more about who our volunteers are, why they donate their time, and what benefits they receive in return. And if you have a question we haven't answered below, please don't hesitate to contact us directly.

Who are Academy volunteers?

Academy volunteers mirror the diversity of the Bay Area and identify deeply with the Academy’s mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. They're also all over the age of 18. Some have extensive science backgrounds, others, none at all. The Academy welcomes a wide range of skills, interests, talents, and backgrounds; we'd love to learn more about yours.


Why volunteer?

Many volunteers are interested in building specialized skills and experience as part of a professional path; others are drawn primarily to the opportunity to inspire others. All are sustainability-minded, enthusiastic about the natural sciences, and enjoy the company of kindred spirits.


What are the benefits of volunteering?

Volunteers are encouraged to develop new skills and explore their personal interests, all while enabling the Academy to accomplish far more than staff would be able to do alone. Volunteering is also a great way to meet other people and connect with the local community.

Did you know studies also show that volunteering is great for your physical health and sense of well-being? What a great way to spend a few hours each week!


Do I need a background in science?

Not necessarily. If you hope to volunteer in our research departments or in some areas of the aquarium, it is helpful to be familiar with relevant terminology and equipment, but there are many opportunities for volunteers without specific experience. In most cases, enthusiasm and a willingness to help is all that is needed.


Are all volunteer candidates accepted?

While Volunteer Services works hard to place each and every applicant, it's not always possible to find an assignment that is a fit for both the applicant and staff.


What days and hourly commitments are required from volunteers?

While some volunteer positions vary in commitment, many ask for a commitment of at least six months to a year. Time commitments, and the days on which those hours are required, vary by volunteer position. Many shifts are available on weekdays with more limited options on weekends.


Are there any fees associated with becoming an Academy volunteer?

Volunteering at the Academy is free, but Academy docents are asked to pay a nominal fee for program materials.


Is there a matching gifts program?

Yes! Some employers donate money to the Academy to "match" their employees' volunteer hours. Visit our Matching Gifts page to see if your employer participates.


How do I get started?

If you are interested in volunteering, please complete our online application. We will be reviewing your application alongside the skills, qualifications and requirements for the volunteer position. If you are selected to be interviewed, we will contact you directly. Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications we receive we may not be able to reach everyone directly. Please note that response timelines vary due to many factors. We appreciate your patience during this process and thank you for your interest in contributing to the Academy!

Contact us
Still have questions about volunteering? Feel free to contact us:
Academy Volunteer Programs Team
Volunteering at the Academy

Prospective volunteers, we offer a wide range of opportunities to match nearly any interest, whether your preference is helping visitors to explore our exhibits, preparing specimens in our research collections, or caring for our aquarium tanks.