- Hands-on work in fisheries management
- Work outdoors
- Promotional opportunities
- Outstanding benefits packages
- Stable salary
- Professional development training
- Paid time off and sick leave
- Statewide transfer opportunities
About Colorado’s State Fish Hatcheries
There are 16 State Fish Hatcheries in some of the most scenic parts of Colorado. View the Fish Hatchery Map to learn more about each hatchery.
Conservation. Preservation. Recreation.
Fisheries management predates all other wildlife management activities in Colorado. The first Colorado wildlife law passed in 1861, and it addressed overfishing: “It is unlawful to take trout by seine, net, basket or trap.” The first wildlife official in Colorado was Colonel Wilson E. Sisty, who became the State Fish Commissioner in 1877.
Today, Fish Hatchery Technicians are responsible for the aquaculture of 56 separate strains of fish, and raise and stock over 90 million fish every year. Hatchery employees contribute to the preservation of threatened and endangered species such as boreal toads and pikeminnows.
Fishing license sales are a major source of funding for wildlife management programs, and often a person’s first introduction to outdoor recreation comes when they’re holding a fishing pole.
Start Your Fish Hatchery Career
Many Fish Hatchery Technicians started as temporary employees assisting Fish Hatchery Technicians and learning fish production techniques first-hand. Three years of aquaculture or fish propagation experience is required for permanent jobs. Education in a field such as fisheries biology or aquaculture can substitute for the experience.
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Fish Hatchery Technicians monitor and maintain the right environment for fish - raising them from eggs and stocking over 90 million in lakes and streams each year. Depending on which of the 16 hatcheries they work in, technicians raise cold water fish such as trout, warm water fish like bass or catfish, or threatened and endangered native aquatic species such as pikeminnows and boreal toads. Technicians drive and operate heavy equipment to transport fish and maintain facilities, keep precise records on fish production, and educate hatchery visitors on fish biology and the latest fish culture techniques.
This is an entry-level position with a competitive starting salary, plus standard state employment benefits.
Promotional Opportunities – With 16 hatcheries across Colorado and management opportunities in each one, as well as other career fields within the Colorado Parks & Wildlife, career advancement is within your reach. To meet the minimum requirements for an Assistant Hatchery Manager, four years of aquaculture experience is required. After five years of aquaculture experience, a Fish Hatchery Technician is eligible to apply for the Hatchery Manager position. Academic experience in a field relevant to fisheries biology or aquaculture can be credited on a year-for-year basis for the experience requirement.
When pursuing promotions, it is often to your advantage to be willing to move from one hatchery to another to accept a management position. As with other jobs, excellent communication and planning skills are essential. Promotions are based on merit, and not seniority.
To learn more about where Fish Hatchery Technicians work, visit the Hatcheries page.
Education or Experience
Three years of work experience involving aquaculture, propagating, and/or rearing fish, fish culture, collecting and recording of aquatic wildlife data, professional aquatic research, or aquatic biology.
Substitutions – Academic experience in aquaculture, biology, fisheries research or biology, or a closely related field can be credited on a year-for-year basis for the required experience. Experience operating power tools and heavy equipment is a plus. A good way to gain experience is temporary or volunteer work at a fish hatchery.
Necessary requirements – Possession of a valid State of Colorado driver’s license is required, and a CDL may be required for some positions.
People Skills – Good skills working with the public, speaking in public and interacting with people of all ages, interests, viewpoints and backgrounds.