Certification Program

AALSO offers a multi-level operator competency acknowledgement program based on exams created and administered by the AALSO Certification Committee.

Levels one, two or three are awarded to any zoo or aquarium life support operator who successfully passed the respective exam covering established criteria for that level. The examinations acknowledge general Life Support and Water Quality theory and operational procedures ranging from basic to advanced duties. Life Support topics include: sand filtration, biological filtration, chemical filtration, system disinfection, automated control systems,cathodic protection, common system components,, safety, pump curves and trouble shooting, pool volume calculations, filter surface area calculations, and pool turnover rate calculations. Water Quality topics include: lab safety, USDA regulations, common laboratory equipment, theory and operation of analytical testing, quality assurance and assessment, solutions preparation and applications using chemicals to achieve desired water quality parameters.

AALSO believes that it is appropriate to develop recognition criteria and a proficiency program that encourages Zoo and Aquarium institutions to incorporate these training criteria into their operator development program.

Please take the time to download the study guide incorporates study material for those preparing for examinations. The field guide is a peer-reviewed manual prepared by the AALSO education committees that serves as an in-depth reference for Life Support Operators and Water Quality Technicians. All additional information will be covered in the classroom sessions that occur throughout the symposium. Please see the symposium agenda for the schedule of certification preparation courses for Life Support Operator and Water Quality Technician Levels I, II & III, as well as test times.

Exam Information / FAQs

  1. Operators must be present at the symposium to take the exam or be attending an Education and Training (EaT) extension program.
  2. Operators must pass the preceding, lower level test (with a score greater than 70%) before attempting the next level.
  3. The exams are timed. Operators will be allotted 60 minutes to complete the Level I & II examinations and 90 minutes to complete Level III.
  4. The AALSO Field Guide, the smaller study guide and notes taken during the study sessions are permitted for use during the exam.
  5. Calculators will be provided for the operator. No outside calculators, smart phones, computers or any other electronic device are permitted for use while taking the exam.
  6. All answers are to be filled into the answer sheet, however, the operator may write in the test booklet and on paper provided. All test materials provided by AALSO must be returned and destroyed following the exam.
  7. Any operator caught cheating will be excused and their AALSO membership may be revoked by the AALSO Board.
  8. Operators that pass will be given their certificate of completion at the Certification Banquet, which occurs on Wednesday evening after the exam. All scores, pass or fail, will be posted to the operator’s’ individual membership information on the website within two weeks of the symposium’s conclusion.

For more information regarding the certification examinations, please download the Exam Handbook.

An AALSO examination certificate of completion is not a guarantee of employment. It exists solely to acknowledge competency and knowledge of life support systems operation, design, regulatory guidelines, and water quality for aquaria. The certificate of completion does not guarantee a merit increase for the operator, as this is at the sole discretion of the operator’s employer.

For additional information please contact: info@aalso.org

Feedback from AALSO Members

  • “AALSO membership and certification are two criteria I take into account when hiring new life support operators. I want all of the operators at our institution to become certified.”
  • “The certification program is on course. The study guide was well done. I believe building confidence in that Level 1 operator through a certification program is the most important objective of AALSO. That Level 1 operator is the future AALSO.“
  • The certification program is great! I personally place a lot of value on this program, and hope to see it continue and expand.
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