Protected Species Observer Training

Get certified online with MCERC



Protected Species Observer Training

Do you have a love for the sea? Are you interested in a career that allows you to travel all over the globe and observe exciting wildlife? If you’re fearless, work well both independently and with a team, and are willing to work hard, then consider being trained and certified as a Protected Species Observer (PSO) with MCERC!

Our online course curriculum was developed by experienced PSOs and marine biologists that have several years of real world experience working on various types of offshore assignments, and was created in consultation with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fisheries staff.

The content of this program has been reviewed by BSEE, BOEM, and NMFS & deemed compliant under BOEM NTL 2016-G02. Our extensive course involves 40 hours of training over 8 days and will cover:

  • Policy and law related to PSO work on land, vessels, and offshore platforms (and includes an understanding of mitigation during wind farm installations, seismic activities, construction, and research activities)
  • The lifestyle and dynamics of being a PSO in populated and isolated locations, and how to handle living and working aboard vessels
  • The skills necessary to identify protected species of marine megafauna in their natural environment
  • Identifying behaviors of protected species that are important to predicting the potential for interacting with anthropogenic activities, and identify behaviors consistent with the effects of disturbances

What is a PSO?


Protected Species Observers (PSO) are certified professionals trained in protected species identification and monitoring, that are required for industry and research where the potential to disrupt the activities of marine species must be mitigated. PSO may be placed on vessels or platforms to monitor for marine species, and implement mitigation measures during various operations (anything from research and pile driving, to wind farm surveying and installation). Projects vary considerably and may involve projects where you get to go home/to your hotel at the end of the day, or you could be out on a surveying vessel for 30 days. Which projects you take are completely up to you!

  • A resume demonstrating an undergraduate degree in science or equivalent field experience (marine biology, ecology, zoology, wildlife and fisheries, or other related science)
  • A reliable internet connection
  • A reliable computer with a camera and a microphone (or smart phone) to be able to “sit in” on classroom time and upload the assignments
  • A signed ‘Student Contract’, which may be found on the Home Page of the Education Hub in the “Release Forms” folder
What does it cost and where do I enroll?

$350 USD non-refundable

($475 fee – $125 support from MCERC academic funding = $350 fee)

Enrollment takes place on a rolling basis and is open until two days before the course begins. Dates are announced on our website & social media. ENROLL NOW via our Education Hub (under “Open for Enrollment”).

The non-refundable fee allows our program costs to remain low and available to many who wish to have this career training. Thank you for understanding!

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