Marine Biologist – Salary, Education Requirements, and Job Description

Marine Biologist – Salary, Education Requirements, and Job Description

A marine biologist studies the creatures of the sea. They can choose different specialties including studying microscopic organisms, or large ocean animals. Everything from what the sea creatures eat to their habits is covered by marine biologists. The technical definition of a marine biologist is the scientific study of saltwater organisms.

What Does a Marine Biologist Do

Marine biology is a research and learning field, so a lot of individuals work with educational institutions and universities. A large portion of marine biologists is professors and teachers during the winter months. This is because there is not a lot of field work available at this time. The heart of this career centers around research projects. This includes compiling data for research, collecting specimens in the field, teaching in classrooms and using real-life applications. The field of marine biology covers a lot of different areas. A lot of time is spent underwater, in boats, tide pools, aquariums, and laboratories.

how much does a marine biologist make

The Job Description

Despite the variation in the field, there are specific jobs more common for a marine biologist. This includes:

  • Working in a zoo or an aquarium
  • Working with dolphins, whales or pinnipeds
  • Working in a rehabilitation or rescue facility
  • Studying small organisms including microbes, nudibranchs or sponges
  • Conducting research in medicine and neuroscience
  • The study of shellfish
  • Raising animals including mussels and oysters in an aquaculture environment
  • Researching a specific marine species
  • Studying the notions and behavior of a specific marine species
  • Teaching at a college or university

How to Become a Marine Biologist

The training and education required for a marine biologist depend on the type of work the individuals plans to undertake. The education requirements and training are often extensive and require numerous years. The minimum requirement for this career is a bachelor’s degree. For many different fields of marine biology, a Master’s degree, post-doctorate degree or Ph.D. are required. The jobs in this field are extremely competitive. Many individuals find having practical, outside experience is helpful. They secure volunteer positions, outside study positions and internships to help earn a rewarding job.

How Much Does a Marine Biologist Make

Despite the years of training and schooling, a marine biologist must complete, their salary is not as high as many professionals. For a marine biologist working in the academic sector, the average salary is between $45,000 and $110,000 each year. This is one of the highest paying fields for a marine biologist. Salaries in other sectors have a lot of variation. The pay rate depends on the employer, the duties, the level of experience, the position, and numerous additional factors.

Marine Biology Schooling

Some of the marine biologists studied topics in addition to marine biology. According to the Southwest Fisheries Science Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, many marine biologists choose to join the field of fishery biologists. Of the students who completed graduate work, 45 percent achieved a B.S. in Biology, and 28 percent in zoology. Additional fields studied included:

  • Oceanography
  • Conservation
  • Fisheries
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Animal sciences
  • Biological oceanography
  • Marine biology
  • Biology

A small percentage of these marine biologists earned their Master’s degree in statistics, physical oceanography, animal sciences or ecology. The most common topics studied by marine biologists who earned their Ph.D. were economics, operations research, statistics and political science.