Studying for a marine biologist career involves certain requirements and following a lot of protocols. Since a degree in marine biology allows a person to gain knowledge about the entire marine fauna and flora, getting an education in the field involves a lot of steadfastness and dedication to not only complete the necessary qualifications but also come out as a professional and dedicated marine biologist.
It is a long and arduous journey to becoming a respectable marine biologist. In order to take up a marine biologist career, one needs to choose subjects such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry and of course – biology during your undergrad years. A degree in marine biology is the safest way to reach your career goals. You will be able to learn all the necessary subjects surrounding marine biology, which involves zoology and other aspects of biology as well. Your life as an undergrad biology student will already give you an idea of how hard the journey will be.
Also, additionally it is important that a person aspiring to take up marine biologist education is proficient in terms of his writing and communication skills. Writing skills are relevant in the context of a marine biologist education because a marine biologist is required to draft extensive notes and observations about the area that he is studying and researching so that others also get to learn crucial and significant things from the same.
Another important thing to consider while taking up a marine biologist degree is about the university that offers the course of marine biology. While choosing a university it is important for the candidate to look out for universities that provide for practical training along with the necessary theoretical know-how.
Marine Biologist Degree
A marine biologist must pursue vigorous education to become eligible to work. The starting point for any student that intends to choose this career path is an undergraduate and graduate study. As an undergrad, you can choose to pursue biology or zoology or choose marine biology. It isn’t necessary that you must choose marine biology during your undergrad years to become a marine biologist. It is also advisable for undergrads to pursue courses related to engineers, mathematics or computer science in addition to natural science education. These subjects can assist heavily in your career and will give you more options to apply yourself in various situations.
Students that pursue a biology program will study subjects such as cell biology, biochemistry, ecology, evolution, etc. Students will be able to choose elective courses that can help them learn about subjects related to their majors like marine zoology or marine ecology. Biology programs also rely heavily on laboratory practicals. This will give the students experience working with lab tools, conducting properly in a lab environment and research protocols to follow.
Students that graduate a bachelor’s degree in marine biology can find jobs in the marine biology field, but career advancements will require higher education. Students will also fail to keep up with their more educated peers unless they put in an extra effort. Pursuing a master’s degree is a wise choice for students to gain confidence in the proficiency of the subjects. Oceanography, biostatistics, marine chemistry, ecosystems and geology are some of the many choices that can help the student specialize in their field of study. The master’s programs will also have electives to choose from which can further help the students improve their necessary skills.
They will also be able to specialize in their subjects of interest like particular marine organisms, for example, fish, mammals, corals, and other marine wildlife. Graduate students will also have to focus on independent research for their thesis; this will act as the gateway to their journey as a marine biologist. Research and documentation are two very important requirements for a scientist. Later on, students may even opt for PhD programs to further develop their research skills and knowledge. A PhD is not necessary but having one is very commendable, and the quality of your dissertation will greatly influence your potential employers.
Marine Biologist Jobs
Some of the important organisations that hire marine bilogists in the United States are:
- NOAA: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
- NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
- EnviroMatrix Analytical, Inc. (EMA)
- AquaBio Environmental Technologies, Inc. AquaBio Environmental Technologies, Inc.
- Nautilus Environmental
An individual can look up for similar organisations in his or her respective country to know more about opportunities for marine biologists.
Different Career Options After Pursuing Marine Biology
After gaining education in the field of marine biology, one can take up different kinds of jobs as mentioned below:
- Marine ecologist and dive operations manager
- Consultant in marine ecology
- Marine biotechnologist
- Fishery data manager
- Environmental engineer
- Marine policy expert.
- Reef restoration project manager
- Marine biology technician
- Research assistant
- Professor in marine ecology
- Postdoctoral fellow
- Oil spill response specialist
A marine biologist has several career options, all of which can provide fruitful compensation and great satisfaction of work. However, to advance in the career domain of your choice, you will need to specialise in a particular subject of your field. Reef ecology, the biology of fisheries, marine pollution, biodiversity, and coastal management are some of the popular choices for a marine biologist to specialise in.
Your success as a marine biologist is completely dependent on your experience and achievements within the field of choice. Education only plays a partial role by helping you break your way into the field. Much like other scientific careers, a marine biologist can expect tons of competition. Hard work and commitment are the only answers to success in this field.
Marine Biologist Education Requirements
As mentioned, earlier, a marine biologist does not have a specific blue-print when it comes to education requirements besides a bachelor’s degree in a related science. Further education will act as a bonus and add more value to the biologist.
Best Marine Biology Colleges
Some of the famous colleges providing courses in marine biology are:
- Duke University in Durham, NC
- ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
- Boston University in Boston, MA
- The University of Maine in Orono, ME
- The Australian National University
- University of Cambridge
Important Books for Marine Biologists
If you are a marine biologist or are planning to become one, then the following books would be really helpful:
- The Unnatural History of the Sea – Prof. Calum Roberts
- Mapping the Deep – Robert Kunzig
- Spirals in Time – Dr. Helen Scales
- Vanished Ocean: How Tethys Reshaped the World – Prof. Dorrik Stow
- The Empty Ocean – Richard Ellis
- Voyage of the Turtle: In pursuit of the Earth’s last dinosaur – Prof. Carl Safina
- Reflections on a Summer Sea – Prof. Trevor Norton
- Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World – Todd McLeish
- Flotsametrics and the floating world – Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer & Eric Scigliano
- A Life Underwater – Dr. Charlie Veron
Marine Biologist Salary
Though there is no particular data on the salary of marine biologists around the world, according to payscale.com, marine biologists across different levels have salary range as mentioned below:
Experience plays a huge role in the success of your career as a marine biologist but your early days will not have low salary either. An entry-level marine biologist with less than five years of experience can expect an average salary of $49,000. This is a significantly high amount to earn for someone starting their way on the field. You can also probably earn more with overtime work, extra projects, etc.
A marine biologist that has been on the field for more than 5 to 10 years can expect an average salary of $51,000. This isn’t all that different from the average entry-level salary, but you can find plenty of top companies that pay higher than this amount. If you have the talent and achievements, then you will easily find more demanding work.
An experienced marine biologist with 10 to 20 years of work experience can expect an average salary of $60,000. This is also relative to your achievements and the company you work for.
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