In this article, we will be taking you through the marine biologist job description, including the many qualifications and degrees a marine biologist needs. Hopefully, we can inspire you to follow in this career path if you love marine life and ecosystems.
The job of a marine biologist includes studying marine life, as well as a variety of individual duties that can vary depending on what job you aspire to. These jobs include developing experiments, research, and making plans to help better the lives of aquatic creatures.
Job Overview: What Does a Marine Biologist Do?
A marine biologist is a scientist who studies marine organisms. Although most marine biologists work hand-in-hand with marine life such as whales or fish, others work primarily on marine life habitats. The many different jobs that marine biologists have vary according to what type of species they are working on. For example, if a marine biologist needs to study wildlife, they will go out in the field, whereas if they need to study evidence, they will work in a research laboratory. However, the vast majority of marine biologists work in both fields.
Marine Biologist Job Duties
Although the primary duties a marine biologist performs vary, below is a full list of the duties a marine biologist has:
- Collect field samples of marine biological material for analysis.
- Research content to help better discoveries in their field.
- Research the evolution of environments in the ocean.
- Conduct research on behaviors of marine life in the ocean.
- Track and research marine life depending on ocean life.
- Help rebuild deteriorating marine ecosystems.
- Develop computer models to determine the potential of marine ecosystems.
- Help the coast guard and fisheries management.
- Monitor marine environmental impact.
Marine Biologist Job Essential Skills
Critical thinking. In order to study the life of marine habitats and make decisions regarding their life expectation and the main ways in which this can be increased, the marine biologist job description stresses critical thinking.
Mathematics and science. Calculating things and looking at things from a highly scientific perspective is a must-have for any marine biologist.
Writing and speaking. Marine biologists have to know how to write about their research and present it in an eloquent way.
Adobe Photoshop and Excel experience. Most marine biologists will also work with these two programs during their research.
Gene Codes Sequencer and Visual Molecular Dynamics experience. These two programs help marine biologists with their research and are something they can’t go without in their careers.
Experience with centrifuges, pipettes, and microscopes. There’s also a more practical side to the job of a marine biologist, which includes working with machines such as microscopes and centrifuges to observe marine organisms and their habitats.
Becoming a Marine Biologist
Becoming a marine biologist is no easy task. Starting out, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in a marine biology program at a reputable institution. Following that, you can either pursue a master’s or Ph.D. in higher education courses in marine biology.
Then, you need to start an internship that can help you land an official job at a marine biology company. To learn more about becoming a marine biologist, read the sections below.
Qualifications & Training
The marine biologist job description requires higher education courses. First, you have to get your bachelor’s degree. Many colleges and universities offer a marine biology program. These programs usually include courses in biology, ecology, evolution, and more. They also offer courses that let you specialize even further. If your preferred school does not have a marine biology program, you can still learn about marine biology by taking specialized elective courses.
You can choose to end your education after you earn your bachelor’s degree. With this degree, you will likely still be able to find an entry level job working for the government or a nonprofit organization. However, after you receive your bachelor’s degree, you may decide to continue your education and receive your master’s degree.
Some schools even offer programs that combine the bachelor’s and master’s degree, which allows you to get ahead and earn both degrees in less time. Master’s degree courses generally cover lab methods, research techniques and equipment, and science writing.
You can also take more specialized classes on subjects like Pacific Ocean coral reefs. At the end of the master’s program, you will have determined your specialization within the field of marine biology. Having a master’s degree will qualify you for higher paying jobs.
If you wish to get a job teaching at a university or working at an independent research facility, you will likely need to obtain a Ph.D. In your Ph.D. program, you will take classes on specific topics (such as marine microbiology) and conduct an independent research project. You will then need to write a dissertation based on your research and present it to a Ph.D. advisory committee. You will need to teach undergraduate courses and pass exams in order to graduate. Getting a Ph.D. can lead to even higher paying jobs.
There are no additional licenses or certifications necessary in order to get a job as a marine biologist.
Though it may seem like getting a job without any work experience is impossible, it is, in fact, very possible. This is where your academic experience really comes into play. Internships and research projects can make up for your lack of work experience. Networking can also help you land your first job. Though this field is very competitive, you will be able to find an entry level job with little work experience.
When working as a marine biologist, there really is no such thing as a regular day. This is largely because of the variety of subject areas within the field. An average day may include things like diving in the ocean, working in a laboratory, doing computer work, or writing a report. Some jobs may even involve teaching college level students interested in becoming marine biologists too. Because of this variety, the working hours can be abnormal and you may end up working more or less than 40 hours a week.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
Between the years 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics believes that employment of all wildlife biologists will only increase by 4%. This is a lower percentage than the average occupation in the U.S. Employment for marine biologists is already very competitive. Most of the jobs are provided by the federal and state government, but there are also plenty of jobs with private companies, including universities and aquariums.
The U.S. BLS found that the average salary of a marine biologist was $59,680 in 2015. All marine biologists must have at least a bachelor’s degree. To qualify for higher paying jobs, you will also need either a master’s degree or a Ph.D. In this respect, it is definitely worth investing your time and money into getting a higher degree.
Though it is a difficult process, becoming a marine biologist can be a very rewarding career choice. With such an interesting and exciting job, the hard work is worth it. We hope the marine biologist job description provided today has helped you realize how fascinating this career can be.