How to Become a Marine Biologist
Marine Biology is a field of study and research dedicated to organisms and ecosystems of the sea. The job title of marine biologist could apply to a wide variety of different job types. A marine biologist could choose from a variety of career paths; they might find themselves working as a dolphin trainer, as a researcher in the area of sea life, or a part of a project to protect wildlife.
One thing that all marine biologists have in common is a strong interest in the ocean and its ecosystems, as well as an aptitude for research, and a deep passion for animals and their welfare.
Education Requirements to Become a Marine Biologist
The best starting point to become a marine biologist would be to complete a college degree with a major in biology. Other science subjects in areas like chemistry and physics will also be helpful. You don't necessarily need to attend a college who has a stream dedicated to marine biology, in fact, at this point of your career it is more important to get a good grasp of the sciences. Instead, look for a college that is strong in science, but has a marine faculty where you can work and gain experience. Being in the presence of qualified marine biologists will be inspiring, as well as very beneficial.
Most marine biologists go on to graduate school, this is the best time to specialize. By now you will have a very strong background in other sciences, and be best equipped to take on studies in marine biology.
If you're planning a to become a marine biologist, it's also important to not only gain academic qualifications, but also experience. If you're in high school or college, look to complete some work experience in a local aquarium, marina, or wildlife society. Even if you live nowhere near the ocean, you can still look for conservation societies in your area where you can volunteer. You will still be learning relevant skills and gaining experience.
Marine Biologist Job Description
- Training mammals such as dolphins and whales
- Working in an aquarium
- Conducting research programs
- Conducting education programs
- Animal rescue and rehabilitation
- Protecting endangered animals and eco-systems
There is no typical role for a marine biologist, while one may spend their career conducting research at a university, another may spend it on the field, spending extended periods at sea. Some mammal trainers will work in zoos and aquariums, both caring for and training mammals, as well as interacting with the public.
Marine Biologist Salary and Career Path
Marine biologists may work at colleges and universities, for government departments, or for zoos and sea parks. Most will complete a postgraduate degree, then seek an entry level job at one of these organizations.
For instance, if you were interested in research, you would look for a position at a college with a strong marine biology program. If you wanted to train dolphins, you would look for a role at an aquarium or sea park. While you might not be in your ideal role right away, with time and experience you will be able to get the job you want. Being in the right kind of organization is important.
Later in their careers, many marine biologists take the opportunity to teach, or work in other areas of science and biology. Those in areas of tourism may do on to management or administrative positions.
Just as the type of work a marine biologist may do is varied, so it the expected salary. Once you become a marine biologist you could expect to earn anywhere between $30,000 and $80,000 per year.
While working as a marine biologist is no doubt a stimulating and rewarding career, it is also a challenging one. Job opportunities for marine biologists are limited, so to be successful you will need to be prepared to put in the hard work. If you would like a career in this area, it's important to start working towards it early. Taking math and science subjects in high school and college is important. Being involved in activities that complement you career choice is important too. Working in conservation groups, or any experience or part-time jobs that relate to sea life will be very highly regarded later on.
One of the best aspects of becoming a marine biologist is that you will have the power to make a genuine difference to the environment, as well as many endangered species. If this is where your passion lies, then a career in marine biology may be the right choice for you.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics