How to become

How to Become a Marine Biologist

How to Become a Marine Biologist


The study of diverse species that live in the earth’s saltwater environments is known as marine biology.

Marine biology is a branch of science focused on ocean life studies. Marine biologists basically study the behavior of marine animals, physiological processes of different species, and the various habitats and environments found in the ocean, and also examine how human actions impact marine life. These professionals also explore various and viable solutions to problems like:

  • global warming and rising of sea levels
  • oxygen depletion in the earth’s oceans
  • widespread chemical and plastic pollution

Some marine biologists work with marine animals like fish and whales, while others study the activities and habitats of marine plant life or microscopic organisms. Marine biologists vary in the types of organisms they study, and also in the ways they do their work. Some Marine Biologists work out in the field conducting observation or doing preservation activities, while there are others who work in research laboratories, and many of them work in both types of settings.

Marine Biologists research may focus on marine ecology, conservation, and understanding the evolution, behavior, and physiology of marine organisms.

To study Marine Biology and make a career in Marine Biology will involve certain requirements and following a lot of protocols.

A degree in marine biology will allow a person to gain knowledge about the entire marine fauna and flora. Getting an education in Marine Biology will involve a lot of steadfastness and dedication. And not just completing the necessary qualifications is important but also one should come out as a professional and dedicated Marine Biologist.

Becoming a respectable Marine Biologist is a long and laborious journey. If one wants to take up a Marine Biologist career, then one will require to choose subjects like:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • And of course – Biology during your undergrad years

The safest way to reach your career goals is a degree in marine biology.

You will also be able to learn all the required subjects that surround Marine Biology, which will involve 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, 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 also required in the context of a Marine Biologist Education as a Marine Biologist will have to draft extensive notes and observations about the area that he is studying and researching, for others so that they get to learn crucial and significant things from their study and research.

The next very important thing to consider is, the university that offers the course of Marine Biology, while taking up a Marine Biologist degree. When selecting a university it is very important for the candidate to look out for the universities that provide practical training along with the required theoretical knowledge.

What Is Marine Biology?

Like most of us know that scientists study about living things such as: animals and plants or nonliving things such as: rocks and minerals, and if you like living things and you also want to help them and learn about them, then you are most likely interested in studying biology, and this where the question arises that what kind of biologist you want to become? 

  • Would you be an animal biologist or 
  • Would you be a plant biologist? or 
  • Maybe you want to be a marine biologist?

Marine biology is basically the study of marine organisms, and also their behaviors and interactions with the environment. 

Marine Biology is an interdisciplinary science, where students study a variety of scientific fields to understand the world around them. Marine biologists can get specialized in one or more of the following areas:

  • Molecular Marine Biology
  • Physiology and Biophysics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physical Oceanography/Geo-Oceanography (underwater geology)
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

These fields are all related to each other, but still each has its own specialties, like for example, marine chemists do not study biological organisms directly, but rather their chemical makeup.

What Is a Marine Biologist?

Marine biologists study life under the oceans, and also sometimes the oceans themselves. They can investigate the behavior and physiological processes of marine species, and also the diseases and environmental conditions that can affect them. The Marine Biologists might also assess the impacts of human activities on marine life. There are many Marine Biologists who work under job titles like:

  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Zoologist
  • Fish And Wildlife Biologist
  • Fisheries Biologist
  • Aquatic Biologist
  • Conservation Biologist
  • Biological Technician

What Does a Marine Biologist Do?

Marine biologists study about the marine organisms in their natural habitats. They may also investigate a population’s behaviors or their physiology. They can also assess the condition of habitats, and the effects of human activity on those animals and their habitats.

  • Marine Biologists’ Research Basically Involves:
  • Conducting Species Inventories
  • Monitoring And Testing Sea Creatures Exposed To Pollutants
  • Collecting And Testing Ocean Samples
  • Preserving Samples And Specimens Of Unknown Species And Diseases
  • Mapping The Ranges, Distribution, Or Movements Of Marine Populations

There are some cases, when Marine Biologists may recommend alternative industrial practices for minimizing the negative effects on marine species and habitats, they may also communicate their findings and recommendations by writing reports and presenting scientific journal articles.

Some marine biologists specialize in marine biotechnology. They investigate the adaptations of marine species and also advantages and how they can be applied to industrial processes. For instance, one biotech company has mimicked the structure of shark skin to create door knobs that germs and viruses such as MRSA can’t attach to. This area of the field is promising and interesting too.

Marine biologists might specialize in anything from marine food chains or fish behavior to how marine ecosystems are impacted by human activities.

below are a few examples of what Marine Biologists can do:

  • Marine Ecology: The study of how marine organisms are relate to their living and non-living environment.
  • Behavioral ecology: Studying the behavior of marine species
  • Oceanography (Biological) : Studying the physical, chemical and biological properties of the oceans.
  • Modeling. Build models to estimate the distribution and abundance of marine life in different locations
  • Genetics: The study of genetic diversity of marine species.
  • Physiology: Understanding of how marine physiological processes get impacted by factors such as climate change or pollution.
  • Taxonomy: Discovering and classifying new marine species.
  • Paleobiology: Studying fossil marine organisms.
  • Reproductive biology: Studying how marine species reproduce.
  • Systematics: The study of diversification of marine organisms, and their relationships through time.
  • Molecular biology: The study of activities within marine organisms at the level of cellular molecules such as proteins.

Marine biologists can apply science to areas such as:

  • Sustainable fisheries management
  • Influencing and Informing marine policy
  • Managing and Monitoring marine pollution
  • Marine Environmental Education
  • Controlling  invasive and non-native species
  • Informing Environmentally Sustainable Development (ecological consultancy), example: the impact development projects when assessed can have one marine life and people using Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)
  • Cleaning up damaged ecosystems or contaminated sites (remediation, rehabilitation or restoration)
  • Sustainable shipping 
  • Sustainable tourism (or ecotourism)
  • Environmental Economics: putting a value on the benefits provided to us by nature  
  • Understanding past environments and climates
  • Carrying out ex-situ conservation in aquariums, etc.

Marine biologists might also choose to specialize on specific areas, such as:

  • Tropical marine biology: Studying tropical marine organisms and ecosystems
  • Pelagic (open ocean) or Benthic (sea floor) systems
  • Marine phycology: Studying marine algae
  • And of course… marine conservation biology!

The sea is the limit! when you are considering a career as a Marine biologist. Once you are trained, you can choose to become a champion for sharks, and help local communities manage their fisheries, or even help governments determine where to place marine reserves.

What kind of training is required to become a marine biologist?

Marine biologists also pursue a vigorous education which includes undergraduate and graduate study, just like all other scientists. Like undergraduates, most prospective Marine Biologists study zoology or biology, and some may choose majors in Marine Biology. However, studying Marine Biology as an undergraduate is not a prerequisite to becoming a Marine Biologist. Marine biologists might also find it useful to develop a strong and good background in engineering, mathematics, or computer science in addition to pursuing a Natural Sciences Education.

Biology program students study:

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Ecology
  • Evolution

And also in addition to taking courses in:

  • Physics
  • Chemistry,
  • Calculus, and
  • Statistics

Selecting their elective courses to supplement the required courses for their major is also an open choice for Biology students, and there are some schools that offer courses in Marine Ecology and Zoology, which is known as the study of the Animal Kingdom.

The Biology Programs have a large laboratory component, hence the students in pursuing these programs obtain experience working with the laboratory tools and following research protocols and laboratory.

General Biology Programs students , Zoology students take courses:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry

And after completing the core coursework in Biology, Zoology students take courses that have a main focus on:

  • Animal Behavior
  • Physiology

Or they might study some particular types of animals such as:

  • Insects
  • Birds
  • Fish, or
  • Mammals

Some colleges and universities offer undergraduate degree programs in marine biology. Marine biology students take courses that focus on oceanography, marine vegetation, marine invertebrates, marine vertebrates, and marine ecology. Many of the schools that offer marine biology programs are located near an ocean. Attending a program near an ocean can present students with opportunities to do valuable field work under the supervision of marine biologists conducting research.

Those who have the highest degree as a bachelor’s degree, some Marine Biology jobs are available for them, but a master’s degree is at least required for an advancement. The main focus of a master’s degree program in Marine Science is research and advanced study.

The students of a master’s degree program in Marine Science take courses in:

  • Biostatistics
  • Oceanography
  • Marine Chemistry
  • Ecosystems
  • Geology

The students can then select electives in their area of interest. They may select to keep their focus on the Ecology of a specific marine area, or they can also study a type of marine organism, like: fish, corals, mammals, or plankton.

Conducting original research and presenting a thesis on the conducted original research in their area of interest, is also expected from the graduate.

A PhD is required for a Marine biologist who wants to conduct independent research. PhD programs also include advanced study in an area of interest just like master’s degree programs. PhD students must write and defend a dissertation on their original research carried out for contributing to the body of knowledge in their field.

How to become a Marine Biologist

For a fairly small number of entry-level positions in marine biology, a bachelor’s degree can be sufficient, but there are a majority of jobs in the field that call for a graduate degree.

The Marine Sciences master’s programs focus on research and advanced study in the following:

  • Biostatistics
  • Oceanography
  • Marine Chemistry
  • Ecosystems
  • Geology

A Doctorate is basically needed for the university’s faculty positions and roles that allow independent and original research.

While following high school, there are some students pursuing a combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Marine Biology, which allows them to earn both degrees in less time as compared to the time that would be required to complete the degrees consecutively. There are several schools that offer specific Marine Biology programs, and many students graduate with a degree in:

  • Biology
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Zoology
  • Fisheries
  • Ecology, or another
  • Animal Science

There are also some who enter the field with an educational background in chemistry or even engineering, mathematics, or computer science.

The Marine biologists, working with the National Sea Grant College Program ( interestingly urge students to initially, keep their education broad-based at least, and avoid specializing so soon. All this is because Marine Biology includes many sub-disciplines that present numerous potential career directions like:

  • A Microbiologist
  • An Aquarist
  • A Behavioral Ecologist
  • A System Analyst
  • A Geneticist
  • A Professor
  • And maybe some combination of all of the above

There are several organizations that hire marine biologists and there are several roads to choose from, so an important first step in the right direction is having a fairly precise idea of what you would like to do. If you delay your specialization, you will only avail yourself of a wider array of opportunities and also make sure that you ultimately select the sub-discipline that suits the best for you.

Step 1

High School

The Summer Camps at Marine Biology and Marine Study centers are open to kids as young as 12 years of age, so you can actually begin your training in Marine Biology as early as 12 years. Some summer programs available for high school students also teach things like sailing, SCUBA, and marine exploration. The next option is to volunteer for doing work at a local aquarium. There are many who offer opportunities for working as docents and interacting with the public, and also using hands-on displays like tide-pool exhibits. Some aquariums even allow you to work with marine life in display tanks, provided you have adequate training.

A wonderful resource for high school students who are considering a career in Marine Biology is Ecology Project International.

Step 2

Bachelor’s Degree / Internships

Undergraduate degree programs in marine biology consist of required and elective courses. The coursework which is mandatory includes:

  • General Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Ecology
  • Evolution

Electives, which allow students to concentrate on particular areas of interest, might include mammal biology, vertebrate zoology, tropical ecosystems, fish ecology, aquaculture, biotechnology, environmental biology, molecular biology, toxicology, and species-specific biology. The major component of the work of marine biologists is the extrapolation of collected data to accurately predict the growth and decline in marine populations, thus the study of statistical analysis is also an important part of curricula.

There are some universities that do not offer a major in marine biology. Therefore it is quite common for individuals that are pursuing the field to major in General Biology or Zoology.

Internships are an essential part of a lot of bachelor’s programs in Marine Biology and related disciplines. These paid/unpaid programs are usually offered during the summer and also allow students to obtain some college credit while they get to work at a marine laboratory, biological research station, marine science lab, or marine center. For applying for an internship program, the students usually require to have completed at least 1 or 2 years of their undergraduate studies.

The Columbia University Department of Biology is known for maintaining an expansive, but not exhaustive, list of ocean-related Internship programs.

Earthwatch Institute is known for offering volunteer field research and expedition learning experiences.

Step 3

Graduate Degree(s) / Specialization

Many successful Marine Biologists can tell you that if you want to excel in the field, a masters or a Ph.D. is required .

Students who are pursuing a graduate degree should narrow their focus to much more specific areas of Marine Biology, like: marine mammals or plant life or coral reefs. For example, a master’s program in marine biology having an emphasis on marine mammals, will focus on the behavior of marine mammals, their conservation, and diseases of marine mammals. The curricula at the master’s level typically includes:

  • instruction in research and lab methods
  • research equipment, and
  • professional science writing

And now by the end of a master’s degree program, students are established with their specialization through electives, independent study classes, and also a thesis.

As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Ph.D is required at the postsecondary level of most independent research and teaching positions. The most important aspect of a doctoral program is doing independent research, which helps students write a dissertation that they defend before a Ph.D. advisory committee.

Enrolling in the right program in Marine Biology is paramount at the Ph.D. level, as the research and dissertation set the foundation for a marine biology career. The students must select a doctoral program that is supported by the faculty who actively teach and research the subject that they are going to focus on.

Step 4

Employment / Professional Development

The Marine Conservation Biology Institute has maintained a list of job opportunity links, these societies and organizations promotes ethical standards, professional development, networking, and information exchange:

  • The Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • The Society for Marine Mammalogy
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)
  • The International Whaling Commission
  • The American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS)
  • The National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML)
  • The Oceanography Society
  • The Marine Conservation Institute

Job Description of a Marine Biologist

A marine biologist’s work is to observe and study the animals and plants that live in the ocean. A marine biologist might have many specialized fields, each one carrying its own title. However, there are typical tasks which include:

  • Studying Marine Organisms
  • Collecting Biological Samples
  • Analyzing Specimens or Data
  • Writing Reports

For replicating, recording, modeling, or monitoring their studies, many use instruments or technology devices too.

In the zoos or at aquariums, they take care of marine animal life and also observe their reactions and their behavior patterns to the environment . They assess marine animals to make sure that the animals are healthy and thriving.

There are also some Marine Biologists who may scuba dive for specimens. They study about larger marine animal life like: sharks, whales, seals, or many other sea life that is usually unnoticed, like the sea’s coral.

Some of the Marine Biologists may also specialize in studying marine toxins’ complex chemical makeup and also their impact on the environment, and how the weather puts an impact on sea life. These types of Marine Biologists generally work with other scientists, engineers, technicians, or even environmental agencies. They might consult and work towards rebuilding damaged marine ecosystems,  help at fisheries management or the coast guard, advocate or help with environmental compliance.

The Marine Biologists can even teach at a university or college or act as a consultant for numerous agencies, such as the government. Being a Marine Biologist can also be competitive, but having gained hands-on experience before graduating can be helpful. There are many who work full time and for a variety of shifts. They usually work in the field and are outdoors on ships, beaches, or even at salt marshes while doing scientific research. Some Marine Biologists even conduct studies and research in a laboratory for observing and recording animals in tanks or viewing tiny organisms using a microscope.

A Marine Biologist career varies significantly, at its basic level, these types of scientists specialize in the living organisms in water bodies, Mostly Marine Biologists have their area of specialty – some of them study fish, single celled organisms like plants and coral, or plankton, or mammals. The Marine Biologists duties do vary from job to job, but the list given down below includes job duties that one usually encounters as a Marine Biologist:

  • Reviewing research and literature relating to the current discoveries in the field
  • Collecting field and control samples of the biological samples and also non-living media for performing analyses
  • Researching the behavior and relationships among organisms present in the Marine Environment
  • Analyzing the evolution and distribution of organisms and also their environment inside the ocean
  • Using and also maintaining the instrumentation used for tracking organisms and measuring the properties of the environment
  • Analyzing the diversity and health of numerous components of the Marine Environment
  • Consulting and working to rebuild the damaged Marine Ecosystems
  • Using computer modeling for building predictive data for the Marine Ecosystem
  • Consulting with stakeholders regarding programs for monitoring pollution
  • Advocating for and monitoring environmental compliance
  • Providing assistance to fisheries management and coast guard units as per the requirement

The Senior Marine Biologists usually have a more broad set of job duties that are mainly focused on management and leadership tasks, these job responsibilities usually include the following:

  • Navigating numerous agencies and regulations for effectively monitoring the ecosystem in question
  • Constructing grant proposals for funding research and fieldwork
  • Drafting scientific papers that report research findings
  • Facilitating a positive and challenging team environment with clear communication and mentoring opportunities
  • Presenting research findings at conferences, and also to policymakers and stakeholders
  • Communicating with the public to help educate about the issues that are affecting Marine Ecosystems such as climate change and overfishing.
  • Determining jurisdictions for numerous laws and regulations
  • Developing scope of work for the projects and as well as calculate project budgets and schedules for writing environmental assessments and impact statements
  • Sharing data with consideration to the endangered species advocacy organizations

What Is the Job Demand for Marine Biologists?

The jobs in this field are limited and the competition is also strong. BLS projects that job demand for the Zoologists and the Wildlife Biologists will increase by five percent during/ between 2020 and 2030. Those having advanced math and computer skills will have an advantage in the job market.

Where do marine biologists work?

Whether you enjoy being in the field, or in an office, at a laboratory, or diving at remote field sites, you can find an environment where you grow well with a Marine Biology career.

Once you understand the 5 main employer types it can help you navigate your career in Marine Biology. The five main employer types are the following:

  • Academia – They help in creating the research base that practitioners require to effectively conserve marine species and ecosystems. The employers are mainly Universities and Colleges, such as the 
  • University of Exeter (UK)
  • James Cook University (Australia)
  • The University of Hawai’i (USA)
  • Charity –  They contribute to not-for-profit and non-governmental conservation activities with the Charity, NGO or ‘Third Sector.’

The charity examples include:

  • The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC – International)
  • Love the Oceans (Mozambique)
  • SeaLegacy (Canada, USA)
  • Project Biodiversity (Cabo Verde)
  • Blue Marine Foundation (UK)
  • Business – They work with for-profit private companies or consulting firms that support marine conservation, like:
  • Fishtek Marine (UK)
  • Ocean Science Consulting (OSC) (UK)
  • Archipelago (Canada)
  • Anchor Environmental (South Africa)
  • Government – It helps set regional, national or international policies, and also enforce best practice with the public sector or even civil service.

The examples of government institutions and agencies are:

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • CEFAS (UK)DFO (Canada)
  • CSIRO (Australia)
  • Enterprise – Joining the start-up, and socializing enterprise or innovation movement, applying commercial strategies for maximizing improvements in environmental and human well-being. The examples are:
  • Blue Ventures
  • GVI
  • Lindblad Expeditions

What is a typical marine biologist job description?

Being a broad theme of work, Marine biology encompasses each of the fifteen key conservation job types, and also Marine Biology is uber-diverse, encompassing various sub-sectors or areas of focus – like:

  • Fisheries
  • Pollution
  • endangered species
  • Marine Protected Areas and many more

If you are worried about whether your skillset is required or not, then you can put that fear to rest!

The fifteen key Marine Conservation job types

Marine biologists can use their skills across as many as the fifteen key conservation job types, which include:

  1. Animal Welfare Marine Conservation Jobs

It’s about Caring for animals
The early career job titles examples can be:

  • Marine Stranding Network Coordinator
  • Veterinarian

The employers examples are:

  • working for a marine animal response center or stranding network
  1. Communications & Marketing Marine Conservation Jobs

It’s about Raising the profile of conservation
The early career job titles examples can be:

  • Communications Officer/Specialist
  • Marketing Officer
  • Social Media Assistant
  • Magazine Editor
  • TV Assistant
  • Writer
  • Wildlife Journalist
  • Presenter or Blogger

The employers examples are:

  • Almost all organizations will require support with this.
  1. Community-based Marine Conservation Jobs

It’s about helping people to be a part of the solution
The early career job titles examples can be:

  • Community Outreach Officer
  • Local Empowerment Officer

The employers examples are: 

  • Blue Ventures
  • Positive Change for Marine Life
  1. Countryside Management, Warden and Ranger Marine Conservation Jobs

It saves key sites for the nature
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Assistant Warden
  • Assistant Ranger
  • Countryside Ranger
  • Park Ranger
  • Estate Worker
  • Reserves Officer

The employers examples are:

  • The Wildlife Trusts
  1. Ecotourism Marine Conservation Jobs

This job is about helping people experience the natural world
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Scuba Instructor
  • Field Guide
  • Snorkel Guide
  • Certification Coach
  • Sustainability Advisor

The employers examples are:

  • Audley Travel
  1. Ecological Consultancy Conservation Jobs

This job type is about ensuring the ecologically-sensitive development
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Ecologist
  • Assistant Ecologist
  • Graduate Ecologist

The employers examples are:

  • APEM
  • Atkins
  1. Environmental Economics and Ecosystem Assessment Marine Conservation Jobs

It’s about Putting a value on nature
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Economics Programme Officer
  • Junior Environmental Economist
  • Sustainable Finance Assistant

The employers examples are:

  • Ecologic Institute
  1. Environmental Education Marine Conservation Jobs

This job type is about increasing awareness and support for nature
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Learning Officer
  • Education Officer
  • Environmental Educator
  • Schools Outreach Officer
  • Learning Assistant
  • Schools Outreach Project Officer
  • Education Assistant

The employers examples are:

  • The Wildlife Trusts
  • Seal Rescue Ireland
  1. Fundraising & Development Marine Conservation Jobs

This type of job is about raising money to save nature
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Membership Development Officer
  • Fundraising Officer
  • Membership Development Assistant
  • Development Officer

The employers examples are:

It can be any charity

  1. Mapping & GIS Marine Conservation Jobs

It’s about putting nature on the map
The early career job titles examples are:

  • GIS Technical Support Officer
  • GIS Spatial Modeler
  • GIS Spatial Modeler
  • GIS / Ecology Graduate
  • GIS Technical Support Officer
  • GIS Officer

The employers examples are:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  1. Marine Conservation Jobs

Marine conservation is a job type in its own right, and this job type is about protecting the blue planet.

  1. Photography and Film-making Marine Conservation Jobs It’s a storytelling type for change
    The early career job titles examples are:
  • Freelance Photographers
  • Photo-journalists
  • Film-makers
  • Editors
  • Producers

The employers examples being:

  • SeaLegacy
  1. Policy & Advocacy Marine Conservation Jobs

It’s about saving the wildlife through law
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Policy and Advocacy Officer
  • Policy Advisor
  • Campaigns and Policy Assistant

The employers examples are:

  • Ocean Conservancy
  • Oceana
  • Greenpeace
  1. Programme & Project Management Marine Conservation Jobs 

It’s about saving the world one project at a time
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Project Officer
  • Junior Project Officer
  • Project Assistant
  • Programme Officer
  • Programme Assistant
  • Project Manager
  • Programme Manager

The employers examples are:

  • National Geographic
  • Fauna & Flora International
  1. Science & Research Marine Conservation Jobs 

This job type is about answering the key questions for tackling biodiversity loss
The early career job titles examples are:

  • Field Assistant
  • Research Assistant
  • Science Officer

The employers examples are:

  • University of Exeter Marine
  • The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada

As the Marine Biologist careers are so diverse, hence we have summarized some common job duties for a few typical types of careers.

Sector-specific marine conservation jobs

Now let us dive into some of the sub-sectors and see what’s within the Marine Biologist careers.


The Divers are in-demand for their specialized skill set that they have – which can be used in various ways, like:

  • The recreational dive industry – it’s like a divemaster or a dive instructor working with students, tourists, or even volunteers or interns in ecotourism or even in the conservation travel sector.
  • Commercial diving – like a diver for an ecological consultancy.
  • The public service – it’s like a diver with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the USA, conducting marine patrols.
  • Science and research – like conducting scientific field surveys or even monitoring protected sites, with universities, charities, government and government-sponsored agencies or even aquariums.
  • Underwater photography and videography – like an Undersea Specialist with LindBlad Expeditions and National Geographic or Shark Girl Madison.
  • Technology – it’s like operating remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

Marine spatial planning

Though we have covered 71 percent of Earth’s surface, and still we have protected only less than 4 percent of the oceans (and also enforced protection of even less). Through a network of highly protected areas, 2020 World Oceans Day called on world leaders to protect 30 percent of the oceans by 2030 (‘30×30’).

MSP, the Marine spatial planning is an inclusive and transparent process of managing the human activities in Marine areas in space and in time, it brings diverse ocean users together – which includes: government, local communities, industry, tourism, energy and others for aiming to achieve ecological, economic and also social objectives.


If your passion is sustainable fishing, then there will be no shortage of jobs for you in this diverse sub-sector of marine conservation careers, these include:

  • Fisheries Biologists – scientists or wildlife biologists who study fish and their habitats or conduct basic/applied research, from understanding the health of fish populations to broader ecology, which includes working at hatcheries for commercial production purposes to mapping ocean fish stocks. They may even be called on as witnesses for “corporate negligence cases (oil spills etc)”.
  • Fisheries Officers & Fisheries Observers – these independent specialists are deployed on fishing vessels or are stationed in processing plants for collecting data and reporting on fisheries operations to support science, conservation, and management. As they are employed by government agencies or third-party contractors, their data might be utilized to ensure compliance with regulations, assess fish populations, set fishing quotas, and much more.
  • Seafood sourcing and supply chain management – working with commercial organizations for supporting sustainable buying commitments and overseeing all steps in the supply chain right from ocean to table – like: with the Marine Stewardship Council (International) or Ocean Wise seafood (national – Canada).
  • Aquaculturist – responsible for farming or cultivating aquatic organisms like: freshwater and marine fish and shellfish, that plays an important role in quality management and sustainability.

Climate change

The need to combat the effects of climate change on our oceans and ecosystems (and the coastal communities who rely on them) has never been greater, right from coral bleaching and coastal sea level rise to ocean warming and acidification . 

Do you know that ‘blue carbon’  which is stored in coastal ecosystems like mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrass beds stores up to ten times more carbon per hectare than the terrestrial forests.

Aquarium Jobs

Aquariums being powerhouses for species conservation efforts and environmental education, offers diverse employment opportunities which includes:

  • Curator – Manages or Oversees part/all of an aquarium’s animal collection
  • Veterinarian or Veterinary Technician – Is responsible for the health of animal collections, or for assisting the veterinarian for providing care to animals.
  • Aquarist/Senior or Head Aquarist – Providing or supervising regular care to animals, like diet preparation, cleaning, exhibit maintenance and also record keeping.
  • Registrar – Maintaining records of animal collections and handling permission and licensing for holding or transporting animals.
  • Director or Coordinator of Research – Directing or coordinating scientific research projects and publications, also liaising with the academic community.
  • Director or Coordinator of Conservation – Directing or coordinating the aquarium’s conservation initiatives (research and/ field), also liaising with conservation organizations and government agencies.
  • Conservation Biologist or Zoologist – Providing technical and/or scientific support for animal collection management and conservation projects.
  • Director or Assistant Director or CEO – Leading an aquarium’s operation and future plans.

What are the top marine biologist skills?

Though it is a science-based career path, interpersonal and communication skills are also important for most Marine Biologist jobs.

Below we have summarized some key skills for Marine Biologists just to give a snapshot of some common skills and experience that employers are looking for.

These jobs include:

  • WWF (Marine Biologist, US-Arctic Program)
  • Thomson Environmental Consultants (Graduate Marine Biologist)
  • British Antarctic Survey (Marine Biologist – Rothera)
  • AECOM (Senior Marine Mammal Biologist)
  • Cardno GS, Inc. (Marine Biologist) 
  • ZSL (EDGE Marine Biologist)
  • Blue Ventures (Field Scientists)
  • Olive Ridley Project (Sea Turtle Biologist)
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Marine Biologist)
  • Atmospheric Administration and National Oceanic (Research Fish Biologist)
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Biologist / Analyst)
  • New England Aquarium (Temporary Biologist)
  • Atoll Volunteers (Marine Biologist)

Specialist skills



  • Data analysis, e.g. using R 
  • Technical report writing skills or preparing publications
  • Taxonomic skills


  • Dive certification at varying levels
  • GIS (e.g. using QGIS), GPS and spatial analysis
  • Project Management which includes planning, funding, implementation and reporting
  • Animal husbandry
  • Modeling

Transferable skills


  • Strong verbal and written communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to interact with a broad range of stakeholders or partners or audiences or technical backgrounds
  • Organizational skills
  • The ability to work with minimal supervision or independently
  • The ability to work being a part of a team
  • MS office packages, specifically Excel and PowerPoint
  • Delivering presentations 


  • Project management
  • Fundraising
  • Database management
  • Willingness to travel 
  • Physical fitness



  • Field research and/or monitoring 
  • Marine survey techniques like:  species surveys, habitat assessments, social science surveys
  • Experience with specific taxonomic groups 


  • Living/working in a particular region or context such as: developing country, tropics, etc.
  • Working in remote locations and or with limited resources and or in challenging situations
  • Multi-disciplinary collaboration 
  • Working with customers / guests / volunteers 
  • Working with local communities
  • Other languages 
  • Processing samples 
  • Survey design 
  • Managing teams 
  • Proposal development 
  • Publication record 
  • Knowledge of marine environmental regulations 
  • Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Managing external consultants/contractors 
  • Specialist experience such as bioacoustics 

Best Marine Biology Colleges

Some of the famous Marine Biology 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 planning to become a Marine Biologist or are already one, then the books listed below would be really helpful:

  • The Unnatural History of the Sea – Prof. Calum Roberts
  • Voyage of the Turtle: In pursuit of the Earth’s last dinosaur – by Prof. Carl Safina
  • Mapping the Deep – Robert Kunzig
  • A Life Underwater – Dr. Charlie Veron
  • Spirals in Time – Dr. Helen Scales
  • The Empty Ocean – Richard Ellis
  • Reflections on a Summer Sea – Prof. Trevor Norton
  • Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World – by Todd McLeish
  • Flotsametrics and the floating world – Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer & Eric Scigliano
  • Vanished Ocean: How Tethys Reshaped the World – by Prof. Dorrik Stow

What Is the Average Marine Biologist Salary?

While the (BLS) U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not collect data on Marine Biologists specifically, as they are included with Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists. As of 2020, the median salary of Marine Biologists was $66,350, and those employed by the federal government earned more salary than those in state government and other sectors.