Career Development

What Does a Marine Biologist Do?

Find out what a marine biologist does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a marine biologist.

Marine biologists study the plants and animals that live in oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. They’re interested in how these organisms interact with their environment and each other to survive. Marine biologists may focus on a specific type of organism or ecosystem.

Marine biologists can work in a variety of fields, from academia to government agencies to private industry. Their jobs are diverse but they all have one thing in common: they must be passionate about the ocean and its inhabitants.

Marine Biologist Job Duties

Marine biologists have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Conducting research on marine life forms in order to better understand them, including their ecology and life cycles
  • Conducting environmental impact studies in order to determine the impact that human activities are having on marine ecosystems
  • Studying the effects of pollution on marine life and aquatic habitats
  • Recording data on water quality, animal sightings, and other observations using computers or hand-held devices such as Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers or digital cameras
  • Collecting biological samples such as water or animal tissue in order to test for contaminants or disease
  • Conducting research on marine animals in their natural habitats
  • Conducting research on marine ecosystems, including coral reefs and intertidal zones
  • Designing experiments to test hypotheses about the behavior of marine animals
  • Communicating research findings to the public through presentations, journal articles, and other media

Marine Biologist Salary & Outlook

Marine biologist salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of organization they work for.

  • Median Annual Salary: $66,500 ($31.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $198,000 ($95.19/hour)

The employment of marine biologists is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The need to understand and protect the oceans and their resources will continue to drive demand for marine biologists. In addition, the increasing concern about the effects of climate change on the ocean environment may lead to more research in this field.

Marine Biologist Job Requirements

Marine biologists typically need to have the following background:

Education: Marine biologists need a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, biology, zoology or another closely related field. Many marine biologists also choose to pursue a master’s degree in marine biology or a related field.

Master’s degrees are useful for those who want to specialize in a particular area of marine biology or who want to increase their earning potential.

Training & Experience: Marine biologists receive most of their training through their education and work experience. They may work as interns or volunteers to gain experience in the marine biology field. They can also gain experience by working in other marine-related fields, such as fishing or oceanography.

Marine biologists can also receive on-the-job training to learn more about the specific marine life in the area. They may learn about the specific species of fish in the area and the best ways to capture them. They may also learn about the different equipment and techniques the company uses.

Certifications & Licenses: Although certifications are not always required for marine biologist jobs, many employers prefer candidates to have one. Certifications show that you are a motivated and ambitious professional.

Marine Biologist Skills

Marine biologists need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Marine biologists use technical skills to collect and analyze data, develop and implement research plans and conduct experiments. They also use technical skills to create presentations and reports about their research.

Communication skills: Marine biologists often work in teams with other biologists and other professionals, such as engineers, to complete their work. Effective communication skills can help a marine biologist convey their ideas to others and understand the ideas of others. They may also communicate with members of the public to help explain their work and its importance.

Problem-solving skills: Marine biologists often work in teams to conduct research and develop solutions to challenges that arise during their work. For example, a marine biologist might work with a team of engineers to design a new tool to help them collect data or observe marine life.

Observation skills: Marine biologists use observation skills to identify marine life and their behaviors. They also use observation skills to identify environmental changes in the ocean, such as changes in water temperature or changes in the amount of oxygen in the water. This information can help them predict changes in the ocean and protect marine life.

Teamwork skills: Marine biologists often work in teams to conduct research and complete other tasks. This is because most marine biology jobs require collaboration with other scientists and members of other departments. For example, a marine biologist might work with a team of engineers to design a new underwater tool or work with a team of biologists to conduct research on a specific species.

Marine Biologist Work Environment

Marine biologists conduct research on all aspects of marine life, including the behavior, breeding, and distribution of marine organisms. They study the physical and chemical properties of the ocean and the effects of pollution and other human activities on marine life. Marine biologists typically work in offices and laboratories located near the coast, where they have easy access to the ocean. They may spend considerable time outdoors, conducting field research on the shore or in small boats. They may also work in aquaculture facilities, where they help to rear and harvest marine plants and animals. Marine biologists typically work a standard 40-hour week, although they may work longer hours during field research or when they are preparing reports or grant proposals.

Marine Biologist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how marine biologists work. Marine biologists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Marine Biologists Will Need to Collaborate With Other Professionals

As marine biology becomes more popular, marine biologists will need to collaborate with other professionals in order to achieve their goals.

This trend is already being seen in the field, as marine biologists are working with engineers and scientists to develop new technologies that can help them study the ocean. Additionally, they are also collaborating with business professionals to create new products that utilize the resources of the ocean.

Marine Biologists Will Need to Be Able to Communicate Effectively

In order to be successful in the field of marine biology, marine biologists will need to be able to communicate effectively with both colleagues and the public. This means that they will need to be able to write and speak clearly about their research in a way that is easy for others to understand.

As marine biology becomes more popular, there will be an increased demand for professionals who can communicate complex ideas in a simple way. By developing these skills, marine biologists can set themselves apart from the competition and ensure that their work is read and appreciated by a wide audience.

More Funding for Research

The field of marine biology is growing rapidly, which is leading to an increase in funding for research projects. This trend is likely to continue in the future, as governments and private companies look for ways to improve our understanding of the oceans.

Marine biologists can capitalize on this trend by becoming experts in specific areas of research. This will allow them to be in high demand by companies and government agencies looking for someone who can get the job done quickly and efficiently.

How to Become a Marine Biologist

A marine biologist career path can be very rewarding, but it’s important to consider the many different paths that are available to you. You could work in a research lab, teach at a university, or work for a government agency. You could also choose to work in conservation or policy, or become a freelance writer or photographer.

No matter which direction you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest scientific discoveries and developments related to oceans and marine life. Read journals and articles, attend conferences, and connect with other scientists online. Stay active in your local community of marine biologists by volunteering or attending meetings.

Advancement Prospects

With experience, marine biologists and oceanographers may advance to supervisory or research positions. Some become postsecondary teachers. Many marine biologists and oceanographers work in environmental consulting and must constantly update their knowledge to keep up with new environmental regulations.

Advancement often depends on the ability to secure grant funding. Those who are successful in obtaining grant funding are more likely to be promoted and to have greater control over their research projects. Marine biologists and oceanographers who are interested in management may become administrators of research programs.

Marine Biologist Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we believe that a healthy ocean is vital to the health of our planet. We are looking for a marine biologist to join our team to help us achieve our goal of protecting and conserving our oceans. The ideal candidate will have a passion for the ocean and its inhabitants, as well as experience in research and data analysis. He or she will be responsible for conducting field research, collecting data, and writing reports on the findings. The marine biologist will also be responsible for educating the public on the importance of ocean conservation and helping to develop policies to protect the ocean.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Conduct field research to collect data on marine species, their habitats, and behavior
  • Analyze collected data to identify trends and develop hypotheses
  • Write scientific papers to share findings with the greater scientific community
  • Present findings to groups of varying sizes, including the general public
  • Work with other scientists from different disciplines to develop a more holistic understanding of the ocean ecosystem
  • Use technological advances to improve research methods
  • Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field
  • Train and supervise junior scientists and students
  • Manage budgets and grant money
  • Advocate for marine conservation efforts
  • Serve as an expert witness in court cases related to the ocean
  • Work with government officials to develop policies that will protect the marine environment

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in marine biology, ecology, or related field
  • 2+ years experience working with marine ecosystems
  • Experience conducting field research, including data collection and analysis
  • Strong writing and communication skills
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, with aptitude to learn new software and systems
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in marine biology, ecology, or related field
  • 4+ years experience working with marine ecosystems
  • Experience leading field research teams
  • Proficient in statistical analysis software (SAS, R, etc.)
  • Familiarity with GIS software

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