The water, the cradle of primordial life from which life originally developed, is now in peril by one form of that life’s recklessness. Regardless of their field of study, marine biologists are enlightened individuals that respect the world’s finest habitat that lies beneath the waves. Recognizing that life is a gift, they try to protect the lives of all marine animals as if they were their own.
Similar Job Titles
- Ocean Biologist
- Marine Scientist
- Marine Life Biologist
Typical Job Responsibilities
What do Marine Biologists do?
A Marine Biologist would typically need to:
- Develop, implement, and manage projects relating to the marine ecosystem
- Track, research and analyze aquatic organisms and their behavior, using instrumentation; analyze the health of various components within the oceanic environment
- Collect and analyze field samples and data to develop new research theories or validate existing ones; preserve specimens and samples of unknown aquatic species and diseases
- Map the distribution, ranges, or movements of marine populations; conduct species inventories; test and monitor sea creatures exposed to pollutants and various kinds of bacteria
- Scuba dive to survey endangered organisms and implement preservation strategies; use computer modeling to build predictive data
- Conduct environmental assessments and write impact statements evaluating the likely effects of proposed projects, also studying their socioeconomic, cultural, and human-health impacts
- Guide agencies to monitor ecosystems and work to rebuild the ones that are damaged
- Review research and literature; formulate grant proposals to fund research; design scientific experiments and collate findings
- Draft scientific papers; present findings and detailed reports to stakeholders including agencies, funders, commercial enterprises, governmental bodies, or oil companies drilling on the seabed
- Liaise with colleagues across the field, including fellow research staff, technicians, ships’ crews, and research assistants; supervise master’s and Ph.D. students
- Carry out educational work and raise awareness of issues with the public, governments, and commercial organizations; share data with advocacy organizations
- Determine jurisdictions for laws and regulations; provide policymakers with critical scientific information to optimally manage the marine environment
- Lecture on marine activity planning, management, and policies; advocate aforementioned in the policy-making process through government liaison, press, and media
- Develop, coordinate, and track assignments, scopes, and schedules. budgets and deliverables for projects; write contract negotiations; carry out marketing and business development
- Keep up to date with new research and technologies and attend training courses
- Communicate the latest advances in marine science to help improve how we look after our oceans through academic publications, conferences, or outreach
- Conduct expeditions on fishing and research vessels in polar, temperate, and tropical seas
- Cooperate with and assist coast guard units; interview local divers, fishermen, and other stakeholders about animal behavior and local marine practices
Standard Work Environment
Marine biologists work in offices, labs, and the field.
Depending on your profession and hobbies, you may spend a significant amount of time collecting data and studying marine species in their natural environments. You may scuba dive for mussels one morning and then spend the afternoon in your lab monitoring them, gathering data, and conducting computerized statistical analysis by comparing prior scientific research.
On other days, you could be working in a tide pool, a swamp, a mangrove forest, a coral reef, or anywhere else on the planet that supports marine life.
You may, however, want to spend less time in the field and instead teach undergraduate students at a university or mentor postgraduate students in their research. While academic employment is primarily office and lab-based, it may necessitate numerous short or long-term international journeys.
Traveling to intriguing places far and near to study nature firsthand is viewed as a job bonus among marine biologists. Opportunities to work abroad are many, whether through a permanent or semi-permanent posting abroad or in employment that involves travel to research sites.
Fieldwork contracts are typically 40 to 50 hours per week. But, as a Marine Biologist, the tide and the nature of the study may influence your hours, and you may need to get an early start or even work 24 hours.
If you like scheduled hours, you may work for a university, consultancy, or Charity, though this may differ if you are working on specific projects with academics.
Whether you are a postdoctoral researcher or a professor, you will find some flexibility in self-managed research work. Yet, because grants are often used to support projects, research jobs are frequently dependent on short-term contracts (12-24 months).
You will discover that a part-time job is also a possibility.
Research assistants, research fellows, lecturers, and professors are examples of academic positions. Some businesses, particularly academic institutions or government agencies, may hire Marine Biologists for short-term or long-term research projects with fixed-term contracts.
Working in a laboratory may entail collaborating directly with the federal government, environmental protection agencies, or on behalf of a university’s research program. Nonprofit organizations, which fund research studies for commercial items, are also key jobs for marine biology graduates.
Employment postings may be found on the websites of colleges, marine institutions, and significant corporations. Vacancies are also handled by environmental recruitment companies. Establishing appropriate contacts through volunteering, career fairs, and your university department can help you land a job.
Marine Biologists are generally employed by:
- Marine Research Institutes & Agencies
- Marine Research Laboratories
- Marine Environmental Surveying Consultancies
- Marine Conservation Consultancies
- Research Boats & Vessels
- Fisheries & Aquaculture Organizations
- Oceanography Centers
- Aquariums & Museums
- Wildlife Trusts
- Environmental Consultancies
- Statutory Environmental Protection Agencies
- Environmental Research Institutes
- Environmental Research Councils
- Environmental & Conservation Charities
- Pollution and Water Control Companies
- Government Agencies
- Public Bodies
- International Organizations
- Not-for-Profit Organizations & NGOs
- Energy, Oil & Gas Exploration Firms
- Commercial Companies
- Engineering Companies
Unions / Professional Organizations
Professional organizations and organizations, such as the International Association for Biological Oceanography (IABO), are essential for Marine Biologists who want to further their professional growth or interact with other experts in their industry or occupation. Participation in one or more of these organizations adds value to your resume while strengthening your credentials and qualifications.
- Fieldwork can require travel to remote locations worldwide, where most modern amenities may be absent
- Fieldwork can be physically demanding, requiring work in extreme climates, inclement weather conditions, and rugged terrains
- Seasickness from spending significant time on ships
- Emotionally demanding work due to loneliness caused by limited interpersonal contact
- Precautions are needed while handling wildlife or working in remote areas, even if rates of illness and injury are not high
Suggested Work Experience
Children as young as twelve years old can attend summer camps at marine biology and marine study facilities. Summer programs for high school students cover topics such as sailing, scuba diving, and marine exploration. Volunteer in a local aquarium as a docent and connect with the general public.
Paid and unpaid internships provide students with the opportunity to earn college credit while working in a marine laboratory, biological research station, marine science lab, or marine center. To be qualified, you must have completed at least one or two years of undergraduate studies.
Volunteer with local wildlife trusts, marine conservation organizations, local charities, ocean clean-up organizations, sanctuaries, and rescue centers to gain fieldwork experience.
Attend conferences, give presentations, and work as a research assistant for an expert. Volunteering with organizations such as aquariums, museums, or environmental consultancies can help you develop a variety of skills and gain a better understanding of your area of interest, allowing you to make an informed decision.
With so many chances accessible around the world, be ready to grasp one, whether paid or unpaid, and earn the experience you need to stand out. Marine biology is a gender-neutral vocational sector that welcomes both men and women.
Undergraduates who want to keep their employment possibilities open can pursue degrees in general sciences such as geology, zoology, statistics, or computer science. A master’s degree in marine biology would be an excellent starting point for such applicants.
Most aspiring marine biologists, however, begin with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, marine & earth science, or oceanography. You should keep in mind that an undergraduate degree in this discipline will only get you a volunteer or part-time job working on various science initiatives.
While professions in marine biology are frequently research-based, getting a postgraduate degree in disciplines ranging from tropical marine biology to tropical coastal management to aquatic ecology and conservation is relatively prevalent.
Doctorate degrees will be useful, especially if you want to pursue a career in ocean and earth science, marine geochemistry, chemistry, oceanography, or behavioral ecology. Programs at marine research institutes and universities allow you to acquire a Doctorate while working. You must choose a qualified mentor who works in the specialty area of interest to you.
Certifications, Licenses, and Registration
Because diving is so important in marine biology, aspiring marine biologists should get open-water certified and undergo a scientific diving course. The open water certification will assist you in learning basic scuba diving skills, and you will be awarded a scuba diving certificate.
The scientific diving course will teach you first aid, dive rescue, and how to use diving to do research, with a focus on the physics and physiology of diving.
Projected Career Map
Marine Biology is an area of study and research; most Marine Biologists will likely collaborate with universities and other educational organizations. You may start as a Research Assistant and work your way up to Lecturer, Fellow, and Professor, with Deanship being the pinnacle.
Before you may apply for a lecturing job, you must first complete numerous short- to mid-term contracts, with success determined by your research, teaching, and publications. The time it takes to become a professor is determined by the novelty of your research, your international reputation, and your capacity to generate cash and build a research group.
Marine Biologists can pursue a variety of occupations, including Marine Biotechnologist, Oceanographer, Aquarist, and Hydrologist, as well as Ichthyologist, Marine Mammalogist, and Fisheries Biologist. Several sections of Marine Biology, however, lack a clearly defined promotional structure; career progress will be dependent on a combination of commitment, hard work and making relevant contacts in your chosen profession.
When looking for work, marine biologists may encounter stiff competition. Candidates who have received practical experience through internships, summer jobs, or voluntary work before or shortly after graduation should have a better chance of landing a job.
Beneficial Professional Development
Ongoing professional development refers to Marine Biologists’ overall dedication to improving their skills and proficiency throughout their active careers, whether through work-based learning, a professional activity, formal education, or self-directed learning.
There are numerous CPD courses, seminars, and workshops available to assist professionals in the sector. Courses differ according to your area of expertise. Species identification, survey skills, practical skills for marine scientists, GIS, and other specialty software, environmental impact assessments, and the use of acoustic and seismic equipment are examples of what they can contain.
Training opportunities differ per employer, therefore when applying for jobs, you should enquire about the sort of training provided and prospects for professional development.
CPD enables people to consistently improve their skills, regardless of their age, career, or degree of expertise. It keeps practical and academic credentials from becoming obsolete. It allows Marine Biologists to discover knowledge gaps and advance to a new specialization.
Marine biology is a rapidly changing field. Vitae, a non-profit global leader with over 50 years of expertise in strengthening researchers’ skills, will provide assistance and extra training. Vitae provides training, resources, events, consultancy, and membership in collaboration with governments, research funders, academies, professional organizations, trusts & foundations, universities, and research institutes.
You will be required to present research findings and papers at conferences, to get your work published in peer-reviewed journals, and to apply for research funds. Underwater research trips will require you to have hands-on, practical, analytical, and decision-making skills.
Businesses may offer training in boat handling and crewing, sea survival, firefighting, first aid, health and safety, risk assessment, and heavy lifting equipment use.
In the early phases of your career, your willingness to relocate is critical, and you may need to make several lateral moves to gain experience and create contacts. Your capacity to create and exploit opportunities will have a significant impact on your rate of advancement in the area.
Keep up with marine news and developments by reading professional publications and following prominent peers on social media.
Marine Biology is more than just sun-kissed beaches, encounters with exotic sea life, and diving into beautiful tropical seas warmed by the summer sun. Marine biologists may also be required to operate in the field during monsoons and dive into the frigid, stormy waters of the Arctic, Baltic, and Irish Sea. They are motivated to safeguard the oceans and, ultimately, the globe because it is what people should do – protect what they care about.
Advice from the Wise
No water. No life. No blue. No green. The greatest danger to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.