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Marine Biologist Job Description, Career as a Marine Biologist, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Training/Educational Requirements: Master’s degree preferred

Median Salary: $50,000 per year

Job Prospects: Fair

Job Description

At the most fundamental level, a marine biologist works to research the sea and the life forms that dwell within it. There are varying degrees of work and specializations within marine biology. Marine biologists study not only the plants and animals that live in the ocean but also their habitat and how certain factors may affect them.

Marine biologists work in a role where observation and research is a main focus. They conduct controlled experiments and observe how certain factors work within that environment. They may work strictly in this scientific-based role, or they may work on unscheduled rescue missions, using their knowledge of how sea creatures live and what they require.

Marine biologists are considered to be experts in aquatics and are certainly subject-matter experts on different animals and plants that live in the sea. Because they perform research, marine scientists may conduct experiments and observations out in the field, at a specific site, or in their own laboratories for a more controlled environment. In addition to the research, biologists must perform any analysis and complete all necessary paperwork. In many instances, they must turn their observations into findings that can be used for a variety of different purposes and by a variety of different people.

Marine biologists use their knowledge and experience in different ways. They may work strictly in a research role, where they provide findings for academic purposes. They may work in a laboratory as scientists running experiments that can benefit the animal community or even humans. They may work on rescue missions or to help support animals in the sea that are endangered or in trouble. They usually perform some level of observation, handle any analysis, and then turn all of that into usable reports.

Training/Educational Requirements

When entering a career as a marine biologist, a scientist may find that a bachelor’s degree may be the only requirement. For an entry-level role, the education requirement may be minimal because the focus is on building up the marine biologist’s experience level. For aquatic scientists who wish to move on with their career, a master’s degree will be essential. This is especially important for those who wish to handle research or move onto a more advanced role within marine education.

Marine biologists are considered to be subject-matter experts on plants and animals that live in the sea, and therefore ongoing training is highly recommended. Keeping up with various forms of sea life and how they live is essential, and so taking workshops or attending seminars on an ongoing basis can be a crucial part of the job. This becomes especially important for those who wish to publish work or who wish to turn their findings into valuable action. It can be helpful if marine biologists focus their efforts on a certain area or specialization, and therefore any coursework or training in that area can be quite helpful.

How to Get Hired

The best way to get hired initially as a marine biologist is to have a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline. Having a degree, or at least some coursework, in marine biology specifically can be of tremendous help, though a degree in biology or similar scientific field can help an individual to get hired. As a marine biologist progresses in her or his career, experience will play a more important role in getting hired.

Though there are a variety of different environments and focuses that marine biologists may target, they must have some level of experience in observation and conducting experiments. To get hired, it is essential to show experience in work that was key in a certain research area.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Unfortunately there is not a big need for more marine biologists, because this is a rather competitive field. Currently the number of job openings is fewer than the actual marine biologists available for work. There are other disciplines within biology that also focus on marine life, and that means fewer job openings for marine biologists. Adding to the problem is that many universities are no longer offering degree programs in marine biology.

Marine bilogy is often a misunderstood field, with many people not knowing the value of this occupation. This means the replacement of marine biology positions with a job description different but closely related. It can also be tough in some instances to get funding for the types of experiments and observation that a marine biologist conducts, and this means fewer jobs in marine biology.

Working Environment

The working environment may vary for a marine biologist. In most instances, marine scientists usually maintain some sort of laboratory where they can conduct their observation and experiments. They may spend their whole day in this lab or they may use it only part of the time. Marine biologists may travel to outside sites to handle certain aspects of research or experiments directly.

As they are considered to be subject-matter experts on plant and animal life that lives in the sea, marine biologists may be called upon for rescue missions, such as oil spills, to which they may have to travel. Marine biologists may be called upon to help present their findings, and this may mean potential travel to larger meetings or workshops. This is usually not a job that involves a lot of stress, and the work schedule may vary quite a bit based on the level of work being provided.

Salary and Benefits

Though the average salary for a marine biologist is about $50,000, this is a field where experience counts. The more experience marine biologist have, the higher they can expect their salary to rise to. In some instances, marine biologists with over 10 to 15 years of experience may earn upwards of $80,000 annually. As there are a variety of different environments that marine biologists may work in, their benefits may vary accordingly. They can usually expect to receive paid vacation and sick days, as well as medical coverage. Marine biologists may expect to receive a 401k or some sort of related retirement savings, and may even receive more in the way of benefits depending on the employer.

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