Career Study Project:
Marine Biology


Marine biology is the study of organisms that live in the sea. It deals with all forms of life in the oceans, from viruses so small they can be viewed only with the most powerful electronic microscopes to whales, the largest living animals.

Marine biologists do numerous things in their working day. They describe and classify marine organisms. They try to determine how these organisms develop, how they obtain food, how they reproduce, how they interact with other organisms, and why they live where they live.

You need to be highly educated to be a marine biologist.
It is important to take high school courses such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, and language will provide a good educational level. Good grades are essential for admission to a university.

Most entry-level marine mammal jobs require a B.S. degree, that has a major in biology, chemistry, physics, geology, or psychology. A minor in any science, computer science, mathematics, statistics, or engineering also is also a good choice. Because marine mammals are found worldwide, foreign language training often is useful.

A student must first become a scientist before focusing in marine mammals. Usually, undergraduate students will concentrate on a basic science curriculum and rarely have an opportunity to take courses related to marine mammal science. A focus marine mammals generally comes later through practical work experience or while working toward an advanced degree. Maintaining a high grade point average as an undergraduate is very important to gain admission to graduate school.

The master's degree is typically the first opportunity college students have to specialize in marine mammal science. You should take Care to select an advisor with experience in the subject and a reputable university focus on marine mammal science.

With a B.S. degree, other possible positions include animal care specialist, animal trainer, field technician, and laboratory technician. Typically though, jobs at this level offer little opportunity for self-directed work.

Years of practical work experience sometimes can substitute for a graduate degree, but the time required to advance is typically longer.

One important fact about a marine biologist’s salary is that marine mammal scientists enter this field for the satisfaction of the work, not for the money-making possibilities of the career. Salaries vary greatly among marine mammal scientists, with government and industry jobs having the highest pay. Salary levels will also, as in most jobs, increase with years of experience and graduate degrees, but generally remain low considering the amount of experience and education needed. A 1990 survey of 1,234 Mammalogists conducted by the American Society of Mammalogists indicated that 42.7% of the respondents earned less than $40,000/year. The salary range that included the most respondents (21.2%) was the $30,000-$40,000 range.

Finally some special requirements in a marine mammal study career are as follows. You should be able to deal with cold, wet weather conditions. It is essential that you have an avid interest in marine life, and a good education background is also helpful. One last thing that is not essential but helpful is a possible early internship or some other condition where you have worked with marine life during either your teen years or late childhood.