Careers in Marine Biology

marine biology

Careers in marine biology vary greatly based on the area of specialization that you're interested in pursuing. The marine sciences as a whole encompass a much wider range of biological ecosystems than other areas of biology. Oceans, lakes, rivers and marsh lands offer vast and complex ecosystems, and scientists must specialize in order to work within a particular field. All-in-all, when you're looking at careers in marine biology, there are a lot of options to choose from.

Various Careers in Marine Biology

Biological Technician

Marine research or biological technicians combine field work with lab work. They take samples and data from the field and analyze them in the lab to gain a better understanding of marine life. For instance, they might analyze marine tissue samples for information on reproduction or disease. Biological technicians must be organized, patient and detail-oriented.


An Ichthyologist studies the bony fish, sharks and rays in marine and fresh-water environments. Icthyologists often specialize in a certain type of fish, then spend time learning and studying the physiology, life history, anatomy, behavior, ecology and conservation of that type of fish.

Fishery Biologist

A fishery biologist usually works at a commercial, state or federal fishery, maintaining the facility and analyzing the species of fish being bred and cared for. Fishery biologists will analyze breeding and migration behavior and develop management plans for the fish in question. As you gain status within the field, you may participate in judicial trials regarding environmental law and develop fish marking and fish distribution programs.

Marine Mammalogist

Marine mammalogists work with mammals that live in marine settings. This includes species ranging from whales, dolphins and manatees to walruses, sea lions and polar bears. Like Ichthyologists, marine mammalogists often specialize in studying a specific region of the world or a specific species of animal. For instance, a mammalogist might spend her entire career analyzing the life cycle and migration patterns of seals living off the coast of Oregon. Mammalogists can work in a variety of settings including universities, zoos, aquariums and conservation agencies.

Marine Microbiologist

Marine microbiologists study marine life on a very small scale, analyzing and studying marine life at the cellular level. This sometimes involves studying marine viruses, marine genomes, or analyzing the harsh conditions of deep-sea life.

Career Outlook

The marine biology field is extremely competitive, with the number of marine scientists outnumbering the number of available positions. If you want to compete in this field, you may need to pursue advanced degrees in the marine sciences, mathematics or computer science, as these areas of expertise are becoming more and more important.

In addition to receiving your degree, it's important to add practical experience to your resume. Talk to your local zoo, university, fishery or aquarium to see if they offer internships or volunteer opportunities within the marine sciences field. The more applicable experience that you can gain, the better chance you'll have to land a paid position after graduation. Besides, hands-on experience will help you decide which area of marine biology interests you most, helping you narrow your focus within the field.

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Careers in Marine Biology