What are the Different Marine Biology Jobs?

Klaus Strasser

Marine biology is a diverse field that can offer many different job opportunities. For example, the marine biologist may study in marine protected areas, contribute to environmental management, assist in the growth and monitoring of marine species, or participate in academic research. Usually, marine biology jobs are available to people who have completed a bachelor's degree in science with an emphasis on marine biology at an accredited institution.

Some marine biologists study plant life.
Some marine biologists study plant life.

In general, marine biology is the study of organisms that inhabit the ocean or other marine environments. Since many types of species may live in or out of the water, the organisms that marine biologists study are not classified according to taxonomy, but rather by habitat. This can mean that marine biologists study anything from microscopic plankton to whales.

A marine biologist may study whales, including the humpback.
A marine biologist may study whales, including the humpback.

Since approximately 71 percent of the earth is covered by water, marine biologists may work in many different environments and locations. Depending upon the different marine biology jobs, some marine biologists may have a scuba-diving certificate, which gives them the proper training certification to work under water. Marine biologists also might work in marine labs, which are specially designed indoor facilities that provide habitat for marine species.

Marine biologists often undergo scuba training so that they can observe their subjects directly.
Marine biologists often undergo scuba training so that they can observe their subjects directly.

It can be common for marine biologists to be experts on a specific marine organism. For example, some marine biologists may be specialists in plant life, while others can be ichthyologists, meaning that they are experts in the study of fish. Some of the marine biology jobs that are available could correspond to the expertise of the marine biologist.

A fishery biologist is a type of marine biologist who may compile and analyze demographic statistics about fish. In these marine biology jobs, fish and shellfish usually are raised in a fishery marine lab, where marine biologists look for ways to help improve the health and lifespan of the fish. Fishery workers might look for strategies that help preserve exploited or endangered stocks of fish.

Protecting the marine environment can be another job for the marine biologist. These marine conservationists aim to sustain the ecosystem of marine environments, helping to secure a future for the organisms that inhabit them and promoting biodiversity. Marine conservationists can draw on traditional marine biology and other areas such as oceanography, genetics, and environmental management to envision projects intended to preserve the environment.

Some marine biologists may work in academics, as well. This can mean that they are an instructor at an institution teaching students about marine biology. They also may be involved in research projects that are being conducted at the school. Some academic marine biologists write textbooks on the subject or submit articles to peer-reviewed scientific journals about their research projects, helping to advance study in the field.

A marine biologist typically focuses on one field of study, such as coral reefs.
A marine biologist typically focuses on one field of study, such as coral reefs.

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Discussion Comments


@MrsPramm - I agree they should be encouraged, but I do think that it's necessary for them to be somewhat realistic. Not all marine biologists are going to be studying and swimming with dolphins or whales and most marine biology research jobs are going to be food or resource related. That's just where most of the funding ends up.

The thing is that high school students might not realize that most people studying sea snails and jellyfish are happy to be doing it. Once you get to a certain level of scientific inquiry a jellyfish can be just as fascinating as a dolphin.


@Mor - The aggravating thing about that is that marine science is one of the sciences that we need more people going into, particularly with a view to conservation. And high school teachers shouldn't be telling their students exactly what is going to be available for them in a field like that, because it's constantly changing.

What we do know is that jobs in conservation and marine biology are just going to become more and more ubiquitous as time goes by and the ocean becomes more fragile. Students who are interested in the subject should absolutely be encouraged.


When I was at high school it was the goal of my life to become a marine biologist, because I was really into conservation, particularly of marine mammals. I was good at science and probably would have made a great marine biologist if I'd been encouraged.

But I can clearly remember one of my science teachers telling me that there was no future in marine biology and that, at most, I'd end up researching how to increase the yields of shellfish for people to eat.

Which isn't entirely inaccurate, because food production is certainly one of the more common jobs in marine biology. But she basically and deliberately crushed my dreams and I could never understand why. She didn't tell me, well, there are a wide range of opportunities or you will have to work hard to get into the niche that you're hoping for. She just completely wrecked any optimism I had for the subject.

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