Marine Biologist

Job description

  • Study the origins, behavior, diseases, genetics, and life processes of animals and wildlife. May specialize in wildlife research and management. May collect and analyze biological data to determine the environmental effects of present and potential use of land and water habitats.

Skills required

  • Active Listening
    Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Science
    Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Reading Comprehension
    Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing
    Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking
    Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.


  • Oversee the care and distribution of zoo animals, working with curators and zoo directors to determine the best way to contain animals, maintain their habitats and manage facilities.
  • Study animals in their natural habitats, assessing effects of environment and industry on animals, interpreting findings and recommending alternative operating conditions for industry.
  • Inventory or estimate plant and wildlife populations.
  • Organize and conduct experimental studies with live animals in controlled or natural surroundings.
  • Make recommendations on management systems and planning for wildlife populations and habitat, consulting with stakeholders and the public at large to explore options.
  • Disseminate information by writing reports and scientific papers or journal articles, and by making presentations and giving talks for schools, clubs, interest groups and park interpretive programs.
  • Study characteristics of animals such as origin, interrelationships, classification, life histories and diseases, development, genetics, and distribution.
  • Coordinate preventive programs to control the outbreak of wildlife diseases.
  • Analyze characteristics of animals to identify and classify them.
  • Inform and respond to public regarding wildlife and conservation issues, such as plant identification, hunting ordinances, and nuisance wildlife.
  • Prepare collections of preserved specimens or microscopic slides for species identification and study of development or disease.
  • Perform administrative duties such as fundraising, public relations, budgeting, and supervision of zoo staff.
  • Collect and dissect animal specimens and examine specimens under microscope.
  • Check for, and ensure compliance with, environmental laws and notify law enforcement when violations are identified.
  • Raise specimens for study and observation or for use in experiments.



  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Employment trends:

    Employment (2012) 20,000 employees

    Projected growth (2012-2022) slower than average (3% to 7%)

    Projected job openings (2012-2022) 6,700


     It's possible to fill many positions within the field of marine biology having nothing more than a bachelor's degree and some appropriate experience in the field, but senior and research positions typically require an advanced degree. A master's degree with a focus in a given subject, such as algae, fish, or the effects of pollution on the ecosystem, opens the doors to opportunities in government or research organizations. Those who wish to perform independent research or head research departments must go on to a doctoral degree. Candidates must complete additional advanced coursework and an independent research project, ultimately writing and defending a thesis based on that research.

Working conditions:

     Marine biologists would usually work a fairly typical work week. However, weekend work may also be required, for example when conducting experiments during field work. Marine biologists also work in an office or laboratory environment when preparing reports and papers. They will also spend time in rivers, the ocean or along the shore. This may involve time on fishing vessels or scuba diving.

Additional training required:

  • Internship or externship in the field

Typical day:

     The great thing about a career in biology is how varied the work is. A typical day can range from hours of diving on beautiful reefs; sampling the ocean from boats and ships; working up samples in the laboratory; figuring out the results on computers or writing up the findings for publication. You may be teaching undergraduate students or guiding postgraduate students into the realm of discovery research. If you love doing lots of different things, then you will find marine biology is infectiously exciting.

Amount of physical activity required:

   A marine biologist requires a lot of physical activity, since it is a hands on job.

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