How to become a marine biologist?

Are you more at home in the water than on land? Would you like to study the life in our oceans and seas, from microscopic algae and plankton to whale sharks and blue whales? Find out how to become a marine biologist and dive into an exciting career!

As a marine biologist, you could help us better understand marine life; create more sustainable fisheries; manage the impact of climate change, marine plastic pollution and other human activities on species and ecosystems; encourage others to protect our oceans, and much more.

Whether you’re studying, switching careers or simply exploring potential career paths, this guide will help you understand what marine biologists do, and how you can become one.

Table of Contents

What does a marine biologist do?

Believe it or not, many marine biologists do all their great work without getting their fins wet! Credit: Love The Oceans.

Marine biologists study marine organisms and their interactions with the environment (including humans). They might specialise in anything from marine food chains or fish behaviour to how marine ecosystems are impacted by human activities.

Here are just a few examples of what marine biologists can do:

  • Marine ecology: Studying how marine organisms relate to their living and non-living environment.
  • Behavioural ecology: Studying the behaviour of marine species
  • (Biological) oceanography: Study the physical, chemical and biological properties of oceans.
  • Modelling. Build models to estimate the distribution and abundance of marine life in different locations
  • Genetics: Studying the genetic diversity of marine species.
  • Physiology: Understanding how marine physiological processes are impacted by factors like climate change or pollution.
  • Taxonomy: Discovering and classifying new marine species.
  • Paleobiology: Studying fossil marine organisms.
  • Reproductive biology: Studying how marine species reproduce.
  • Systematics: Studying the diversification of marine organisms, and their relationships through time.
  • Molecular biology: Studying the activities within marine organisms at the level of cellular molecules like proteins.

Marine biologists can apply science to areas such as:

  • Sustainable fisheries management
  • Informing and influencing marine policy
  • Monitoring and managing marine pollution
  • Marine environmental education
  • Controlling non-native and invasive species
  • Informing environmentally sustainable development (ecological consultancy), for example by assessing the impact development projects may have one marine life and people using Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)
  • Cleaning up contaminated sites or damaged ecosystems (remediation, rehabilitation or restoration)
  • Sustainable shipping 
  • Sustainable tourism (or ecotourism)
  • Putting a value on the benefits that nature provides us (Environmental economics)
  • Understanding past environments and climates
  • Carrying out ex-situ (off-site) conservation in aquariums, etc.

Marine biologists might also choose to specialise on specific areas, such as:

  • Tropical marine biology: Studying tropical marine organisms and ecosystems
  • Benthic (sea floor) or pelagic (open ocean) systems
  • Marine phycology: Studying marine algae
  • And of course… marine conservation biology!

If you’re considering a career as a marine biologist, the sea’s the limit! Once trained, you might choose to become a champion for sharks, help local communities manage their fisheries, or help governments determine where to place marine reserves.

Where do marine biologists work?

A marine biologist identifying corals. Credit: Indo Ocean Project.
Whether you enjoy being in the field, in an office, in a lab, or diving at remote field sites, you can find an environment you thrive in with a marine biology career.
 
Understanding the five main employer types can help you navigate a career in marine biology. They are:
  • Academia – Help create the research base that practitioners need to effectively conserve marine species and ecosystems. Employers are typically universities and colleges, such as the University of Exeter (UK), James Cook University (Australia), or the University of Hawai’i (USA).
  • Charity – Contribute to not-for-profit and non-governmental conservation activities with the Charity, NGO or ‘Third Sector.’ Examples include the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC – International), Love the Oceans (Mozambique), SeaLegacy (Canada, USA), Project Biodiversity (Cabo Verde) and Blue Marine Foundation (UK). 
  • BusinessWork with for-profit private companies or consulting firms that support marine conservation, such as Fishtek Marine (UK), Ocean Science Consulting (OSC) (UK), Archipelago (Canada) and Anchor Environmental (South Africa).
  • Government – Help set regional, national or international policies, and enforce best practice with the public sector or civil service. Examples of government institutions and agencies include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceCEFAS (UK), DFO (Canada) and CSIRO (Australia).
  • Enterprise – Join the start-up, social enterprise or innovation movement, applying commercial strategies to maximise improvements in environmental and human well-being. Examples are Blue Ventures, GVI and Lindblad Expeditions.

Want to discover more great marine biologist employers? As a Conservation Careers Academy member, check out our Career Explorer database with over 30,000 jobs from around the world.

What is a typical marine biologist job description?

Dr Oluyemisi (Yemi) Oloruntuyi, Head of the Global Accessibility Program at the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Credit: MSC.

Marine biology is a broad theme of work, encompassing each of the 15 key conservation job types. But marine biology is also uber-diverse, encompassing many sub-sectors / areas of focus – such as fisheries, pollution, endangered species, Marine Protected Areas, and more.

If you’re worried about whether your skillset is needed, you can put that fear to rest!

If you’re specifically interested in marine conservation, you can also head over to our ultimate guide, Marine Conservation Jobs.

15 key marine conservation job types

Marine biologists can apply their skills across many of the 15 key conservation job types, including:

  1. Animal Welfare Marine Conservation Jobs | Caring for animals.
    Examples of early career job titles: Marine Stranding Network Coordinator, Veterinarian.
    Examples of employers: working for a marine animal response centre or stranding network.
  2. Communications & Marketing Marine Conservation Jobs | Raising the profile of conservation
    Examples of early career job titles:
     Communications Officer/Specialist, Marketing Officer, Social Media Assistant, Magazine Editor, TV Assistant, Writer, Wildlife Journalist, Presenter or Blogger.
    Examples of employers: The world’s your oyster! Almost every organisation needs support with this.
  3. Community-based Marine Conservation Jobs | Helping people to be part of the solution
    Examples of early career job titles: Community Outreach Officer, Local Empowerment Officer
    Examples of employers: Blue Ventures, Positive Change for Marine Life.
  4. Countryside Management, Warden & Ranger Marine Conservation Jobs | Saving key sites for nature
    Examples of early career job titles:
     Assistant Warden, Assistant Ranger, Countryside Ranger, Park Ranger, Estate Worker, Reserves Officer.
    Examples of employers: The Wildlife Trusts.
  5. Ecotourism Marine Conservation Jobs | Helping people experience the natural world
    Examples of early career job titles: Scuba Instructor, Field Guide, Snorkel Guide, Certification Coach, Sustainability Advisor.
    Examples of employers: NATUCATE, Audley Travel.
  6. Ecological Consultancy Conservation Jobs | Ensuring ecologically-sensitive development
    Examples of early career job titles: Ecologist, Assistant Ecologist, Graduate Ecologist.
    Examples of employers: APEM, Atkins.
  7. Environmental Economics & Ecosystem Assessment Marine Conservation Jobs | Putting a value on nature
    Examples of early career job titles: Economics Programme Officer, Junior Environmental Economist, Sustainable Finance Assistant.
    Examples of employers: Ecologic Institute.
  8. Environmental Education Marine Conservation Jobs | Increasing awareness and support for nature
    Examples of early career job titles: Learning Officer, Education Officer, Environmental Educator, Schools Outreach Officer, Learning Assistant, Schools Outreach Project Officer, Education Assistant.
    Examples of employers: The Wildlife Trusts, Seal Rescue Ireland.
  9. Fundraising & Development Marine Conservation Jobs | Raising money to save nature
    Examples of early career job titles: Membership Development Officer, Fundraising Officer, Membership Development Assistant, Development Officer.
    Examples of employers: Any charity!
  10. Mapping & GIS Marine Conservation Jobs | Putting nature on the map
    Examples of early career job titles: GIS Technical Support Officer, GIS Spatial Modeller, GIS Spatial Modeller, GIS / Ecology Graduate, GIS Technical Support Officer, GIS Officer.
    Examples of employers: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  11. Marine Conservation Jobs | Protecting the blue planet. Marine conservation is a job type in its own right. Check out our guide to Marine Conservation Jobs for more info!
  12. Photography and Film-making Marine Conservation Jobs | Storytelling for change
    Examples of early career job titles: Freelance Photographers, Photo-journalists, Film-makers, Editors, Producers.
    Examples of employers: SeaLegacy.
  13. Policy & Advocacy Marine Conservation Jobs | Saving wildlife through law
    Examples of early career job titles: Policy and Advocacy Officer, Policy Advisor, Campaigns and Policy Assistant.
    Examples of employers: Ocean Conservancy, Oceana, Greenpeace.
  14. Programme & Project Management Marine Conservation Jobs | Saving the world one project at a time
    Examples of early career job titles: Project Officer, Junior Project Officer, Project Assistant, Programme Officer and Programme Assistant, Project Manager, Programme Manager.
    Examples of employers: National Geographic, Fauna & Flora International.
  15. Science & Research Marine Conservation Jobs | Answering the key questions to tackle biodiversity loss
    Examples of early career job titles: Field Assistant, Research Assistant, Science Officer.
    Examples of employers: University of Exeter Marine, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Because marine biologist careers are so diverse, we’ve summarised common job duties for a few typical careers.

Sector-specific marine conservation jobs

Let’s dive into some of the sub sectors within marine biologist careers.

Diving

Divers are in-demand for their specialised skillset – which can be applied in many different ways, such as:

  • The recreational dive industry – such as divemaster or dive instructor working with students, tourists, volunteers or interns in the ecotourism or conservation travel sector.
  • Commercial diving – such as a diver for an ecological consultancy.
  • The public service – such as a diver with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the USA, conducting marine patrols.
  • Science and research – such as conducting scientific field surveys or monitoring protected sites, with universities, charities, government and government-sponsored agencies or aquariums.
  • Underwater photography and videography, such as an Undersea Specialist with LindBlad Expeditions and National Geographic or Shark Girl Madison.
  • Technology, such as operating remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

Diving Jobs | Career Stories & Advice – Read the latest here.

Marine spatial planning

Despite covering 71% of Earth’s surface, we have protected less than 4% of the oceans (and enforced protection of even less). 2020 World Oceans Day called on world leaders to protect 30% of oceans by 2030 (‘30×30’) through a network of highly protected areas.

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an inclusive and transparent process of managing human activities in marine areas in space and time. It brings together diverse ocean users – including government, local communities, industry, tourism, energy and others – aiming to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives. Discover which countries are using MSP.

Marine Spatial Planning Jobs | Career Stories & Advice – Read the latest here.

Fisheries

If sustainable fishing is your passion, you’ll find no shortage of jobs in this diverse subsector of marine conservation careers. They include:

  • Fisheries Biologists – scientists / wildlife biologists who study fish and their habitats / conduct basic or applied research – from understanding the health of fish populations to broader ecology. Includes everything from working at hatcheries for commercial production to mapping ocean fish stocks. They might even be called on as witnesses for “corporate negligence cases (oil spills etc)”!
  • Fisheries Officers and Fisheries Observers – The ‘eyes on the water’, these independent specialists are deployed on fishing vessels or stationed in processing plants to collect data and report on fisheries operations to support science, conservation and management. Employed by government agencies or third party contractors, their data might be used to ensure compliance with regulations, assess fish populations, set fishing quotas and much more.
  • Seafood sourcing and supply chain management – working with commercial organisations to support sustainable buying commitments and overseeing all steps in the supply chain from ocean to table – such as with the Marine Stewardship Council (International) or Ocean Wise seafood (national – Canada).
  • Aquaculturist – responsible for farming/cultivating aquatic organisms such as freshwater and marine fish and shellfish, playing an important role in quality management and sustainability.

Fisheries Jobs | Career Stories & Advice – Read the latest here.

Climate change

From ocean warming and acidification, to coral bleaching and coastal sea level rise, the need to combat the effects of climate change on our oceans and ecosystems (and the coastal communities who rely on them) has never been greater.

Did you know that ‘blue carbon’ – stored in coastal ecosystems like mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass beds – “store up to 10 times more carbon … per hectare than terrestrial forests.”

This subsector of marine conservation careers is its own theme of work – including all 15 key conservation job types.

Marine Climate Change Jobs | Career Stories & Advice – Read the latest here.

Aquarium Jobs

Aquariums are powerhouses for species conservation efforts and environmental education. They offer diverse employment opportunities including:

  • Aquariums-offer-diverse-marine-conservation-jobsCurator – Manage or Oversee part or all of an aquarium’s animal collection
  • Veterinarian or Veterinary Technician – Responsible for the health of animal collections, or assisting the veterinarian in providing care to animals.
  • Aquarist or Senior/Head Aquarist – Provide or supervise regular care to animals, such as diet preparation, cleaning, exhibit maintenance and record keeping.
  • Registrar – maintains records of animal collections and handles permitting and licensing for holding or transporting animals.
  • Director/Coordinator of Research – directs or coordinates scientific research projects and publications, liaising with the academic community.
  • Director/Coordinator of Conservation – directs or coordinates the aquarium’s conservation initiatives (research and/or field), liaising with conservation organisations and government agencies.
  • Conservation Biologist / Zoologist – Provides technical and/or scientific support for animal collection management and conservation projects.
  • Director / Assistant Director / CEO – Lead an aquarium’s operation and future plans.

Aquarium jobs can also include Communications & MarketingEnvironmental Education and Fundraising & Development.

For a comprehensive list of aquarium jobs, see Types of Zoo and Aquarium Jobs by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and Zoo and Wildlife Career FAQs by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

How much money does a marine biologist make?

Credit: North Wales Wildlife Trust.

According to the National Careers Service, the average salary for a biologist in the United Kingdom (all areas and sectors) ranges all the way from £14,000 for someone just starting out, to £70,000 for an experienced biologist. For example, this Marine Biologist – Rothera role with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) was offered at £24,685. The average salary for a marine biologist in London is expected to increase by 16% from 2021 to 2026

According to the Economic Research Institute, the average salary for a marine biologist in the United States is $78,660 a year and $38 an hour. Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists in the US earn an average wage of $66,250 per year and $31.85 per hour
 
Smaller NGOs may also sponsor accommodation, meals and/or flights/transport in exchange for temporary, early career contracts for recent graduates. Examples include: 

What is the job demand for marine biologists?

While specific data on marine biologists isn’t available, 17,710 zoologists and wildlife biologists were employed in the US in May 2017, alongside 104,550 biological scientists and 22,040 conservation scientists.

At Conservation Careers we’ve posted 2,329 marine conservation jobs from 2014 to 2021.

What are marine biologist education requirements?

Most marine biologist jobs require an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree in (marine) biology or ecology, aquatic biology, animal science, zoology, botany or conservation biology. Many also accept degrees in a related field such as environmental science, natural resources management, geology or oceanography.
 
Some jobs prefer or require a master’s, while a PhD is often required for academic research and teaching jobs. Some marine biologists may also choose to become professionally certified in their region or country.
 
When starting a career as a marine biologist, real-life experience can greatly increase your chances of landing a job. We recommend gaining experience to complement your study through internships, volunteering and other work experience schemes.
 
Check out these resources:

How do I get a marine biology degree?

Search our Conservation Training board for degrees and courses related to marine biology, such as:

What are the top marine biologist skills?

Despite being a science-based career path, interpersonal and communication skills are important for most marine biologist jobs. Credit: Love The Oceans.

To give a snapshot of some common skills and experience employers are looking for, we’ve summarised key skills from 13 job descriptions for marine biologists posted over the past 4 years. These jobs include:

Specialist skills
 
Frequent:
  • Data analysis, e.g. using R 
  • Technical and report writing skills / preparing publications
  • Taxonomic skills

Occasional:

  • Dive certification at varying levels
  • GIS (e.g. using QGIS), GPS and spatial analysis
  • Project management including planning, funding, implementation and reporting
  • Animal husbandry
  • Modelling

Transferable skills

Frequent:

  • Strong verbal and written communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to interact with a broad range of stakeholders / partners / audiences / technical backgrounds
  • Organisational skills
  • Ability to work independently / with minimal supervision
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • MS office packages, specifically Excel and PowerPoint
  • Delivering presentations 

Occasional:

  • Project management
  • Fundraising
  • Database management
  • Willingness to travel 
  • Physical fitness

Experience

Frequent:

  • Field research and/or monitoring 
  • Marine survey techniques (e.g. species surveys, habitat assessments, social science surveys) 
  • Experience with specific taxonomic groups 

Occasional:

  • Living or working in a particular region or context (e.g. developing country, tropics, etc.) 
  • Working in remote locations and/or with limited resources and/or challenging situations
  • Multi-disciplinary collaboration 
  • Working with customers / guests / volunteers 
  • Working with local communities
  • Other languages 
  • Processing samples 
  • Survey design 
  • Managing teams 
  • Proposal development 
  • Publication record 
  • Knowledge of marine environmental regulations 
  • Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Managing external consultants/contractors 
  • Specialist experience such as bioacoustics 
For the best insights into the skills and experience required to be competitive as a marine biologist, we recommend identifying your target marine biologist job, and using our Career Explorer Database to find example job descriptions listing the criteria employers are looking for. If you’re not already a Conservation Careers Academy member, you can sign up for a free trial here.
 

Check out our analysis of nearly 30,000 conservation jobs, from over 100 countries, to identify the top conservation skills that employers want.

Learn how to communicate your marine biology skills and experience to employers in our webinar How to Apply for Any Conservation Job or download our step-by-step conservation job application guide for easy reference.

You can also check out Marine conservation job application tips and tricks from The Reef-World Foundation, which gives real-life feedback to applicants for one of the organisation’s job opportunities.

What societies and professional organisations of marine biologists exist?

  • There are 100s of societies and professional organisations for marine biologists worldwide. Here are a few to get you started:
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. ASLO is a scientific society originally established in 1936 with the goal of advancing the sciences of limnology and oceanography. This vibrant community publishes journals, offers fellowships and travel grants, provides many resources (including early career resources), offers discounts on professional development opportunities and much more – for very affordable membership fees. 
  • Marine Biological Association. Active since 1884, MBA is one of the world’s longest-running societies dedicated to promoting research into our oceans and the life they support, with membership in over 40 countries. Membership includes access to publications, bursaries, networking, discounts, jobs and internships and much more. MBA also run a leading marine biological research laboratory where 7 Nobel prize winners have carried out their research.
  • SCB Marine Section. The Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is a home for marine conservation sciences and public policy, with a global focus. They offer a small grants program and a bravery award.
  • The MarineBio Conservation Society. MarineBio is a nonprofit volunteer marine conservation and science education group active since 1998. They work “online together to educate the world about ocean life, marine biology, marine conservation, and to provide a sea ethical that we should all attempt to follow.”
  • American Fisheries Society. AFS is “the world’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science, and conserving fisheries resources.” They promote scientific research and sustainable management, publish fish journals, organize scientific meetings, and encourage education and professional development. Their 8,000+ worldwide members include fisheries managers, biologists, professors, ecologists and more.
  • American Academy of Underwater Sciences. Officially chartered in 1983, the AAUS aims to “advance and facilitate safe and productive scientific diving.” They have more than 130 organizational members and over 1,100 individual members, which include benefits such as scholarships, resources, workshops, research support, training and certification, and much more.
  • American Cetacean Society. Founded in 1967, ACS “is recognized as the first whale, dolphin, and porpoise conservation group in the world.” They are “dedicated to bringing education, current research, and critical conservation issues to people who care about cetaceans and the habitats on which they depend. Membership benefits include publications, networking, presentations, volunteering, discounts on whale watching trips, and much more. They also have a student coalition.
  • Cetacean Society International. CSI is an “all-volunteer, non-profit conservation, education and research organization working on behalf of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and their marine environment.” They offer grants and resources.

Stanford University publishes a useful list of Marine Biology Organizations and Institutions, primarily in the USA.

The Center for Marine Biodiversity & Conservation also publishes a list of Marine Professional & Membership Organizations

Explore more societies and professional organisations related to conservation, or fuel your passion for plants with popular botanist societies.

Meet marine biologist role models

Meet some of the world's most renowned marine biologists. Many other marine biologists make important contributions to marine life and local communities every day. Credit: Love The Oceans.

Just a few famous marine biologists include:

  • Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist, conservationist and author, whose book Silent Spring (1962) convinced thousands of Americans to take action for the environment.
  • Eugenie Clark, an American fish scientist (ichthyologist) known as ‘The Shark Lady’ who was one of the first people to conduct underwater scientific research using scuba gear, focusing her research on poisonous fish and sharks.
  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a French explorer, marine conservationist, filmmaker and author who pioneered scuba gear and educated the public about the sea through books and documentaries.
  • Charles Darwin, an early marine biologist who studied coral reefs and marine invertebrates including plankton and barnacles.
  • Sylvia Earle, an American marine conservationist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, who was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Hans Hass, an Austrian marine biologist who redeveloped Cousteau’s early scuba gear for underwater professionals, and one of the first people to use an underwater camera to record aquatic life for documentaries and photos.
  • Steve Irwin, an Australian zookeeper, TV host and conservationist who co-hosted ‘The Crocodile Hunter’ documentary series and co-owned and operated Australia Zoo before his demise from a stingray while filming in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
  • Sir Charles Wyville Thompson, a Scottish naturalist and zoologist specialising in marine invertebrates, who participated in several marine expeditions, including the HMS Challenger expedition, and discovered thousands of new marine species.

Find your own marine biologist role model! Read interviews with professional marine biologists from around the world, such as:

Search all the latest marine biologist jobs

Search all the latest marine biologist jobs on our Conservation Job Board

Explore marine biologist career resources

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Does the idea of working on coral reef conservation using cutting edge science excite you? How about living on an island helping tourists to participate and learn about coral conservation? Conservation Careers Blogger Bill Boteler interviewed Simon Dixon to learn about his work restoring damaged coral reefs. Simon is …
Are you thinking about a career in marine conservation? Have you thought about working for a charity? At a charity, you can spend your life helping others, especially those without a voice!  The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) is the voice for Australia’s oceans. They’re the sole national charity devoted to defending marine life!  …
Have you ever wanted to pursue your creativity and conservation at the same time? Would you love to combine diverse passions in one meaningful career? Juliana Corrales is a Creative Consultant (Design and Communications) who grew up in Costa Rica before launching her international career. Today she helps marine …
Jillian Morris, more commonly known as Bimini Shark Girl, is a shark advocate. She’s a queen of marine biology, ocean conservation and videography! She started her journey in marine conservation behind the lens. Using photography and videography to message about the importance of sharks and to help people understand …
“We come from the Ocean; we are all 80% water”. James Nikitine’s passion and determination to protect the world’s oceans can be traced right back to childhood. It began with family holidays in Corsica: scrambling down craggy rocks, bare legs scratched by dense scrub, the intense heat of the …
Do you want a job in marine conservation? We have good news for you. There are more options to go down than just the traditional routes to starting a career in marine conservation! Think outside the box, and you could become an ocean entrepreneur and start up your own …
Madison Stewart, AKA Shark Girl Madison is a woman on a mission to save the ocean’s most misunderstood inhabitants: sharks. She was 2019’s Australian Geographic Society’s Young Conservationist of the Year. She’s been campaigning for over ten years. She’s been successful at lobbying the government to shut down shark …
Bella Jack works as the Project Co-ordinator and Tanjong Jara Site Co-Manager for Lang Tengah Turtle Watch (LTTW), a small conservation organisation based on the East coast of Malaysia. LTTW was founded in 2014 with the aim to help save sea turtles from extinction, and to date has expanded …

FAQs

Marine biologists study marine organisms and their interactions with the environment (including humans). They might specialise in anything from marine food chains or fish behaviour to how marine ecosystems are impacted by human activities.

The average salary for a biologist (all areas and sectors) in the UK ranges all the way from £14,000 for someone just starting out, to £70,000 for an experienced biologist.

The average salary for a marine biologist in the United States is $78,660 a year and $38 an hour. 

The average salary for a biologist (all areas and sectors) in the UK ranges all the way from £14,000 for someone just starting out, to £70,000 for an experienced biologist.

The average salary for a marine biologist in the United States is $78,660 a year and $38 an hour. 

Most marine biologist jobs require an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree. Some more senior, specialised and/or research-focussed roles may require a master’s or PhD.

Marine biology can be a competitive sector, so it’s important to identify any specific skills and experience you’ll need to become competitive in your target role, and to learn to submit high quality job applications.

Most marine biologist jobs require an undergraduate (Bachelor’s) degree. Some more senior, specialised and/or research-focussed roles may require a master’s or PhD.

Marine biology can be a competitive sector, so it’s important to identify any specific skills and experience you’ll need to become competitive in your target role, and to learn to submit high quality job applications.

Approximately 3-4 years (the duration of an undergraduate degree). You may need additional experience to become employable and competitive.


Useful links & free stuff

Get ready to dive into your marine biologist career with these great resources!
To help you navigate your options, please select which best describes you:
  • You want to work in conservation but you’re feeling lost, disillusioned or confused?!? Check out our Kick-Starter training designed to help you understand the job market, to navigate your career options, and to get hired more quickly. It’s designed for students, graduates, job-seekers and career-switchers. We’re proud to say it also has 100% satisfaction and recommendation ratings. We know you’ll love it. Find out more about our Kick-Starter – Online Course.
  • You need answers to top questions about working in conservation? Check out our free Ultimate Guides covering topics like the 15 Key Conservation Job Types, Top Conservation Internships | Paid or Free and Marine Conservation Jobs, and answering questions like How to Switch Careers into Conservation, Do I need a Master’s Degree? and much more! Or download our free guides to keep and read later!
  • You want to know how to quickly and easily start your career as a professional wildlife conservationist, but are short on time? Learn the golden rule for getting started, the key mistakes to avoid and answers to your biggest questions in our free video training series, How to get a conservation job.
  • You feel ready to be applying for jobs in conservation? Check out our membership packages for job seekers which provide access to the world’s biggest conservation job board – with over 10,000 conservation jobs shared each year – plus a range of other benefits. Check out our monthly memberships here.
  • You’re submitting applications, but failing to get many interviews? Check out our FREE eBook Conservation Jobs: The Step-by-Step System to Get Hired as a Wildlife Conservationist – available on Kindle, EPUB and PDF. We can also review your applications, and provide 1:1 advice on how to improve them. Check out our application support here.
  • You’ve got an interview (well done!) and would like our help to prepare for it? We know what employers want, and have helped many people prepare for and deliver successful interviews. Check out our interview preparation here.
  • You’re feeling stuck, struggling with a career decision or something’s holding you back from pursuing the career of your dreams? Our 1:1 career coaching can help you gain clarity about your next steps and form a plan of action. Check out our career coaching here