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What is Marine Biology?
Marine biology is a form of wildlife biology that studies animals in salt water environments. A degree in marine biology will provide student with the knowledge necessary to understand, study and evaluate such animals and how they operate in their environment. Marine biology is typically pursued at the graduate level, with interested students obtaining an undergraduate degree in a related field, commonly biology though not necessarily. An understanding of various sciences is required for marine biology, and experience traversing marine environments will be beneficial. Students pursuing marine biology will learn about a variety of animals and organisms that occupy the sea, such as microscopic organisms, deep sea fish that live in sunless environments, crustaceans and mammals. Some marine biologists may choose to focus on a specific group or subgroup.
Did you know approximately 68% of the earth is covered by oceans and seas? Given the sheer size and scope of this water mass, it is not surprising to learn that underwater & aquatic life is immense. On average, an oceans depth is around two and a half miles deep with entire worlds we have yet to discover. It is not difficult to surmise the number of animals, plant life, organisms, biological habitat, and underwater ecology has much to offer humans. Marine biologists are at the heart of research, analysis, exploration, documentation, and restoration of sea life across the world.
A marine biology curriculum will vary from school to school given their unique curricular design and resources. Most students in this sector of biology will take an array of classes that may include the following courses of study:
- Marine Ecology
- Biology of Fishes
- Comparative Animal Physiology
- Invertebrate Zoology
What Does a Marine Biologist Do?
A marine biologist will perform a wide variety of duties defined by the vocation, industry, sector, and job responsibilities defined by their employer. Some of the career tracks for a marine biologist include:
- High School Teacher
- College Professor
- Research Scientist
- Government Consultant
- Lab Tech
- Aquarium Specialist
- Molecular Biologist
- Marine Biotechnology
- Game Warden & Fish Warden
The work setting for a marine biologist wholly depends on the job you elect to pursue after graduation. For example, working as a consultant or research scientist will be a combination office work, computer research, and field work. The variety of working in an office, attending meetings, completing research analysis coupled with hands-on work in the field may be appealing to some prospective professionals. On the other hand, a research vessel analyst will spend the vast majority of their working hours collecting and analyzing with minimal office hours.
Marine Biology Degree Online
Here at MatchCollege, we are often asked by students to help them find colleges that offer marine biology degrees. As a result of the demand for marine biology data, we have created this resource page to help you find on-site and online marine biology degrees. A number of accredited colleges and universities offer online options for marine biologist degrees along with classroom-based degree tracks. In either case, students will have access to top-tier professors, a robust curriculum, and hands-on learning modalities. To learn more about online marine biology degree options, simply request more information from the schools listed below or visit our proprietary online college matching portal today to learn more.
Marine Biology Areas of Specialty
Within the niche field of marine biology, there are a wide range of specialties and subspecialties to consider as a vocational path. Students looking to enter the field may find the following list of marine biology concentrations a fascinating addition to the world of sea life and the study of underwater activity. A sample of areas of study within marine biology include the following:
- Microbial and plankton ecology
- Systems ecology, particularly in salt marshes and estuaries
- Molecular marine biology
- Nekton ecology & behavior, with concentrations in: Sea Turtles, Estuarine, Coastal Fish, Marine Mammals, Sharks
- Invertebrate ecology
- Invasion biology and ecology
- Plankton Ecology: Plankton life, Nutrient dynamics, Algal blooms
- Crustaceans & animal behavior
- Physiological ecology of marine organisms
- Community ecology
- Salt marsh ecology & wetland restoration
- Molluscan ecology
- Seagrass photosynthesis
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Employment Outlook and Biology Career Data
Careers in marine biology are generally limited to research positions through private organizations, government organizations and research institutions. Some may find careers in commercial positions, such as fisheries. Research positions are limited in their availability, primarily due to funding limitations in any given year for new projects versus ongoing projects. This is not to say opportunities are unavailable, only that competition is high and most will work in assistant positions at first.
Due to the increased interest in environmental concerns, some growth is expected in wildlife biology, which includes marine biology. The increased levels of pollution in salt water environments and overfishing have created a need for qualified professionals to study and offer solutions to encroaching problems. Such positions, as noted above, will also be competitive, as will grants and other funding sources that will allow for research. Some research opportunities will take place on site, typically boats or beaches/shores and may require diving operations in order to conduct tests or obtain samples.
The average salary of a wildlife biologist is between $45,000 and $110,000 a year, with experienced and highly educated individuals typically receiving salaries in the upper end of the spectrum and assistants and recent graduates occupying the lower. Individuals interested in marine biology may also be interested in wildlife biology, biology and zoology. For additional information on a career path in biology, visit our Definitive Career Guide in Biology on our blog. As an additional resource, you can also read our blog post titled Top College Degrees for Animal Lovers or visit the MarineBio site.