Training & Education Required For A Marine Biologist

Marine biologists are considered a member of the biological science community. Individuals employed in this field can expect to work in different types of environments. Some marine biologists work in laboratories, while others work on ships at sea. Despite these differences in environment, most marine biologists spend a majority of their time in the lab performing experiments, running tests, recording results of tests and research and putting together vast amounts of information.


Marine biologists must have training in all aspects of performing research. This includes collecting specimen, conducting experiments, compiling information and recording results. This type of training is provided during most college programs relating to any of the biological sciences. After graduating and getting a job, the median salary for marine biologists in the United States as of 2006 was $76,320 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


The depth of the research a marine biologist wants to perform will determine the extent of the education he should receive. A master’s degree and bachelor’s degree are appropriate for some types of career paths for a marine biologist; however, in order to conduct independent studies, teach college-level courses at a university or advance to high positions within a laboratory, a Ph.D. is required. Students of marine biology should also concentrate in the areas of science, math and computer.

Accredited Programs/Training Institutions

Over 60 colleges and master’s degree programs in the United States have programs in marine biology. Among others, schools with programs in marine biology include the Boston University Marine Program, the schools in the University of California (UC) system including UCLA (Los Angeles) and UCSB (Santa Barbara), and the University of Hawaii Marine Science Major. This list is by no means exhaustive, and if you are considering becoming a marine biologist, you can choose from one of many different programs at colleges throughout the United States.

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Other Qualifications Required

Although there is no licensing required besides having the optimal degree to go along with the position and duties one plans to perform, there are some additional qualifications required to be a marine biologist. A candidate in this line of work must operate well in a team environment as well as individually. Depending on one’s individual goals within the field, they must have strong business and communication skills also. Some marine biologists must possess strong physical stamina, and all must possess strong communication skills, both written and oral. Lastly, they must have a great deal of patience and be able to maintain focus to perform complex research over extensive periods of time.

Advancement and Prospects

A well-trained and well-educated marine biologist is able to advance to the top of his field. Advancement strictly depends on one’s degree of education; however, new applicants may have difficulty breaking into the field, as job demand is set to outpace job growth throughout 2016. Competition for positions is already extremely tight as of 2009, and as more and more individuals in this field earn high degrees, that competition is expected to only become worse.