Job Opportunities in Marine Biology – Fields of Study
Updated: Aug 12
When it comes to finding a job in marine biology you may have a limited perspective on what all is out there. I find that most students I talk to are unaware of the huge variety of job opportunities in marine biology.
Below is a list of all the different jobs that are available within different fields of marine science. At the bottom of the post you will find a list of all the different fields within marine science. We have done a ton of research for you so that you can find all the information you need in one place. Hopefully, this will be the most comprehensive list of job opportunities in marine biology available!
Huge thank you to Kendra (@intertidalkendy) for helping co-write this blog! We tried to think of all the different job opportunities in marine biology out there but if you think we missed some let us know!
Careers in Marine Research
Research assistants/technicians are responsible for helping the main research scientist in setting up and executing their project. They often help deal with data collection, equipment, and brainstorming or problem solving. Higher level degrees often lead to opportunities to become the main research scientist.
Recommended degrees include: Marine Science/Biology, Biology, or related field.
A data scientist uses data to predict future events based on past patterns while a data analyst creates meaningful conclusions from data. Those that work with data are often part of a research team. This job is often a part of the research technician/assistant job but can also be its own separate position.
Recommended degrees include: Data Science, Statistics, Marine Science/Biology or related field
Careers in Conservation
Restoration ecologist work in ecosystems needing restoring. They can also create plans to prevent the degradation of ecosystems. They often work to determine the value of ecosystem services and work to protect and restore those environments.
Recommended degrees include: Environmental Science, Ecology, Biology, Marine Science/Biology
Consultants work directly with private or public organizations to determine environmental impact. They can also work to make sure organizations are complying with environmental regulation.
Recommended degrees include: Environmental Science or related field
Environmental law governs humans effects on the environment and often focuses on specific natural resources. Lawyers work with clients in issues of ecology, sustainability, resource management, and legal issues regarding the environment.
Recommended degrees include: Pre-law, Environmental Science or related field.
MARINE RESOURCE MANAGER
Resource managers help to create, implement, and enforce policies to monitor marine resources. Marine resource managers can researchers or monitors of resources as well. Many of the jobs in marine resources are involved in fisheries management.
Recommended degrees include: Biology, Environmental Science, Resource Management
STRANDING & REHABILITATION
Work in stranding and rehabilitation is often focused on assisting in the rescue and rehabilitation of sick or injured animals. They may help to transfer marine life to facilities where they can be assessed by vets. Often associated with zoo and aquaria but can also work for other independent organizations.
Recommended degrees include: Wildlife Biology, Zoology, Marine Science/Biology
Careers in EcoTourism
Educators within ecotourism are primarily there to communicate with guests about the animals they are viewing. This job can often be in combination with one of the jobs listed below. Educators can teach groups of all ages. The skills gained in this role can be great as previous experience to more traditional teaching opportunities.
Recommended degrees include: Marine Science/Biology, Education, Environmental Science or related field.
Divers in ecotourism are often in charge of leading dives, ensuring everyone’s safety, and potentially educating guests. Divemasters are often part of the crew on tourism vessels and may have other responsibilities while one board other than purely in water activities. Every organization has different requirements and expectations of their divemasters/safety divers.
Recommended degrees include: Marine Science/Biology or related field, Divemaster certification required.
Captains operate the vessel. They are responsible for driving and potentially maintaining the boats. Captains may also play a role in guest safety and education depending on the organization.
Recommended degrees include: College degree may not be required at all organizations but can be a useful addition to the required captains license.
Careers in Aquaria
Those working in husbandry are responsible for the day to day care and maintenance of animals housed at aquaria. They often are responsible for tank/enclosure maintenance, feeding, and health and wellness of the animals in care. May assist in some animal training depending on species and workplace.
Recommended degrees include: Marine Science/Biology, Zoology, Biology or related field
Animal trainers and husbandry workers may have some overlap in responsibilities. The main difference is that animal trainers may work more hands on with the animals and are responsible for the training and enrichment provided to the animals in care.
Recommended degrees include: Marine Science/Biology, Zoology, Psychology
Educators at zoo and aquaria are often the link between the animals, caretakers, and the guests visiting. They help to communicate information about the animals to the public. Educators can teach groups of all ages. The skills gained in this role can be great as previous experience to more traditional teaching opportunities.
Recommended degrees include: Marine Science/Biology, Education, Environmental Science or related field
Part of the experience I gained prior to my current job was in the education department at aquaria.
Hydrologists in aquariums primarily focus on water quality in the tanks and enclosures. They specialize in the study of the movement of water and are responsible for maintaining the tanks.
Recommended degrees include: Oceanography, Environmental Science
Aquatic vets are similar to their land-based counterparts in that they are responsible for the treatment and medical care provided to animals. While vets specializing in marine life can work with organizations outside of aquaria, many of the opportunities available to them are associated with captivity. Vets work closely with the animals to determine health, dietary and fitness needs, and overall care. The husbandry team often carries out the plans proposed by vets.
Recommended degrees include: Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, Bachelor degree options include Pre-Vet, Biology, Marine Science/Biology
Individuals working in the outreach departments of zoo and aquaria are often responsible for organizing public events, educational activities, or fundraisers. Their goal is to promote the work being done by the organization and encourage community involvement.
Recommended degrees include: Communications, Marine Science/Biology, Public Relations or related field
Careers in Marine Industrial Work
Scuba Divers for commercial operations are responsible for assessing, repairing, and building some underwater structures. Divers often work in less than ideal conditions and can be faced with dangerous environments. It is not uncommon for divers to spend long periods of time away from home or traveling to specific locations where their skills are needed.
Recommended degrees include: Degree is not necessarily required however degrees in science backgrounds can be an advantage. Specific diving certifications are required.
Engineers can be valuable in a variety of marine related work. Ocean engineers combine skills from mechanical, electrical, civil, acoustical, or chemical engineering. Engineers test and refine instruments and equipment meant to operate in ocean conditions.
Recommended degrees include: Engineering (can be in any relevant focus)
The ROV Pilot is in charge of piloting the remote operating vehicles collecting information and samples along the ocean. ROV Pilots are often crew on large research vessels and may also have other jobs on the ship. Pilots may also operate ROVs commercial vessels, platforms, or onshore labs. They are also responsible for the maintenance and operation of the ROV equipment.
Recommended degrees include: Earth Science, Engineering, Marine Science/Biology or related field
Work in mapping the bottoms of the oceans and the inner workings of the layers of the earth. Often work in energy resource efforts or work to understand potential threats to public safety based on seismic activity.
Recommended degrees include: Geology, Physics or related degree
Environmental economists help to bridge the gap between cost-benefit analysis and the issues affecting the planet. They can assist in policy making and create the economic pressure behind environmental policies. They often work directly with industrial companies to compromise on plans that may effect the environment.
Recommended degrees include: Environmental Science, Business, Finances, Accounting, Statistics
Fields of Marine Science
***There is a field of study for almost every species and ecosystem out there! If you don’t see the exact animal you want to work with on this list it doesn’t mean jobs in that focus don’t exist. Often, each of these fields can be applied to a specific species or environment of study.***
Aquaculture – Farming of aquatic animals and/or plants in fresh or salt water.
Bioacoustics – Studying sounds created by or affecting living organisms. There is a large focus on sounds associated with communication.
Biotechnology – Use of biological processes for human purposes. Often involved in industrial or medical processes.
Coastal/Ocean Engineering – Branch of civil engineering. Primarily focused on the demands of constructing near the coast and the impact of the ocean environment on construction or vis versa.
Ecology – The study of organisms in relation to each other. Topics include biodiversity, population dynamics, competition, adaptation, abundance and distribution of species.
Ethology – The study of animal behavior. Typically focuses on studying behavior in the animal’s natural habitat and behavior as an evolutionary trait.
Husbandry – The day to day care, training, and maintenance of animals. Typically associated with zoo or aquaria.
Marine Botany – The study of aquatic plants.
Maritime Archeology – The study of human interaction with bodies of water through physical remains. Artifacts left underwater are used to study the past.
Microbiology – The study of micro-organisms. Includes but is not limited to immunology and parasitology.
Ocean Governance – The conduction of policies and affairs regarding the world’s oceans.
Oceanography (Biological, Chemical, Physical, Geological) – The study of processes within the ocean. Can be relating to almost any aspect of marine science.
Physiology – The study of parts of an organisms body, how they function, and their role.
Scientific writing, communications, reporting, public relations – Involved in the public education and communication of scientific data and ideas. Often work with brands or organizations to create communications content on a variety of platforms.
Tourism – Jobs in which the main objective is to provide an experience to guests. Often accompanied by some sort of education or conservation goal.
If any of these jobs sound exciting to you then maybe a career in the marine sciences is for you! If you’re a student your next steps are to get involved and find a great university to get your degree from. I hope this list helps to showcase all the variety of job opportunities in marine biology. Keep an open mind! You never know what you will end up falling in love with.