The ocean is a majestic mystery; if the seas were the size of this screen, the representative amount that has been fully explored by humans would be the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Not very much, right? With the earth being about 70% water, there is an overwhelming amount of exploring to do. That’s why the world needs most marine biologists! How else are we going to discover our history, where we came from, and how our world is evolving? All these answers can be traced back to the sea, where all life on earth began. Still interested? Dive a little deeper and read on!
Marine Biology in itself is a very broad spectrum, so there are often times areas of specialization, such as, Environmental Consultants, Fish and Wildlife Biologists, Fishery Management Biologists, Ichthyologists, Aquarists, and Oceanographers, to name a few (Not sure what those are? Click here to find out!) One thing they all have in common? You are guaranteed at some point to get your hands dirty and your body completely soaked. They don’t call it working “in the field” for nothing.
Although none of the campuses in the USF system offer a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, it is offered as an area of concentration in the Biology department. As a Biology/Marine Science major myself, I’m allowed to be a little biased in saying that this major offers a plethora of opportunities, as far as careers go. If you want a career in this field, here’s some important information you should know.
- Receiving a master’s degree or Ph.D. in marine biology is the most common approach to becoming a marine biologist. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient in many entry-level areas as well, so don’t be scared if grad school wasn’t in your initial plan; it’s not required, but recommended.
- The majority of work conducted by marine biologists is research, research, research. Knowing how to properly work in a laboratory and read/write scientific papers is critical. Various types of technology are used as well, so this is definitely a hands-on type of career.
- If you ask about the pay in this field of study, many marine biologists will probably laugh at you. The pay varies greatly and depends on your amount of experience and education. Most of the time, however, the job is considered more fun than a high-paying, but as they say—if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Many marine biologists are very passionate about what they do, so the benefits of their work greatly outweigh the pay.
- Many positions in this field are very competitive. Because of that, an allotted amount of time is dedicated applying for grants to get funding for your work. But as mentioned before, the rewards are unrivaled. How will you be considered a competitive candidate? Get experience, and as much as you can. Get involved with volunteer work, internships, and travel to gain knowledge of the different marine ecosystems around the world. Many marine biologists will tell you: while schooling is very important and required for a career position, oftentimes it is the amount of experience you have outside of school that will land you the job. So get out there, learn, explore, and discover everything you can!
No matter what aspect of marine biology interests you, one of the most important factors that all marine biologists strive towards is conservation. Humans are the oceans’ worst enemy and their only hope. It is our responsibility to save what we are destroying with pollution and depleting with fishing and harvesting. If the oceans cannot thrive, neither will we. Become a marine biologist to help make a difference in our world, on both land and sea.