Jobs for Marine Biology Majors

Many people dream of pursuing a career in marine biology, but those outside the field often do not realize how far ranging jobs for marine biology majors really are. When you look through the want ads, chances are you will not see many ads with a marine biologist job title. But if you look closer, you may see many job openings that could be filled by marine biology graduates.

Here is a marine biology careers list of potential opportunities.

marine biology careers list

A marine biologist studies coral reefs off the coast of Hawaii. photo by Lindsy_Kramer, Flickr


Many people who hold degrees in biology, zoology and other life sciences go on to careers as biologists. Biologists work in a number of settings, including in the field and aboard research vessels.

Biologists also work in aquaria and zoos, as well as at museums where marine life is a big part of the programs they offer. Biologists who work in these settings often interact with the public as well as their peers, sharing the world of marine biology with those eager to learn more about the oceans and their inhabitants.

Lab Technician

Lab technicians also work in a number of settings, including both government and commercial labs. A lab technician might be employed by a government agency to test live fish and processed seafood for toxins and environmental contaminants, or by a private lab to make sure the products produced by their clients are safe.

Marine Biology Research Jobs

Researchers generally work in academia, helping colleges and universities grow and advance. Most people employed in this capacity will have Masters Degrees, and many will hold Ph.D. credentials as well. Many of those who train in the marine biology field go on to get these advanced degrees, becoming researchers who in turn lead future students to their own careers.


Those who hold degrees in marine biology, zoology and related fields often go on to become teachers, often teaching biology to grade school, middle school and high school students. Many school districts around the country are actively recruiting for teachers with a strong science background, and those jobs can be a good fit for qualified marine biology graduates.

Beluga whale - National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium - 43

Beluga photo by Comprock, Flickr

Marine Zoologist

Marine zoologists often work at zoos, marine parks and aquaria. It is the job of these professionals to keep a close watch on the animals and help make sure they are healthy. Marine zoologists may also be called upon to do research that helps their employers develop better ways of growing their collections and caring for the marine life they currently have on display. Those marine zoologists may also help to educate the public by giving lectures and talks to visitors.


Consultants are employed in a variety of industries, and they perform a wide range of functions. Consulting firms often hire these individuals to solve a particular problem, like helping a commercial fishery grow larger and healthier fish or helping a large company reduce the amount of runoff they produce. Marine biology graduates may be asked to use their expertise to help both private industry and government agencies improve their processes and practices.

Fisheries Manager

The commercial fishery industry is big business, and that business is expected to grow in the future as more people look for sustainable ways to enjoy the bounty of the ocean. These fisheries need to have experienced biologists on their staffs – people who can help them find new and better ways to grow fish from tiny fry to table-ready fillets. Fishery managers help their employers work more efficiently while making sure their processes are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Law Enforcement

Many marine biology students do not realize that there could be a place for them in the law enforcement arena. The management of the world’s oceans does include a strong law enforcement component, and there are marine biology graduates working with government agencies like the EPA to enforce existing laws and watch for possible violations. Those workers keep a close eye on fishing vessels to make sure they comply with catch limits, detect toxic runoff that could damage local streams and cite violators who run afoul of environmental laws.

What Kind of Starting Salary Can You Expect for Jobs for Marine Biology Majors?

Salary questions are not always easy to answer, and this is especially true in a highly competitive field like marine biology. As in most fields, the amount of schooling you have and the level of experience you can bring to an employer will have a large impact on the type of salary you can expect.

Depending on the level of competition and the needs in your area, the starting salary for a biologist could be as low as $25,000 or even a bit less, but on average the job pays around $31,000 a year. Many biologists, however, go on to get their Ph.D.s, and this can boost their earning power significantly. Many Ph.D.s in marine biology, for instance, go on to careers as college professors, where they can earn $40,000 to $50,000 a year to start and more down the line. Supervisor research positions for government, consulting firms, and colleges can pay well of $100,000 for those with a Ph.D.


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