Marine Biology can lead to many different fulfilling careers. Where will it take you?
You might follow one of the common career paths suggested below, or you might find a unique way to apply your skills, knowledge and experience. The same skills gained through learning Marine Biology also match up with the job skills that employers want:
How to collect and analyze scientific data
How to work effectively in teams to solve problems
How to communicate and share your work and research with a variety of audiences
Career Paths in Marine Biology
I study Marine Biology because I am most interested in…
…making new discoveries about life in the ocean
The learning never stops for many Marine Biologists: they continue learning till they are researching the cutting edge of knowledge in the field. Research is a team effort, so there are job opportunities at all levels: from introductory positions assisting with data collection to being faculty leading your own lab at a research university like the UW.
Sample job titles: Professor, Fish Biologist, Research Tech, Lab Coordinator, Field Scientist Related majors/minors: Biology, Oceanography, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences Recommendations: The long term career goal of most with this interest will be to direct and manage your own research. In marine sciences, this requires continuing your education in a graduate program. Advanced opportunities in undergraduate research such as the research apprenticeships at Friday Harbor Labs will help build your research experience before applying to grad school. Graduate School: Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, Biology, or Oceanography
…helping solve the world’s most pressing environmental problems
Whether the issue is climate change, the world food supply, renewable energy, or pollution, our oceans are a big part of current environmental issues. Marine Biologists help address what humans put in or take out of the marine environment through effective conservation. They are needed in a variety of jobs to track populations of marine species, to predict and measure the impact of human activities through fishing, and development.
Sample job titles: Groundfish Observer, Aquatic Land Manager, Environmental Planner, Environmental Consultant Related majors/minors: Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, Environmental Studies, Quantitative Science Minor Recommendations: Using math and statistics to model populations is a critical tool in conservation, so consider a minor in Quantitative Science. Explore courses and programs in social sciences to understand environmental laws, policies, and economics. Graduate School: MS or PhD, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, Master of Marine Affairs, Master of Public Administration, Juris Doctor (law)
…sharing my love of marine biology by teaching others
People of all ages love the marine environment, and they want to learn about it through aquariums, marine science centers and marine science summer programs for students of all ages. That’s where you come in: the ‘education’ career path requires that you match your deep scientific knowledge with an ability to creatively communicate to many different audiences.
Sample job titles: Aquarist, Education specialist, Outreach and education director, Marine science programs coordinator Related majors/minors: Environmental Studies, Early Childhood & Family Studies, Education, Learning & Society Minor, Recommendations: There is no substitute for time in the classroom, and you can start volunteering as a UW undergraduate through the UW Pipeline Project and Project COOL Graduate School: Master of Education, Master of Teaching
…treating illness and disease in people or animals
Marine Biology is a field of biology, and studying this field can be effective preparation for students wishing to pursue careers in health sciences. Some Marine Biologists wish to work with the care of animals through Veterinary Medicine, while others go on to work with human health. Some Marine Biologists research the potential biomedical applications of marine resources: our understanding of how
Sample job titles: Veterinarian, Medical Doctor (MD), Biomedical Researcher Related majors/minors: Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry Recommendations: While medical or veterinary medicine programs accept applicants with any undergraduate degree, you will still have to make sure you meet the minimum coursework requirements. For Marine Biology students, this means taking additional coursework in organic chemistry, biochemistry, and genetics. Undergraduate Advising at the UW manages excellent advising and resources for pre-health sciences students from any major. Graduate School: Medical Doctor, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
…combining my interest with another field
You might be surprised at the breadth of jobs available to people with an interest in Marine Biology: engineers work with the technology designed to explore the marine environment and psychologists can work with animal behavior. Some students go on to work directly with the cultivation and harvesting of aquatic resources for food by being aquaculturists.
Sample job titles: Ocean Engineer, Aquaculturist Related majors/minors: Oceanography, Computer Science and Engineering, Engineering, Psychology Recommendations: Consider the benefit of combining a major with a minor, even in very different fields. Engineering students might engage enough with the field through a marine biology minor to help them consider job opportunities in ocean engineering.