What is the Best Degree To Become a Marine Biologist?

Marine BiologistThe best degree to become a marine biologist is a bachelor’s degree in either marine biology, zoology, wildlife biology, or a related field. In addition to the bachelor’s degree, those who want to conduct research or advance to leadership positions in the field typically go on to earn either a master’s degree and/or a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, often specializing in a niche research area within the field. If you’re interested in becoming a marine biologist, read on to learn more about the best education pathway to this exciting career.

Educational Pathways

The first step to a marine biology career is to qualify for and enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in the field. While you can also attend a general biology program, your education will more specific relate to a future career in the field if you earn a marine biology degree. Marine Bio, a non-profit,¬†maintains a list of schools by state that have a bachelor’s program and/or a master’s or doctoral program in marine biology. In addition to your bachelor’s degree, earning valuable work and internship experience in the field as a student will make you more attractive to both employers and graduate programs.

Components of the Job

Marine biologists typically work in the field to conduct experiments and research that relates to the health and well-being of the ocean and its inhabitants. They may work with marine life in either lab or natural settings; collect data and specimens; analyze the effects of human behavior on this population; and analyze data and report on findings. Most marine biologists work for either state or federal governments; research and development companies; scientific consulting firms; or colleges and universities.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth in this field is expected to be about 5 percent over the next decade, slower than average for all professions. Because competition for jobs in marine biology will be fierce, the best plan of action is to excel in a marine biology bachelor’s program; make professional connections through internships, volunteer work, and other job opportunities; and earn a graduate degree in the field of marine biology. The median annual salary for those in this field is $57,710 per year. Because field work is a necessity of this job, long hours are a requirement for a marine biology career.

Related Resource: Zookeeper

To succeed in this field, you’ll need more than a degree. The best marine biologists have not only a passion for the work, skills in working in the outdoors, keen data analysis and computer skills, and a combination of compassion for animals and the ability to apply the scientific method to solve complex problems. In general, though, the best degree to become a marine biologist is a bachelor’s degree is specific to the field and offers a wealth of internship programs and professional connections.