What Does a Marine Biologist Do?
A marine biologist is a scientist who studies the biology of marine organisms and their interactions with the environment. The field has many specialty areas, including oceanography, marine ecology, marine conservation, and marine biotechnology. Among the organisms these scientists study are fish, whales, sharks, sea turtles, and plankton
Marine biologists often collect data on organisms and their habitats in the field. They also study ocean currents, water chemistry, and climate change effects on marine ecosystems. Much of the work also takes place in a laboratory – analyzing data and conducting experiments to understand marine life better.
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National Average Salary
Marine biologist salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Marine Biologist is:
Marine Biologist Qualifications to Look For
- Conducted field studies in marine environments to collect samples and observe marine life in their natural habitats
- Analyzed samples in the laboratory using various scientific techniques and equipment
- Monitored the health and populations of marine organisms and ecosystems
- Studied the behavior, physiology, and genetics of marine species
- Assisted in the development and implementation of conservation and restoration projects
- Published research findings in scientific journals and presented at conferences
- Worked collaboratively with other scientists, researchers, and organizations in multidisciplinary projects
- Engaged in environmental impact assessments for industries affecting marine ecosystems
- Educated the public and policymakers about marine conservation and the importance of preserving marine biodiversity
- Utilized technology such as remote sensing, GIS, and underwater vehicles to study and explore marine environments
- Excellent observational and problem-solving skills
- Strong communication and presentation skills
- Patience and perseverance
- Strong analytical skills
- Ability to work independently and in teams
- Passion for the marine environment and its organisms
- Resilience and adaptability to challenging field conditions
- Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, Biology, or a related field
- Master’s degree or Ph.D. in Marine Biology or a related field for advanced research positions or specialized roles
- Field-specific courses or certifications, such as SCUBA diving certifications, might be necessary for certain research roles
- Participation in marine research projects, internships, or fellowships during academic training is often highly regarded
Marine Biologist Job Descriptions
Crafting the perfect marine biologist job description is the first step in making an exceptional new hire. To help you with your search, our team has put together some examples from past openings.
Mid-level Marine Biologist
ABC Company, a leading engineering firm with a global presence and a thriving coastal engineering practice, is pleased to announce an immediate opening in our (city, state) office for a mid-level marine miologist. Our marine biologists coordinate early in the project design process to develop environmentally sound projects that meet our clients’ needs for coastal protection. Scientifically based habitat resource characterization and monitoring programs, developed in conjunction with the regulatory agencies, provide the basis for verifiable and well-founded project assessments. ABC Company’s marine biologists are all professional scientific divers and undergo extensive training in data collection methods as well as various analytical techniques designed to allow our clients to obtain permits and satisfy permit conditions required by the regulatory agencies. The candidate will have the opportunity to work on a variety of biological monitoring projects which include characterizing hardbottom, seagrass, and wetland habitats. The candidate will perform tasks under the direction of a senior marine biologist through all phases of projects including the initial planning and design, monitoring, data analysis, and report development. This is a full-time position.
Key responsibilities and accountabilities
- Conduct biological monitoring field work with a focus on hardbottom and seagrass habitats.
- Comfortably conduct SCUBA diving and snorkeling field work operations from a mid-side (<30′) boat.
- Organize and analyze biological data to prepare clear and concise biological reports and technical documentation.
- Ability to work in challenging outdoor conditions.
- Ability to perform a typical field day of 10-12 hours.
- Local travel during the day and domestic travel including overnight stays will be required.
- Work collaboratively in a team-based environment.
- Prioritize and accomplish multiple assignments efficiently and effectively with limited supervision.
- Other work activities include assisting in field planning, safety document preparation, and other entry level duties.
- Master’s Degree in marine biology or related scientific field (or degree in progress), or equivalent work experience.
- SCUBA certification required, preferably advanced or rescue level. Preferably a member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS).
- CPR/First Aid/O2 certification required.
- Boat experience required.
- 2-3 years relevant field experience.
- Experience in identifying south Florida benthic reef species (e.g. corals, sponges, algae) and seagrass species.
- An ability to provide field support including: hardbottom benthic characterization surveys, hardbottom mapping, seagrass surveys, dune vegetation surveys and wetland surveys.
- Protected Species Observer (PSO) certification preferred, not required.
- State and Federal permitting experience preferred, not required.
- Possess strong technical and analytical skills; knowledge of statistical applications is preferred.
- Proficient in the Microsoft Office suite.
- Possess strong interpersonal skills.
- Self-motivated, hard-worker capable of working both independently and in a team setting.
- Have a passion for working in a consulting firm environment on coastal projects.
- Ability to lift 40 pounds and ability to pass pre-employment physical and drug screen.
- Ability to fluently communicate in spoken and written English.
- Ability to legally work in the United States for an indefinite period of time.
- Valid Driver’s license.
- ABC Company strongly recommends, but does not require, that its employees receive vaccination against COVID-19. We do require employees to provide information about their vaccination status, whether vaccinated or not.
Senior Marine Biologist
ABC Company’s marine portfolio continues to grow, with exciting projects, including habitat offsetting, and climate change adaptation. This full-time position presents a tremendous opportunity for an experienced and energetic individual to play a key role in the ongoing development of our team.
We are a progressive and growing owner-operated consultancy focused on providing the highest quality environmental services to our clients at the cutting edge of science. We place great emphasis on fostering a team environment, applying scientific rigor and integrity, innovation, and Indigenous and community engagement. You will be part of a strong team of marine scientists, who are passionate about delivering for our clients and protecting the marine environment.
The successful candidate will have a deep knowledge and understanding of fish and fish habitat of the BC coast, and related federal and provincial legislation. Consulting, regulatory and/or research-based experience are all considered beneficial.
The role will involve study design and planning, report delivery, advising clients on regulatory requirements, environmental risks, and opportunities, in relation to coastal and marine projects. It will allow flexibility for you to develop your career in a direction that you want while further developing the team. The successful candidate will support business development activities and provide mentoring of junior and intermediate scientists. The role will be fully supported by ABC Company’s Associate Partner of Marine Resources, the wider management and partner group, and the many experienced environmental and social professionals.
- Plan and manage surveys and monitoring of the marine environment, with a focus on marine fish and fish habitat.
- Manage and/or prepare scientific study reports, including data analysis and interpretation.
- Lead and provide marine discipline input to Environmental Impact Assessment and permit applications, including determining environmental effects on marine ecology and resources.
- Provide advice on environmental mitigation measures and controls.
- Assist with marine habitat offsetting planning and design.
Education and experience
- Minimum of BSc in a marine biology-related discipline.
- Minimum of 8 years’ post-degree marine science experience.
- Registered Professional Biologist in BC or ability to obtain
- Excellent analytic and research skills (leveraging a sound knowledge of scientific literature).
- Sound working knowledge of the Fisheries Act, Disposal at Sea regulations, Canadian Navigable Waters Act, and other federal and provincial marine legislation.
- Demonstrated technical competency and knowledge of marine fish and fish habitat in BC.
- Demonstrated ability to apply a high standard of scientific rigor to projects and deliverables.
- Ability to work in a dynamic consulting environment that requires flexibility and collaboration.
- Research and analytical skills (data analysis and interpretation).
- Excellent communication (verbal and written – technical or scientific writing).
- Must be legally eligible to work in (country).
Protected Species Marine Biologist
ABC Company’s commitment to hiring the best talent in the industry and helping them thrive professionally is stronger than ever. We are seeking a qualified Protected Species Marine Biologist to support work based at our (city, state) office.
The successful candidate will be responsible for supporting our marine resources projects for a variety of commercial, federal, and state clients. A multidisciplinary science-based background is desired, with an emphasis on marine biology, marine policy, bioacoustics, or offshore protected resources. Marine Protected Species of concern include marine mammals, sea turtles, endangered/threatened fishes. Projects vary but are typically part of offshore wind projects and other marine infrastructure development.
- Serve as a marine protected species subject matter expert (SME) for impact assessment, permitting, and monitoring associated with offshore wind energy projects.
- Routine coordination with multiple project teams composed of; Project Managers, Team Leaders, Subcontractors, other SMEs, and Client Representatives.
- Perform desktop-based data analysis, impact assessment, and report writing.
- Integrate bioacoustics modeling results in applicable permit applications, reports, and other documentation.
- Maintain consistent compliance implementation of protected species monitoring programs.
- Participation in other field/desktop assessments in support of other environmental programs within the company.
- Minimum of B.S. degree in marine science (M.S. preferred).
- Preference for 1-3 years experience serving as a SME on impact assessment, permitting, NEPA, or marine protected species assessments.
- Familiarity with marine bioacoustics modeling principals and noise pollution impacts.
- Deep understanding of marine protected species resources, including policies and regulations associated with each.
- Familiarity with, and analysis of, publicly available datasets.
- Familiarity with methods used to monitor for marine protected species and design and implementation of marine surveys.
- Basic understanding of marine spatial planning, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offshore wind survey recommendations.
- Flexibility to accommodate travel and meet fast-paced project requirements.
- High level of motivation and an ability to work independently and as part of a team.
- Possess solid communication skills and demonstrated proficiency with MS Office Suite and ArcGIS (desired).
- Must be multi-task oriented and possess excellent problem-solving skills.
- A valid Driver’s License, clean driving record, and a dependable personal means of transportation are required.
- Employee is expected to maintain a professional manner in all aspects of their work.
Sample Interview Questions
- Can you describe your experience with field research in marine environments?
- What methods have you used in the collection and analysis of marine data?
- How familiar are you with marine conservation issues?
- Could you discuss when you used scientific software for data modeling or analysis in your research?
- What has been the most challenging marine environment you’ve worked in, and how did you manage the obstacles it presented?
- Describe your experience with remote sensing or GIS applications in marine biology.
- How have you incorporated climate change considerations into your past research or projects?
- Have you ever had a chance to influence policy or public understanding of marine biology?
- Can you explain a situation where you had to apply ethical considerations to your marine biology research or work?
- How do you ensure the accuracy and integrity of your scientific findings in research?
- Could you discuss a research project where your findings didn’t align with your initial hypothesis?
- Please describe a marine species you’ve studied that you find particularly fascinating, and why?
- Can you discuss your experience in presenting research findings to non-scientific audiences?
- What is the best way to balance marine ecosystem conservation with economic and social demands?
- Describe how you effectively convey scientific findings to a non-scientific audience, such as policymakers and the general public.
- As a marine biologist, what do you hope to accomplish and what impact do you hope to make?