How Much Does A Marine Biologist Make? (With Skills And FAQs)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 14 March 2023

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Marine biologists are scientists who play a vital role in helping us understand the oceanic ecosystem and wildlife. They are usually experts in one field of marine biology and help record, analyse, track and study different marine species by conducting specialised research. Knowing about their average salary, responsibilities and work environment can help you determine if you want to pursue this profession. In this article, we discuss the answer to "How much does a marine biologist make?", find out how to become one and answer some frequently asked questions about the profession.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

How Much Does A Marine Biologist Make?

To find the answer to, "How much does a marine biologist make?" it is helpful to look at their average salary can be helpful. The national average salary of marine biologists is ₹57,673 per month. This salary can depend on your skills, location, employer, expertise and previous experience. It also depends on whether you work for non-profit organisations, research projects, government agencies or private companies. Professionals who have completed higher education, like a master's degree or a PhD, may get better-paying opportunities. Similarly, the area of specialisation can also influence how much you earn.

What Does A Marine Biologist Do?

Marine biologists study and examine aquatic life forms to better understand the oceanic ecosystem. They are usually a part of research projects to track, research or preserve specific marine organisms and creatures. Marine biologists typically spend a lot of time collecting samples, recording data, designing research experiments, conducting tests in the laboratory and writing reports. They usually specialise in subjects like coral reef biology, biosystematics, marine mammalogy, psychology, aquaculture, and ichthyology.

Depending on their role and organisation, the exact role of a marine biologist can vary. Here are some of their responsibilities:

  • Examining the impact of human activities on the ocean ecosystem and wildlife

  • Studying marine organisms and understanding their habits and life cycles

  • Mapping migration patterns of oceanic animals

  • Collecting data, visual and physical evidence from the sea

  • Designing experiments to assess the impact of climate change and human interference on specific species and their ecosystems

  • Conducting tests and assessments to check for chemical and biological abnormalities

  • Performing audits and environmental impact assessments of projects in coastal regions

  • Giving advice to governments and businesses on how to develop coastal areas

  • Leading expeditions for the discovery and exploration of new species

  • Helping local communities preserve marine life

  • Working with government and non-governmental organisations to increase public awareness about marine conservation

Related: What Is An Oceanographer? (Definition, Duties And Skills)

How To Become A Marine Biologist?

Follow these steps to become a marine biologist:

1. Identify your interest and career objective

Becoming a marine biologist requires advanced education, training, knowledge and above all, a genuine passion for the oceanic world. It is important that you understand your motivation and interests before starting on this career path. Compared to other professions, marine biology may offer limited employment opportunities in places like government organisations, research facilities and aquariums.

Once you are confident that this is the best career part for you, introspect and find out whether you want to work in a specific setting, like a museum or NGO, or with specific water creatures, like dolphins or seals. This can help decide your career path and also help you choose your specialisation. For instance, if you want to work in marine research projects, you may require different skills than a career in building public awareness as a marine biologist.

Related: Utilise Your Aptitude To Find The Right Career

2. Complete your education

A bachelor's degree in marine biology is usually necessary to secure an entry-level job in this field. To get admission to a reputable college, having subjects like biology, chemistry and physics in 10+2, alongside scoring high marks, is important. When pursuing your bachelor's degree, pursue relevant internships and workshops to gain practical experience. You can also consider learning an additional language through diploma courses as your job may require you to travel and stay in other countries for extended periods for research purposes.

3. Get professional experience

Once you have the basic knowledge and skills, get professional experience by working in entry-level positions at research institutes, government agencies and museums. You can also consider pursuing additional certifications to enhance your skills, like how to handle certain specialised equipment or understanding experiments to preserve specific marine species. This experience and knowledge can help you decide which area of specialisation you want to pursue further in your career. You can also contribute to research papers, publications, journals and other academic material during this time.

Related: How To Become A Marine Engineer (With Essential Skills)

4. Increase your knowledge and find a specialisation

There are several areas of specialisation in marine biology like aquatics biologists, fishery experts, ocean engineers, aquaculturists and marine veterinarians. You can pursue a master's degree or even do a PhD if you are interested in conducting research. As you identify your area of interest, you can propose projects or apply for grants to conduct research with your employer or relevant government agencies. You can also consider joining academia and becoming a professor by clearing the necessary tests and assessments.

Most marine biologists focus on the wildlife of certain locations or ecosystems or commit to finding specific solutions. By developing your professional relationships and networks, you can also learn of relevant and interesting research projects, conservation efforts and government programmes.

Related: What Are Careers On The Sea? (With Definition and Examples)

Essential Skills For Marine Biologists

Here are some important skills that can help you succeed as a marine biologist:

Observational skills

Marine biologists primarily study and observe marine wildlife and creatures. They require strong observational skills and the ability to pay attention to minute details, changes and characteristics. These skills can also be helpful when they are preparing reports, making records or storing specimens. This is particularly true for marine biologists who specialise in studying and researching marine microbes.

Related: How To Improve Observation Skills: A Comprehensive Guide

Analytical skills

A big part of a marine biologist's role is to propose hypotheses, design research methodologies, conduct experiments and infer conclusions. The ability to analyse results and think critically is essential for marine biologists to solve problems and understand the cause and effect on the macro and micro levels. They also require strong analytical skills while collaborating with multi-disciplinary experts and teams during research projects.

Related: Analytical Skills: Definition, Tips And Examples

Communication skills

The ability to communicate, both written and verbal, is crucial for marine biologists. As they usually work in a team, they require strong communication and interpersonal skills to achieve results collectively. They may also require to present papers, give presentations or submit reports to their colleagues and other experts. Marine biologists who work with NGOs and non-profit organisations also require effective communication skills to interact with people and raise awareness.

Physical and mental endurance

Being a marine biologist can be a demanding job. In addition to conducting on-site research, travelling and operating heavy-duty equipment, marine biologists may require to spend a lot of time outdoors to make observations or collect data and specimens. These research experiments may occur in isolated areas or even in challenging conditions. This requires not just physical stamina but also mental and emotional strength. It is also possible that a lot of effort and work word may not result in any significant outcome, which also requires being strong, patient, disciplined and resilient.

Related: How Do You Handle Stress And Pressure? (With Tips To Answer)

FAQs About Marine Biologists

These are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about how much a marine biologist makes and how to become one:

Do marine biologists require any special certifications or licenses?

While no specific certifications are mandatory to become a marine biologist and educational qualifications are usually adequate, some employers may require candidates to be able to swim or have prior diving experience. You can consider getting the required certification or training to fulfil this condition. Some private organisations may also provide this training to new employees and fresh graduates.

Related: Indian Coast Guard Eligibility Criteria (Plus Duties)

What is the work environment of a marine biologist?

Depending on your exact role and place of employment, you may spend a big part of your day on-site or in the laboratory. Marine biologists who work in aquariums or sanctuaries may have an entirely different set of duties, which may require them to follow strict schedules and may not have as many research activities. Overall, the job needs stamina, as you may require to stand for extended hours, be physically active and endure rough oceanic conditions while collecting data.

What is the scope of marine biology?

Considering the increasing impact of climate change and pollution on the oceans and marine wildlife, the role of marine biology in understanding and addressing these challenges is important. As governments and private entities prioritise sustainable development and the adoption of green technology, marine biologists can help understand its impact on the ocean and marine life. Global organisations have voiced demands to increase research and investment into marine biology and oceanology, and one can expect this to grow in the future.

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