Ocean wave with cloudy skiesPhoto by Silas Baisch on Unsplash

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. - Jacques Cousteau

Do you have a passion for the ocean?

Did you love to be at the beach as a child?

Did you love visiting the aquarium and become mesmerized as the fish, sharks and turtles swam by?

Do you plan weekends or vacations to be by the water?

These are great signs that a career in marine biology might be for you!

Girl running toward the ocean


Most start by earning an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from an accredited college or university.

You'll probably take classes in:

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Mathematics

  • Physiology

  • Oceanography

  • Marine Biology (of course!)

You'll also participate in hands-on laboratory classes and/or field research opportunities.

Students in classPhoto by javier trueba on Unsplash

Decide Your Path

Knowing what interests you will help you decide what kind of marine biologist you want to become.

Two scuba divers near a reefPhoto by Aviv Perets on Unsplash

Do you want to be ON the ocean or IN the ocean?

Underwater submersivePhoto by Michal Mrozek on Unsplash

Do you want to work in a LAB or in the FIELD in a submersible?

Penguin by the waterPhoto by Noah Holm on Unsplash

Do you want to work in the POLES where it's colder or in the TROPICS where it is hotter?

Person holding underwater technology toolPhoto by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Do you want to search for NEW species or DESIGN new technology tools that collect data?


Here's how Rachel Butler, who produces documentaries about marine biology for the BBC, got started in the field.

How Much Can I Earn?

Salary depends on your education, location, and experience.

Flaticon IconUnited States

Average Salary = $52,313/year (US)

Salary Range = $33,000 - $99,000

Flaticon IconCanada

Average Salary = $51,933/year (CAD)

Salary Range = $41,000 - $98,000

Day In The Life

A man pointing to a whale coming to the water surface.

Might like being a marine biologist if...

  • You love the water — being in it, near it, or on it.

  • You get excited collecting samples in the field, analyzing them in the lab, or working with animals.

  • You enjoy traveling and learning more about research being done in your field.

Might not like being a marine biologist if...

  • You don't enjoy doing research & sometimes working long days.

  • You don't like to sit for long periods waiting for animals to show.

  • You don't like being far away from home, or living on a boat when conducting research.


Marine biologists actually spend a lot of their time doing what?

Scuba diving

Swimming with dolphins

Sitting on the beach

Sitting in front of their laptop

Take Action

Want to learn more?

Dolphins jumping out of the water

And don't forget your sunscreen!


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This Byte has been authored by


Jasmine Thomas

Instructional Designer and Learning Specialist