The average marine biologist salary

Written by daniel r. mueller
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The average marine biologist salary
Marine biologists can either work in the field or in labs. (marine life image by pearlguy from

The Bureau of Labor Statistics no longer tracks marine biologists' earning statistics specifically, instead grouping their information under the heading of zoological and wildlife biologists, along with other biological scientists' statistics. As of May 2008, zoological and wildlife biologists earned an average of £35,938 annually. Team leads or marine biologists with extensive work experience in addition to their education are likely to command a higher than average wage.

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What Working as a Marine Biologist Entails

Marine biologists may spend equal amounts of time in the laboratory, performing tests and recording results, and out in the field, collecting samples and conducting field studies. They may also prefer to focus on one or the other and allow other members of the team to focus on their preferred area of expertise as well. Marine biologists working in the field can expect to occasionally work longer than a standard 40 hour work week, especially if their work is of a critical nature or deals with a rare or migratory species. This profession occasionally deals with dangerous chemicals in the laboratory.

Educational Background Required for Marine Biologists

Biological scientists of all types usually need a bachelor's or master's degree at the very least to be hired on at a relevant position. In order to be truly successful and enjoy good job security, aspiring marine biologists should consider earning a Ph.D. as well. A Ph.D. can allow a marine biologist to move up from an inspection or teaching position to a higher independent research or administrative position. Additional specialisation in a marine biologist's chosen species or ecosystem while earning his degree or after graduation can also help him advance and increase his job security. This can be achieved by taking subfield courses such as microbiology or botany.

Entry-Level and Best in Field Earnings as a Marine Biologist

The lowest earning 10 per cent of zoological and wildlife biologists earned less than £21,807 annually as of May 2008, and the highest earning 10 per cent earned more than £59,052 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entry-level marine biologists can be assumed to belong to the lowest earning statistic, especially if they hold a basic research position just after entering the job market. This position is in high demand and competition for it is fierce due to its relatively low requirements, so it generally pays less than other marine biologist positions.

Other Factors Affecting Salaries for Marine Biologists

Marine biologists with only a bachelor's or master's degree to their name typically have fewer options open to them. Often hotly contested basic research positions are all that are available. These applicants should consider earning a Ph.D. as well to improve their options. Marine biologists should also ensure that their chosen area of study match up with their location. Those who work in the field at least part of the time should either move to a coastal area or resign themselves to having to travel regularly to these regions. Lastly, although the field of biological science is constantly growing as new innovations are discovered and put into place, the subfield of marine biology is relatively small and highly competitive. Therefore, marine biologists already entrenched in the field should keep their education and skills as current as possible in order to maintain job security.

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