What Is the Starting Salary for a Marine Biologist?

Updated April 17, 2017

Marine biologists are scientists that study plant and animal life in the ocean. The pay scale for a marine biologist rises significantly as they progress in their career. Entry level jobs have relatively low salaries, but marine biologists with decades of experience can achieve a six figure income.


The starting salary for a marine biologist with less than one year of experience is approximately £21,450, according to North Carolina's Bioscience Clearinghouse. However, marine biologists can earn anywhere from £13,000 to £78,000 annually. The majority of higher paying marine biology jobs are with private companies and government institutions. Lowering paying jobs are in academia and non-profit organisations. Marine biologists that have over 30 years of experience have a median salary of £66,950. The supply of marine biologists is much higher than the demand for marine biologists, which can make it difficult to get a job. In addition, the number of marine biologists employed by the federal government is decreasing.

Education Requirements

The minimum education requirement for becoming a marine biologist is to hold a bachelor's degree in marine biology. However, marine biologists that want career advancement should obtain a master's degree. Holding a master's degree is particularly important for individuals that want to conduct research at a college or university.


There are many different specialities in marine biology, such as marine biotechnology. One aspect of marine biotechnology involves extracting compounds from marine plants and animals and testing them as pharmaceutical drugs. Some marine biotechnologists develop non-coating chemicals for applications like preventing barnacles from building up inside the pipes used in nuclear power plants.

Another speciality within biotechnology is molecular biology. Marine biologists that focus on molecular biology commonly look at samples under microscopes to determine if an animal or body of water displays exposure to pollution. Another area that marine biologists help with is aquaculture, which is the farming of shellfish, seaweeds and finfish. Some marine biologists focus on environmental biology and toxicology and are commonly employed by environmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.


Many aspiring marine biologists dream of working with marine mammals such as dolphins and whales, but the truth is that these jobs are extremely rare because the field is highly regulated and extremely popular, according to In addition, the majority of research done on marine mammals involves looking at tissue samples from dead or sick animals. Another reason that getting a job with marine mammals is difficult is that funding for this area of marine biology is extremely scarce.

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About the Author

Carolyn Gray started writing in 2009. Her work history includes line and staff management in the Finance and Controller's Department of New York Telephone and NYNEX. Gray has a Bachelor of Arts in government from Clark University and a Master of Business Administration from New York University's Stern School of Business in Management and Organization Behavior.