Studying years into the marine, I know how it all begins. You love being in the ocean. And, so you think of turning your downright curiosity about marine life into a career. Fair enough!
It is absolutely okay to look for a career opportunity that includes working with marine life. However, you gotta spend years of dedication in being a student, trainee and a professional. There is a long way to go and it starts from the school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not demoralizing you.
Rather, being a mariner myself, let me tell you that marine biology isn’t the only path here. To nourish your craving for the ocean, it may not be the best way to go about.
Marine conservation, marine veterinary, advocacy, dive industry, policymaking, engineering, filmmaking and all the alternatives are there. So you can check them for yourself.
Trust me, any of these alternatives can be cooler than you think.
But if you are already aware of the challenges in the profession and are truly interested in the aquatic environment and its dwellers, welcome to the cruise.
Okay, So Let's known that
How to Become a Marine Biologist?
Face it, marine biology isn’t defined to “Wow, you research dolphins”. People have no idea what really goes into the job. Marine biology is a tree with many branches. It combines the study of marine creatures in detail; like their interactions with the environment and how they behave. So you will have an array of possible job directions to think of your life decision.
Think yourself, what fascinates you the most and what you are passionate about the sea. You do not wanna be a hobbyist in this realm. Be precise and choose wisely. And consequently, something feasible in the ever-changing and perplexing job market.
Whether you step into being an aquarist, system analyst, microbiologist, behavioral ecologist, or a university professor – make sure you are responsive to the lab or field works. Because the first choice may switch to your actual career, but not necessarily be the finest road to hit.
Below here i add a short video that helps you know more about Marine Biologist.
To become a marine biologist, you have to complete a bachelor’s degree. Depending on your state’s universities it may take 3-4 years. But the key to getting enrolled for a bachelor’s degree starts right from your school. You don’t have to necessarily study in a marine-specific school though. A solid background in basic science including biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics will do.In case, your university does not allow majors in marine biology, you can major in environmental biology or zoology. Nonetheless, you should also have the following capabilities.
- Problem-solving and analytical ability
- Great written communication skills
- Proficiency in statistical analysis
- Flexibility working in a team
March Ahead with a Master’s Degree
Completing your bachelor’s in Marine Biology or relevant majors, you just stepped into a biologist’s shoes. And, to avail job exposures, you need a master’s degree in marine biology or sciences. It can be from any university that excels in marine biology or science.
For example, if you live in the United States, there are some specialized institutes below:
- Duke University
- Brown University
- The University of California-Los Angeles
- The University of Southern California
It doesn’t mean that you won’t get hired without a master’s, but most organizations tend to consider it as a minimum requirement.
Mind having a Ph.D.?
Get informed that, it’s not obligatory to achieve a doctorate. But if you want to dig deeper in marine biology with your own scholarly researches, this will help.
You can have your own students joining a University as a professor. Plus, there will be plenty of job openings for you, if you get a Ph.D.
Build Practical, Real-life Experiences
Apart from officially being a marine biologist on papers, you need some bells and whistles under the belt. This starts from the very basic applications of your academic knowledge. You have to be all alert in search of learning new things. Relevant courses (for example, GIS classes) can help in this regard as well.
Visiting marine museums, clubs, and forums while undergrad can be beneficial.
Even if you don’t need a job, it is better to develop your experience as earlier as you can. This will make sense of all the bookish studies to you. So, you will have better understanding and know-how on real occasions.
Spending a portion of your time in the ocean is another productive practice. You may find other people working with aquatic creatures and habitats. This is how you get the privilege to consult with professionals.
Achieve a Skill Set
Academic courses most often have scuba diving, boat handling, first aid, rigging etc. included into their curriculum. These make an important set of skills to have. If your educational institute didn’t provide you with any of these, take measures to pursue them separately.
Just like your swimming skill, you can’t afford to ignore these knacks being a marine biologist.
Search for local marine organizations for volunteer openings nearby. They might allow you a chance to work with their professional. This is an excellent trick to know how work in the real field goes while having your undergraduate degree.
Pro Tip: I personally love to have a mentor in every vast topic I’m in. This saves your ass for a lifetime. Reach out to experts in your subject and ask if they wouldn’t mind mentoring you. For this, you will have to visit faculties and research groups and offer assistance for free. If your dedication and thirst make a good impression, you are likely to have a good mentorship.
Another way of learning new skills is taking internships. It best suits during your college (even after college is good), if you are damn serious. Needless to say, internship nourishes you with skills and expertise to get ready for a job.
You will have multiple results on the internet if you search for internships at schools. Simply submit the applications to join as an intern. Popular schools offer paid internships, so you might get lucky too.
Probably, You are Ready for the Job
At this stage of your life, you may perhaps think of getting into a job. Now, here comes a pack of advices. After all, I have been there once too.
First and foremost, never forget your friends or people you have studied with. Rather, try meeting new peoples of the industry and develop your network. If you keep regular contact with them, chances are high, you will be notified about job vacancies.
Then, always maintain a respectful relationship with your professors. Remember the people you worked as an intern with? Talk to them.
Your former professors, mentor or employers might be directly(or indirectly) associated with recruitments in the industry. In case they are too busy to plot you a job, maybe they will connect you to the right person. Most important of all, you have to look for jobs filtering out with your experience. The truth is, finding a job in marine biology is prone to be challenging.
There are different organizations that offer different types of jobs in unique fields. So, you have to be as specific as you can to find the job you can apply to. Count the skills and hands-on experiences you have acquired until today. Hopefully, you will discover some openings.
And, keep attending workshops on marine biology around you. This will keep you up and running in many terms.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Marine Biologist?
It depends. If you start counting from your school days, then it’s more than a decade. So there’s no straightaway answer to this.
Typically, a bachelor’s degree is compulsory to be a marine biologist, as I have mentioned earlier on top of this article. This takes about three to four years of time, with honours. To work as a more applied scientist, or Marine biologists who plan to attract higher paying consultation jobs, will add two or three extra years for a master’s degree.
For getting into research and teaching professions, a Ph.D. is must since autonomous research and teaching positions are at the postsecondary level. A doctoral program may incorporate fisheries science, algae study or marine microbiology as additional topics.
Usually, a Ph.D. takes three to four years, but it can be up to 6 years or more depending on the candidate’s contribution and performance.
Speaking of a shortcut; you can skip your master’s in between your undergraduate degree to Ph.D. This happens only in New Zealand and Australia. Students can jump straight to the Ph.D after completing the honours. However, having a master’s degree will add extra benefits.
Wrapping up, marine biologists are scientists. It includes hours of work in the lab and fields. You will get accustomed to spending nights in deep-drenched workloads. Analytics and calculations, arguments and discussions, writing and rewriting – these will be all you care about. Might sound hard, it really is.
But if you are really passionate about it, there’s no one stopping you. Because peace of mind comes from working where you love to be.
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