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Is It Hard to Find a Job as a Marine Biologist?

by Sara Mahuron, studioD

Finding a job as a marine biologist really depends more on you, than on the job market. Your marketability will be the main factor in determining whether or not you will find a job. Spend time making certain that you are well-prepared for this career and you likely will spend less time looking for a job.

Job Outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the growth rate for all zoologists and wildlife biologists to be 7 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is slower than average. According to the DISCOVER career information system, marine biologist jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 1.3 percent per year. These statistics do not take into account degree or experience level. Some marine biologists should expect to have a better outlook than others -- such as those with master's or Ph.D. degrees or impressive experience.

Program Placement Rates

Bemidji State University reports that 80 percent of its 2009-2010 aquatic biology graduates had found jobs in their field within one year. The University of North Carolina Wilmington boasts a 92.4 percent combined graduate school and job placement rate for its master's program in marine biology. Steven Webster, Ph.D. and senior marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, tells students that those who engage in strong academic work with a well-known professor are likely to find employment in their field.

Prospective Employers

According to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, major employers of marine biologists include colleges and universities, research firms and drug manufacturers. Research positions expect the greatest competition. The University of New Haven reports that its marine biologist graduates generally find employment at schools, environmental agencies and aquariums. The Marine Science Institute at the University of Texas at Austin cites international organizations, the government, private consulting firms, nonprofit laboratories as possible employers.

Related Careers

Students graduating from the University of New Haven's marine biology program are equipped with practical knowledge for the workplace. They are trained on sampling, analysis and geographical information systems. Marine biologists may find jobs as a researcher, professor, natural resource manager, aquaculturist, aquarium employee or fisheries biologist. The majority of employees at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center have the title of fishery biologist. Successful marine biologists generally have earned a master's degree, although it can be in a related field such as biology, oceanography or zoology.

About the Author

Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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