Marine Ecologist

Study ocean environments to see how they can be better protected.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$34,000 – $117,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Marine Ecologists do?

If “Free Willy” (or any of the three sequels it spawned) tugged at your heartstrings, and the idea of beached whales makes you want to cry, then a job as a Marine Ecologist might be right up your alley. Marine Ecologists study ocean animals, and the way they interact with their environment and other creatures.

The field of ecology is all about how the actions of one animal can have a drastic reaction on another. As a Marine Ecologist, you run tests and collect data to understand how an animal’s environment can change anything from how it mates to how it hunts for food.

The most obvious example of this type of interaction is the interaction between people and animals of the sea. Our quest for food (fishing) has severely depleted populations of fish and destroyed environments. There are less obvious examples too, and you might spend your days studying, for instance, how sea turtle migration affects the eating and breeding habits of nurse sharks.

The point is there’s a lot you can study. You spend your days collecting and analyzing data, forming hypotheses, and then writing reports on what you find to be true. The information you gather can be used to create protective government policies, or educate people on ways they can protect the environment.

You can work as a Teacher at a school, an Environmental Consultant, or a researcher for an environmental group. No matter what you end up doing, be prepared to spend about half your time by, on, or under the ocean.

Should I be a Marine Ecologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.

  • Also known as: Enologist

    How to become a Marine Ecologist

    Most Marine Ecologists have a Doctorate. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aaadz9&chl=|||bachelor%27s+%2825%25%29|master%27s+%2822%25%29|doctorate+%2853%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,53
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