Marine Microbiologist

Dive deep for data on ocean microorganisms.
picture of Marine Microbiologist

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$39,000 – $116,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Marine Microbiologists do?

The ocean is big. Really, really big! In fact, it takes up over 70 percent of the Earth. Yet, it is full to the brim with billions of the smallest organisms, so small that you can’t see them with the naked eye.This is your realm if you’re a Marine Microbiologist. The microorganisms you study are the building blocks that make a bucket of water the most brilliant and unique ecosystem on Earth.

While the labs back on shore always need help from you, the Marine Microbiologist, in organizing samples and labeling slides, it’d be better if you had enough sea legs to take to a boat and get a firsthand look at the diverse microbes of the ocean. The little critters that you’re interested in are the bacteria, algae, and protozoa that thrive in salt water. There’s no end to what Marine Microbiologists can learn from examining how they reproduce, evolve, and interact with their ecosystem.

Environmental control companies might send you out to monitor microbes in the water near an oil spill, or a polluted bay to analyze the state of health of a body of water. The government might have you study the coastal algae to see if it explains a mass fish death. Like a regular Sherlock Holmes, you could deduce the state of an entire ecosystem through the clues its microbes offer, even if you might need something a bit more powerful than a magnifying glass to do it.

You’re allowed to get your hands on all sorts of fun technology. You handle strong light microscopes and, occasionally, the mighty electron microscope, all hooked up to a powerful computer system. Your tricked-out lab is enough to get any biology fan drooling. From boat trips to remote oceanic locations, to the top-of-the-line equipment in your hands, this isn’t anything like your old high school biology class.


Should I be a Marine Microbiologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • How to become a Marine Microbiologist

    Marine Microbiologists often have a Doctorate. Start by getting your Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aag9g9&chl=||associate%27s+%285%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2845%25%29|master%27s+%285%25%29|doctorate+%2845%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,45
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