There are many high-paying marine biology jobs for graduates with marine biology majors who are passionate about marine science and/or the marine environment.
Marine biologists study wildlife and ecosystems in the ocean and seas. During the course of their study, they may focus on related fields of study such as environmental science or biochemistry, which helps them get a deeper understanding of the marine environment and wildlife.
According to data sourced from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of Labor, there are a few high-paying marine biology jobs the graduates can pursue.
High paying marine biology jobs
In this article, we will explore the appropriate well-paying jobs you can consider as a marine biology graduate. As you will note, most of the jobs pay more than $60,000 a year on wages.
1. Marine biologist
A marine biologist is a scientist who studies the ecology of saltwater and marine ecosystems. They conduct research, collect samples, analyze data, and write reports of their findings.
Marine biologists use comparative studies, long-term data, and available models to address the questions regarding marine life, marine ecosystems, water chemistry, water movement, and the inflow and outflow of materials into and out of the ecosystem.
According to PayScale, the median annual salary for marine biologists in the U.S. is $52,167. The highest-paid marine biologists earn more than $97,000 a year.
2. Marine botanist
Botanists are biological scientists who study plants while marine botanists study plants that grow in the ocean or sea. Most marine botanists study saltwater plants with a small percentage focusing on freshwater plants such as algae.
Marine botanists can work in aquariums, academic institutions, or government agencies. Those employed as academics conduct research into aquatic plants and deliver lectures to students while the government employees conduct research, provide consultation services, and lead educational activities.
According to FederalPay, botanists earn an average annual salary of $85,081 with the top earners getting as high as $143,598 a year, making this one of the top high-paying marine jobs in the U.S.
Institutions that pay really well include the Smithsonian Institution which pays an annual average salary of $150,059 and the Natural Resources Conservation Service which pays $122,167 per year.
3. Marine microbiologist
Microbiologists are scientists who study microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, algae, and parasites seeking to understand how they grow, live, and interact with their environments.
Marine microbiologists focus their studies on microscopic organisms that live in oceans and seas. They use GPS, bathymetry, and shipboard laboratories to locate, sample, and study marine microbes living in different ocean habitats.
Working as a marine microbiologist is another high-paying job for marine biology graduates, with the U.S. BLS indicating their average annual salary to be $91,840. The highest-paid marine microbiologists earn more than $156,360 a year.
4. Marine resource economist
Marine resource economists conduct research and analysis related to marine resource management, green/blue economy, sustainable development, and energy & climate policies.
They use economic principles and statistical models & techniques to evaluate and quantify the costs, benefits, incentives, and impacts of alternative options.
The average annual salary for marine resource economists is $99,150 with the highest-paid 10% earning more than $175,000 a year.
5. Marine conservation officer
Marine conservation officers work to protect, manage, and enhance the marine environment, notably seas and oceans. Jobs titles marine conservation officers use include biodiversity officer, conservation assistant, and conservation technician.
The roles of conservation officers include:
- Educating everyone and raising awareness on environmental issues
- Promoting and implementing local and national biodiversity action plans
- Contributing to policy development for sustainable use and management of environmental resources
These are just a few of the work marine conservation officers partake in. The mean annual salary for nature conservation officers is $47,828 with the highest-paid earning more than $120,500 a year.
Oceanographers are scientists who study the ocean and seek to understand its complex relationship with our planet. They study the weather, sea life, ocean currents, and almost everything associated with the ocean.
Oceanographers study different aspects of the ocean, and as such can be classified into different categories based on their primary focus.
- Marine biologists: They study marine ecosystems and their inhabitants
- Physical oceanographers: Study the physical elements of the ocean, such as ocean movements including waves, currents, and tides.
- Chemical oceanographers: Study the chemical composition of the ocean & ocean water, ocean pollution, and may be involved in finding naturally-occurring resources on the seafloor.
- Geological oceanographers: Study the ocean’s floor and may also study volcanic activities that occur underseas and how they influence tectonic plate movements.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, oceanographers are classified under geoscientists and earn a mean annual salary of $112,110. The salary of the highest-paid oceanographers can rise as high as $201,000 a year, which also makes this one of the highest-paying marine biology jobs.
7. Biological scientist
Biological scientists study living organisms such as plants, animals, and microbes and examine their relationship with the environment.
With a marine biology degree, you can work as a marine biological scientist focusing purely on marine life. closely related fields you can work in include aquatic biology, ecology, and microbiology.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for biological scientists is $89,910. The highest-paid biological scientists earn more than $137,000 a year.
8. Biological technician
Biological technicians conduct scientific tests and experiments under the supervision of medical scientists or biologists, including microbiologists.
Biological technicians working in the marine field often work alongside marine microbiologists, marine biologists, biological scientists, and marine botanists.
They use different tools, including traditional lab instruments, advanced robotics, automated equipment, and specialized computer software.
The mean annual salary for biological technicians in the United States is $49,490 with the highest earners enjoying more than $74,600 a year in wages.
9. Academic researcher
A bachelor’s degree in marine biology also opens opportunities to work in academic and research institutions.
As an academic researcher, you will carry out high-level individual and collaborative research, analyze large data sets & draw out research-backed conclusions, partake in comprehensive literature reviews, and can also teach undergraduate and postgraduate students who major in marine biology.
Most academic researchers are employed in colleges and universities, but can also work in research institutes where they focus mainly on research.
The average annual salary for academic researchers in the U.S. is $64,103 with the top-paid researchers earning as high as $156,500 a year. This makes it one of the highest-paying jobs for marine biology graduates.
10. Higher education lecturer
This is one of the high-paying marine biology jobs and is ideal for graduates who prefer to work in academic institutions as lecturers and/or academic researchers.
You will need the necessary expertise in order to teach college/university students. The teaching methods you will use include lectures, tutorials, seminars, fieldwork, practical demonstrations, and e-learning. You should also be able to adopt different multimedia techniques.
While you lecture on your field, it’s imperative to conduct research and contribute to your field through publications such as books, journals, and scholarly articles.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biological science teachers in colleges and universities earn an average annual salary of $101,320. The highest-paid postsecondary biological science teachers earn more than $179,450 a year, which also makes this one of the highest-paying jobs for marine biology degree holders.
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Although we have highlighted ten high-paying marine biology jobs, there are other jobs you can get with your bachelor’s degree. As noted, most of these jobs pay more than $60,000 a year, with a few capable of paying as high as $200,000 a year.