Aquatic biologists study marine life and their surroundings. They also examine the environmental impact of industry and other human activities on aquatic organisms and advise others on environmental policies and regulations for the protection of marine life. The field of aquatic biology includes both marine biology (the study of salt-water organisms) and limnology (the study of fresh-water organisms).
Aquatic biologists work as researchers and consultants for academic institutions, government agencies, and environmental organizations in both the public and private sectors. They spend much of their time designing studies and conducting research and are expected to present their findings at conferences or in published reports.
Most research positions in aquatic biology require a Ph.D. in biology or a sub-branch of the field. However, a master’s degree may be acceptable for applied research and product development jobs. Advanced degree curriculums are usually more specialized with an emphasis on research.
Aquatic biologists with a Ph.D. often accept post-doctorate research positions before taking full-time independent research positions. Post-doctoral jobs allow biologists to publish their research in academic journals and other scholarly publications, which is essential for obtaining a full-time position in the field.
Aquatic biologists are most often concerned with marine life at the cellular level as well as the environmental impact that various human practices have on marine habitats. Depending on their place of employment, some biologists rely on government-funded grants to support their research.
Responsibilities of an aquatic biologist may include the following:
Although some long hours may be required, biologists generally work 40 hours per week.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of aquatic biology will increase much faster than average at 21% through the year 2018.
A May 2008 government report lists the average salary for biological scientists as $55,000, with figures ranging from $33,500 to $91,000. Biologists employed with the Federal Government had earnings that were significantly higher.