So you think you want to be a marine biologist?


You want to swim with dolphins, talk to the manta rays and plunge into warm, crystal clear tropical waters? Interesting…

I really love this job, and I know for sure that all marine biologists feel the same. However I sometimes get the feeling that most of the students and young “marine biologists to be” do not quite know the real meaning of being a marine biologist.

Recently we had the amazing chance to have young Seychellois marine enthusiasts to join our team based at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles. Fred from Island School Seychelles, a Save Our Seas Foundation project, spent a week with us, while a group from the University of Seychelles joined us for a day.


It was a great experience both for them and for us; we had the chance, through the eyes of these young students, to realise just how much work we carry out, how many skills are required to accomplish our daily routine tasks, and how little people generally know about what the job really entails.

And that inspired the subject of this blog!

There is no denying that it is true, this is one the best jobs in the world. We often live in breathtaking places and sometimes we do have the chance to get close to amazing marine creatures. But, the glamour is just a part of the story. Generally the smallest part! Despite what people think, swimming with dolphins is not exactly what all marine biologists do. It’s like judging a book by its cover.

So, together with my colleagues, WiseOceans Marine Educators Jo and Charlotte, we decided to make a list of the things you don’t know about this job. So, here it is, our top nine things you never knew about the life of a marine biologist!

  1. Marine biologists have to study a lot to get where they are. And they keep on doing it. All life long. All. Life. Long.  Marine biologists are super knowledgeable professionals. Most of them have a degree or two, often a Masters and a PhD. They have spent an age in the university library; while the rest of the world was clubbing, playing football, singing, they have learned to appreciate the “wonders” of chemistry or a math formula. And, if this is not enough, they know that they will keep on studying for their entire life if they want to keep up with the pace of science. Something to think about before you enroll in a marine biology course – the studying is for life!
  2. photo3-300x225Marine biologists spend more time with their laptop than their wetsuit. Field work can be glamorous and fun, but what those amazing National Geographic documentaries do not show is that field work is just a small part of the game. A marine biologist’s best friend is not a dolphin, not a colleague, not a starfish, but his or her laptop. Always on marine biologist’s side, on the beach, under the sun, with 33 degrees, full of sand, these laptops are invaluable tools and the companion of many adventures!
  3. Marine biologists are obsessed with data collection and data analysis. Databases, statistics and excel are an integral part of marine biologist’s daily life. What else can I say? That’s it. In most cases, over the years they also develop a pretty crazy passion for it. Yes, we do get excited about data; some kind of weird survival instinct perhaps?!
  4. Marine biologists work in harsh conditions too! As much as we would like to tell you that the life of a marine biologist is filled with all-year round sun and crystal clear waters, we know from first-hand experience that field work can mean being freezing cold, lashed by the rain and seasick on a boat for hours at a time. Not to forget that studying the sea could mean also studying the Artic, the Baltic Sea, the Irish Sea and so on! And anyway, even those who, like us, are working in tropical waters sometimes have to face bad conditions: storms, monsoons and rainy seasons are just as much a part of the game as sunshine.
  5. Marine biologists are patient people and always have a “plan b”. Sometimes a “plan c” too. As glamorous and fascinating as field work can be, it can also test a marine biologist’s nerve. In fact, they might spend months onboard a research vessel, and come back with no useful data, simply because the creature they were looking for decided not to show up. And when you are on a boat every day, looking for something that does not show up, glamour and excitement are increasingly harder and harder to find…
  6. Marine biologists are simple people, driven by passion and dedication rather than anything else.  If you want a career in marine biology because you think you are going to be featured on David Attenborough next series and make lot of money, think again. Many opportunities, especially at the beginning of our career, are voluntary and their purpose is only to gain field work experience. And even later, the money is the last thing marine biologists look for when they pick a job.
  7. Did we mention the amount of time spent on databases, R and excel??
  8. IMG_5239-e1435098670332-300x225Style is not and cannot be a marine biologist’s priority. For those working in the tropics, the sun will play havoc with their skin and hair, and staying stylish can be a challenge. Plus you don’t have time anyway!
  9. Some marine biologists don’t put their feet in the water for months, but rather spend most of their life in the lab. When I was still a Masters student researching brittlestars (so many years ago!) I spent most of my time in the University’s basements, alone in the dark, working night and day at the ultramicrotome, making millions of slices of little brittlestars’ arms and watching them on the microscope. The closest experience to swimming in the sea was changing the filter in the lab aquarium…

However! We also have another list…

  1. Marine biologists really can save the planet (one step at a time). Their research, their passion, their effort in sharing their knowledge about marine life can shine a light on different ways to save it and really inspire the change.
  2. Some, like us, truly are lucky enough to work at least for a part of their lives in beautiful tropical locations, diving and snorkeling with sharks, mantas and schools of fish everyday.
  3. Being a marine biologist means meeting a lot of interesting and inspiring people from all over the world.
  4. Marine biologists know that everybody is envious of their job, even if those people don’t really know what it means!
  5. View from my office this morning!


And if you STILL want to be a marine biologist, take a look at the Wise Work section of the WiseOceans website, full of marine conservation jobs, expeditions, internships and courses.

We also have lots of great career advice:

An Interview with WiseOceans: Read how marine science/conservation professionals got their dream job

Top five pieces of advice for a career in marine conservation

15 skills to help you stand out from the crowd


It’s the best job in the world and I would, of course, highly recommend it 🙂


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126 Responses to So you think you want to be a marine biologist?

  1. hannah March 12, 2018 at 10:47 pm #

    i really want to be a marine biologist but i am scared of getting in the ocean, what do i do

    • Charlotte Orba March 19, 2018 at 10:00 am #

      Hi Hannah, well not all marine biology work takes place in the sea – there’s plenty of research done in research labs and offices. However, you might be missing the best bit! We are not sure exactly what scares you about the oceans but firstly, we would suggest that you feel confident as a swimmer – perhaps get some lessons. Then it is a case of practice makes perfect and gradually introducing yourself to the wonders of the underwater world. Make sure you have a good ‘buddy’ with you who can support you and knows the area/conditions. It’s also a good idea to learn more about the creatures that live in the sea – you’ll find out that they have a lot more to fear from us than we do from them. We hope that helps!

      • Brittney Thompson March 14, 2019 at 4:19 pm #

        I have always dreamed of being a marine biologist. I am 24 and planning on starting college soon. I love the thought of traveling and studying for the rest of my life.

        • Charlotte Orba March 20, 2019 at 6:04 pm #

          Great! Go for it!

          • Jason August 17, 2019 at 10:54 am #

            My friends son has just been accepted for marine biology at university. You say that a laptop is essential and he wants to start the right way (buy good, buy once). For a successful Maine biologist is there a recommended laptop? What should he look for… Windows / Mac / weather proof / specs / software etc.


          • Charlotte Orba September 13, 2019 at 11:39 am #

            Apologies for the delay in replying… You are probably sorted. I don’t think you need to worry too much about which laptop – colleagues and friends have used both macs and Windows laptops – there’s pros and cons for both. Not sure I’ve seen a waterproof one but you can get waterproof covers for things like phones and ipads that work well. Software-wise – just go with a standard set up of Office apps. Specific software will become apparent once he starts. I hope he enjoys his course – tell him to sign up for our Weekly Job Alert – a great place to find volunteer and internship opportunities.

        • Daniel Mitchell October 8, 2020 at 10:30 pm #

          This is my dream to discover and protect our marine wildlife we know so little about our rivers in the world never mind the oceans from fresh water to salt water species the variety that has been and still being discovered is absolutely eye opening to how beautiful our world is look at sperm whales what sort of data we get from them and still know so little about them this is literally like studying another world but yet I would never have a chance to be in this line of work it kinda breaks my heart.

      • morgan March 30, 2019 at 3:50 am #

        i am not scared of sharks are anything like that. but do i need to study tne whole ocean or the creatures in it. how many years of college do i have to go through. i would really appreciate it if you recommended any colleges or universitys.

        Thank you

        • Charlotte Orba April 1, 2019 at 2:59 pm #

          Hi Morgan. Pretty much all university courses start out broad and then you specialise as you go on. It is pretty unlikely that you will study ALL the creatures in it though! There are just too many!! Most undergraduate courses are 3 or 4 years long. It is hard to recommend a course for you though as each one can have a different focus. We recommend spending lots of time looking at their websites and visiting as many as you can in person.

          • Danielle January 3, 2022 at 9:00 pm #

            Hi I’m Danielle I also love the ocean can you pls tell me the apps

      • Ashley Goodwin March 7, 2021 at 11:12 pm #

        I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist since I was five years old (according to my mother) and I was first told we know more about space than the sea. I remember going through school trying my very best in every subject so that I’d get there, until my science teacher in Year 9 told 13 year old me I would never get there and my dream was crushed. My effort in classes dropped through the floor, as did my confidence, and even though I got good grades because (in the most modest way possible) I’m pretty smart, my GCSE’s were far too low for the job. I’m currently a college student on a course not even remotely related to marine biology but my infatuation with the ocean has never left me. Recently I’ve been trying to reignite my natural search for knowledge so I came here to look into it: hasn’t put me off at all. If anything I feel encouraged. I never stopped craving to know more about the ocean and I never will. Even if I never make it in the field of marine biology as a career, I’m going to continue being curious about the most mysterious and beautiful part of our planet.

    • Avery Barbaree October 13, 2020 at 2:36 pm #

      I am too but I really want to be one…

      • anna April 12, 2021 at 6:48 pm #

        it is ok i want to be one to and i am not sceared

    • sarah April 30, 2021 at 11:09 pm #

      me too i really like the ocean and the beutifull magical things that live there like the black spoted sea cucumber the sea lion and the giant golden jellyfish

    • sarah April 30, 2021 at 11:19 pm #

      hi i am sarah and if you know me please reply i love the ocean and the ilands and seas i have learnt all i know from only two apps and it has changed my life if you want to be a marine byoligist its okay trust your heart and gut so go for your life

      kind regards

      • Danielle January 3, 2022 at 9:02 pm #

        Hi I’m Danielle I also love the ocean can you pls tell me the apps you were talking about pls

  2. Lahari April 8, 2018 at 3:47 pm #

    This website is amazing. I really love the oceans and love going snorkeling and scuba diving. I didn’t know Marine Biologists had to go through all of this, but I still want to be one. This website helped me learn more about marine biology. Thank you so much!

    • olivia June 1, 2019 at 7:09 am #


      I’m fourteen and I have wanted to be a marine biologist since I was 6! But there is one problem, I don’t want to work in the field. I know that’s always the main reason people want the job, but for me my dream is to sit in a lab, do research, write papers, and educate! I was wondering if you think it’s possible to be a marine biologist and not work in the field, and if there are jobs where you just work in a lab/office.


      • Aisling April 8, 2021 at 6:42 pm #

        Of course there is! I am only 12 but I know this for sure: there is a great amount of marine biologists that work in the lab, write research papers, or analyze samples or data. I want to live in Hawaii and study wild dolphins, so do field work I guess, but lab marine biologists are more common than you think!

        • William R. Wright October 2, 2021 at 8:21 am #

          Hi Dr. Bill Wright here, May I add, here at the University of Hawaii we have quite a few Marine Biologists who never go in the field. They are analyzing data, teaching high school, or supervising students.

  3. Kiara Singh April 13, 2018 at 5:19 am #

    Hi do you know what I have to apply for if I want to get a job in marine biology (eg what courses to take) and after you get a degree how do you actually get a job as a marine biologist? Thanks!

    • Charlotte Orba April 25, 2018 at 9:52 am #

      Dear Kiara, Our ‘Interview with WiseOceans‘ series is a great place to start. You’ll see the different ways people have forged their careers. For the most part, marine biologists study biology/marine biology/zoology at college/university, but as you’ll read in the interviews it is essential to get lots of practical experience before, during and after your studies. Our Wise Work pages have lots of examples of volunteer opportunities/internships and jobs which will give you an idea of the kinds of qualifications and experience people are looking for. Good luck with it all!

  4. M.C Medallo April 18, 2018 at 11:00 am #

    So I wanted to be a Marine Biologist but I don’t know how to swim due to a trauma of almost getting drowned in the pool when I was young. However, due to my love on the oceans, marine animals and saving them, I want to overcome that fear but it’ll be a little while before I face that fear. What should I do???

    P.S. I love this blog A LOT!!!

    • Charlotte Orba April 25, 2018 at 9:56 am #

      Hi. We are glad you love the blog and it is great that you love the oceans. Overcoming the trauma of nearly drowning is a little beyond our area of expertise but I’m sure there must be professionals out there who can support you. Perhaps some 1-2-1 lessons with a qualified swimming instructor who has experience in this area? We hope that you do find a way to confidently get in the water and enjoy the incredible sights of the underwater world.

  5. Leon May 17, 2018 at 4:15 am #

    I was searching for info about what Marine Biologists do. I have a nephew who says he’s thinking about this career field. I will be seeing him next month and after read this info I’m confident I have enough info to have a great conversation with him. Thank you.

  6. Prakhar saxena June 15, 2018 at 7:44 am #

    I would like to know how should I start my career of marine biologist after 12th…

    • Charlotte Orba June 15, 2018 at 10:44 am #

      Hi Prakhar,
      I’m not entirely sure what you mean by ‘after 12th’. However, I would point you in the direction of our ‘Interview with WiseOceans’ series, which has interviews with over 70 marine conservation professionals, discussing their career path and the skills needed. Our Wise Work pages also have lots of volunteer opportunities and internships, perfect for getting the kind of experience you need for getting a job in this area. Finally, sign up to our Weekly Job Alert email which brings you all the latest opportunities and positions straight to your inbox every Wednesday.

  7. emma June 20, 2018 at 1:42 pm #

    my dream job since i was little has always been to become a marine biologist but I’m awful at maths, to go far is maths something that has to be a strong point and what maths is required? Also I’m in year 10 and i don’t know what subjects to choose to bring me in the direction i want to head, have you got any suggestions?

    • Charlotte Orba June 25, 2018 at 12:05 pm #

      Hi Emma,
      Maths is certainly part of studying marine biology. Statistics, for example, is very important for helping to understand the data you might collect for an experiment. You need to do some research about what universities require for their degrees. Some will want advanced study in maths (A level for example) and others will not require it. Most will want to see you’ve studied a range of sciences, including of course biology. Perhaps speak to a careers advisor at your school and/or see what additional help you can get with maths?
      We wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do.

      • Emma June 25, 2018 at 1:24 pm #

        Thank you so so much for the help!! I’ve now got a maths tutor and I’m doing a lot of research to help guide me with the subjects I will have to choose, thank you so much again

        • Charlotte Orba June 26, 2018 at 8:59 am #

          Great! Good luck with it all.

        • Ni March 25, 2019 at 10:18 pm #

          I want to be a marine biologist and I am currently a sophomore in highschool. I am graduating highschool early to have some extra time to see if marine biology is really what I want to do in the future. I love this blog and I just wanted to know bout how long would it take for me to finish up all of college and if I can jump straight into the marine life right after college.

          • Charlotte Orba March 26, 2019 at 1:53 pm #

            Hi Emma, Most marine biologists study for their undergraduate degree which normally takes 3 or 4 years. Many also choose to do a masters degree (1 or 2 years) but not necessarily straight afterwards. Getting practical experience is key – both to see if you really want to do this and also to help you land a job. Many people don’t immediately start with paid employment straight after college (some do of course) but get further experience in internships, expeditions and volunteer positions. I recommend reading the link at the bottom of the blog – they will give you lots of great advice. Good luck!

  8. shannon grow August 24, 2018 at 1:35 am #

    Hey Charlotte!

    Your article was very helpful! I’m interested in marine biology, and am weighing up career options in a variety of fields. Actually I’m kind of struggling with my decision haha! Marine biology does interest me though, but I’m a very wary person. I’ve almost always been terrified of water (it’s the ebb and flow I seem to have an issue with, as well as not being able to touch the floor), and I’m wary around a animals I’m unfamiliar with (which will probably be fixed upon learning about the creatures). Should I still pursue a degree and career in the field, or do you think my fears will get in the way too much?

    • Charlotte Orba September 5, 2018 at 10:14 am #

      Hi Shannon. Thank you for your comment and we are glad you like the article. As I’ve mentioned in other replies, not all marine biology happens in the field and not all fieldwork happens in the open ocean, so there are lots of options for you to pursue. Certainly, gradually getting experience in the sea, in the company of experienced or professional swimmers/divers might help you overcome your fear of the ocean and learning more about the amazing animals in the ocean will definitely help you assess the relative risks from them. I hope that’s helpful and good luck with whatever you decide to do.

  9. Ben Pillsbury September 28, 2018 at 1:37 pm #

    Dear Charlotte Orba ,

    My name is Ben Pillsbury and I would like some help with a Marine Biology project. I wanted to email you because you are an expert, and you most likely will know how I can find the information I am looking for. I have three questions that I would like to ask:

    Do you know where I can find some benefits of studying animals

    (or do you know some)?

    Do you know the cost of researching/studying animals?

    Do you know (or can you figure out) the time and effort it takes to research animals?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this, I look forward to hearing you soon.


    Ben Pillsbury

    P.S. My deadline for this project is closing, so if at all possible I would like to hear back in the next 2 weeks

    • Charlotte Orba October 1, 2018 at 7:33 am #

      Hi Ben, Thank you for your questions. I’m slightly struggling to answer your questions as they are quite vague. Animal research takes many forms so the cost, time and effort vary enormously. You might do this as part of a degree or post-degree research or you might work for a conservation NGO who run the research. The research might be in a lab or in a super expensive research ship (and everything in between). In terms of the benefits of studying animals – again I’m not quite sure what you mean. Generally speaking, the more research that is done on a species then the more we know how to protect it and ensure its future. From a human perspective, working in a field where you feel you are making a difference to the well-being or future of an animal is very rewarding and gives a really positive focus to your working life. I hope this is useful to you.
      Many thanks.

  10. Allexis Zamora October 1, 2018 at 4:43 am #

    Hey there! So, I was raised on a Salmon Hatchery, run by two head marine biologists. Growing up I was interested in Marine Biology, but we moved in my mid-teens, and I never got to fully investigate the different fields in the career. I’ve now completed a general associates degree, and am interested in pursuing something similar to what the two biologists at my old home did. Hatchery work and studying Chinook Salmon. Is there a specific area of study or branch of career I should research into that would help me do this? What type of job would that be called? I’m more searching for job titles to investigate what branch of marine biology I would be most interested in. It’s hard to look for info when I don’t know what I’m looking for!
    Also, as an 18 year old with high school diploma and associates in hand, how difficult would it be, to get into a good MB program, in your opinion?
    Thank you so much.

    • Charlotte Orba October 1, 2018 at 7:44 am #

      Hi Allexis, Thank you for your question. It’s great that you want to get into marine biology. I would firstly recommend that you work towards getting your Batchelor’s degree – this way you get to explore lots of different areas of marine biology and really know what you want to do (there are SO MANY different areas. I must confess the US education system is not my area of speciality so I can’t give too much specific information here. In terms of job titles, you are generally looking at fisheries jobs e.g. fisheries observer. Marine biology degrees and jobs are fairly competitive so getting as much volunteering/internship experience wherever you can is essential to help you stand out from the crowd. I hope that is helpful to you.

  11. Amy October 2, 2018 at 10:09 pm #

    I have wanted to be a marine biologist since I was a little girl. I was always obsessed with the water. Unfortunately I had many problems with my hearing and going underwater only made things worse. The doctors couldn’t do anything and under his advice I stopped working towards a career in marine biology because I wouldn’t be able to dive. Was this a mistake? Could I be a marine biologist that doesn’t dive?

    • Charlotte Orba October 17, 2018 at 9:04 am #

      Dear Amy,
      There are indeed many career options in marine biology that don’t involve diving. In fact, this blog serves to highlight that while working in-water is an attractive element to working as a marine biologist, there are many types of work that are office/lab-based that marine biologists spend their time doing – research, marine education, fisheries, policy work etc… You don’t have to be the one going underwater to be involved or lead the research. If you read through some of our interviews with marine professionals you will see there is a wide variety of careers. If you can snorkel (as opposed to diving) this could also open up some opportunities. So if you still want to be a marine biologist, don’t let not diving put you off. There will some restrictions to accessing some opportunities but with some creative thinking, there will be options.

  12. zara ajmiri October 3, 2018 at 3:29 pm #

    Hi I am really interested in study marine biology and ocean sciences in general and I know this is a silly question but during field studies can marine biologists get attacked/bitten by other sharks or sea creatures that could have life long impacts/ injuries. Thanks I still don’t know a lot about Ocean sciences and Marine Biology but I am doing as much research as I can to see if it is something I want to do.

    • Charlotte Orba October 17, 2018 at 8:57 am #

      Dear Zara,
      If you are working with wild animals then there is always the risk of injury – whether it is marine or terrestrial life. The reality is that incidents like this are extremely rare. The more you learn about marine creatures the more you will learn that they have much more to fear from us that we do from them. I personally don’t know anyone that has been bitten by a shark or even come close. In reality, the more dangerous things in the oceans are things that you might accidentally touch like jellyfish, urchins and some types of shells – even then, as you develop your in-water skills, you can minimise this risk. So, there is never ‘no risk’ but you will learn that the risk is low when you follow appropriate advice and protocol. It definitely shouldn’t put you off following this career route if that is what you are interested in!

  13. Paulina Correa October 8, 2018 at 5:39 am #

    Hello, I am very interested in marine biology and I am in the 10th grade. Do you know of any activities that I could do in high school to increase my chances of getting into an MB program for college and also which ones you would most recommend? I am also very interested in environmentalism and wondering which field of marine biology would best suit my interest in the subject.

    • Charlotte Orba October 17, 2018 at 8:50 am #

      Hi Paulina,
      How great that you want to be involved in marine biology. I am not an expert on the High School system but ensuring you have good grades in all the sciences (especially biology of course) and maths would be essential. Marine Biology is a very competitive field so adding lots of practical experience where possible can help with your application. Find volunteer/internship opportunities in your area, go on a related expedition during a vacation etc… We have lots of interviews with marine conservation professionals which you might find useful/inspiring. Also, keep an eye on our Wise Work pages for opportunities that will help your application. I wouldn’t worry too much about which area of marine biology yet – your undergrad course should expose you to a variety of subjects and fields which will help you focus on what you want to specialise in.

  14. Ryan November 2, 2018 at 5:12 am #

    Hi Charlotte. Just recently, the idea of becoming a Marine Biologist has been distracting me quite a bit, especially since I started diving.

    Thing is, I’m 22, didn’t do well in high school, took a few years off, and am now enrolled in a 1 year culinary program. I’ve considered finishing the 1 year and taking the plunge into University for marine biology but because of my spotty past with academics, I’m doubting myself pretty hard. I’ve been doing really well since going back to school but I understand that the course I’m in now is nowhere near as difficult as a marine biology program ought to be.

    My big question is, would someone like myself be fit for such a course? And are there any sort of prerequisites or things one would need to learn before even applying?
    I’m currently learning the basics of Excel at school, but I have no knowledge of R, nor do I know much about programming in general. I assume such things would be taught in the first year, but the prospect of locking myself into a 4 year program is kind of scary, so I’m trying to arm myself with knowledge as best I can.

    • Charlotte Orba November 5, 2018 at 10:55 am #

      Dear Ryan, It is hard for us to say whether you will stick with a course or not however if you are interested in a career in marine biology then studying it an university is normally part of the journey. That said, I know many people who have chosen to formally study later on in life having taken part in lots of practical experience before hand – expeditions, volunteer opportunities etc…Perhaps taking part in something like this would confirm for you that this is something you really want to study and stick to? I wouldn’t worry too much about R etc…this would all be part of a under graduate course, depending on the type of course you choose – prerequisites etc… would also vary according to the individual course you apply to. I hope that is helpful in some way.

  15. Ismah Moosuddee November 19, 2018 at 10:48 am #

    Hello, I am a passionate of the marine world and have the intention to pursue my studies in marine biology. However I suffer from astma and wanted to know whether it will be a problem as a marine biologist. Thank you!

    • Charlotte Orba November 23, 2018 at 12:21 pm #

      Hi Ismah, I’m afraid we are not medical experts so we can’t give you personal advice on this matter. I would encourage you to find out more from your doctor. In terms of diving, then organisations such as PADI have guidance on what medical issues can impact on diving which you can take to your own doctor. As we’ve mentioned in several other comments here, not all marine biology happens underwater so if you couldn’t dive it wouldn’t necessarily stop you from being a marine biologist. Of course some field work needs to be underwater and some of this happens in remote places, where medical help can be hard to get to quickly so it is important that you get good medical advice on this. I wish you all the best in your future studies, whatever you decide to do.
      Many thanks

  16. Maklee Richards December 11, 2018 at 8:11 pm #

    I am in 6th grade and I have a love for marine life, biology and science. Ever since I saw movies about marine life I was fasinated by it. But, my grades aren’t to good and go I was wondering if my grades now would efect them later?

    • Charlotte Orba December 13, 2018 at 9:49 am #

      Hi – Not everyone does well in school to start with but it is never too late to improve! Finding what you are passionate about can be the incentive to work harder. Most degree courses will be quite competitive so good grades will be important – but the exact grades will depend on where you apply. The best advice we can give you to is to keep trying, get all the help you can and put your passion for marine life into all aspect of your studies.

  17. Isabella Bradley December 18, 2018 at 10:37 pm #

    Hi my name is Bella, I’m in secondary school year 10, I have always loved marine life since a young age and have wanted to be a marine biologist since year 6, it inspires me so much just one job can change the world for the better. I am taking my GCSEs next year is there any pacific grades I need to achieve to get to this goal? I also have a type of autism , Aspergers, would my condition effect me getting to this goal of becoming a marine biologist?

    • Charlotte Orba December 19, 2018 at 12:04 pm #

      Hi Bella, We love that you want to be a marine biologist. In terms of GCSE grades then you really look at what grades your 6th form college will need to study A-levels like biology and maths. You then need to look ahead to Universities to see what kinds of A-levels they need for a marine biology degree (this is often biology, maths and other science subjects). Your school careers guide should be able to help you with this. I don’t know enough about you and Aspergers to give you very specific advice but I would say that marine conservation and marine biology would benefit from having lots of diverse people in it – like any job. So I would seek out as much support as you can get and use your passion for the subject to get towards your goal.
      Many thanks and good luck with it all


      • Isabella Bradley December 19, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

        Thank you so much Charlotte for a quick response, I will take on your advice and see what happens, thank you again

  18. Noa January 12, 2019 at 1:15 pm #

    Hi. I’m 14 and i’ve just recently recognized my interest in marine biology. I’ve read quite a lot of articles to get an image of the job . I’ve always been interested in marine life , corals and such and i would definitely want to spend my life underwater or researching and helping with the marine life . My friend who’s dad lives in the maldives is a marine biologist and spends his time underwater doing his utmost to save the corals. I also want to discover more about the sea life and read books , get more knowledge. Sad to say but i struggle in math. Also , i’m in the french system , so i don’t have a variety of choices when it comes to taking courses or classes that could lead to getting in the field later on .i also fear that my lack of performance in maths and physics could affect my choice . I know marine biology isn’t just about swimming with sea animals and being in beautiful places , at the end of the day the job is about helping marine life and wanting to learn more . And that’s definitely something i want to do. Any advice ?

    • Charlotte Orba January 14, 2019 at 9:20 am #

      Hi Noa,

      At 14 I don’t think you need to worry too much about choosing specific courses or classes just yet but you are right an understanding of maths supports most science degrees. So working hard in this area and getting all the support you can is a good idea. It might not be the thing you are best at but improving it will definitely help. You can give yourself some idea about what universities are looking for by searching for marine biology courses in Universities in your country. That might give you some inspiration. You seem to have a good understanding of what marine conservation is so that’s a good start!
      All the best with your future studies.

  19. Shannon Podeswik January 31, 2019 at 9:30 pm #

    Hello! I loved this article and it was definitely very helpful. I have always thought about becoming a Marine Biologist pretty much since middle school(I am 22 years old now). I am in my second semester of community college and am just still very unsure of what I want to do. I am thinking about Environmental Science but am just not sure. Math has always been my worst subject so I am definitely just nervous about that. What kind of math is required? Also I have read many articles that it’s not even worth going into Marine Biology because of how little the job growth is and how extremely competitive it is. This is definitely my dream job but am just very unsure about job security and math skills. Any advice would be amazing. Thank you so much!

    • Charlotte Orba February 4, 2019 at 12:33 pm #

      Hi Shannon, It is true that getting paid work and a secure career progression in marine biology is a challenge – but that doesn’t mean it is impossible! You need to really want to do it though. That said, it is a wide field and not every marine biologist is cruising the oceans collecting data and diving with dolphins! So there are lots of different options – with different levels of job security. Our Interview with WiseOceans series is a great place to explore the different kinds of jobs and roles – alongside how to get them. In terms of the math you need – again that would depend on what kind of marine biologist you become. Some roles will require quite advanced math and others, not so much. It may not have to be your ‘best’ subject but worthwhile putting in the effort to do as well as you can. In general, you find people recommend that having good skills in statistics is a useful skill to have. I hope that was helpful and good luck with everything.

  20. Fernanda February 11, 2019 at 7:31 am #

    Hola, since when I was child the ocean never failed to captivate me leaving me with a sort of pull towards anything related to it. i always wanted to work in a filed that would allow me to study wild animals whether medically or in conservation, I recently transferred universities and major from animal science for veterinary medicine to marine biology, I’m still not sure in what I would want to specialize (I’m 21 3rd year college) I was wondering were would it be a good start to gain experience and if marine biology could also include studying how the ocean floor volcanic movements affect the nutrients available to the sea which in turn affect the food pyramid, along with how human interaction whether directly or indirectly affect the oceans ecosystem.
    Thank you for your time

    • Charlotte Orba February 11, 2019 at 8:50 am #

      Hola Fernanda, Thank you for your message. I would definitely recommend getting as much experience as you can as soon as possible. Marine biology/conservation is a very competitive field so being able to stand out from the crowd is important. I would recommend reading these two blogs (15 Skills to help you stand out from the crowd and Top five pieces of advice for a career in marine conservation as well as our Interview with WiseOceans series so help give you an idea of how to build your career. In terms of ‘what marine biology includes’…this is a big question to answer, especially in this forum. Marine biology is linked to oceanography and other disciplines and inter-disciplinary work is very important. I would suggest you speak to your professors and tutors at college to find out more.
      Many thanks

  21. Keira February 20, 2019 at 6:24 am #

    Hello! I love this article. I’ve just recently started a smart start course at UWA, so that it can help me get into a marine biology course next year, what kind of laptop would you recommend for study purposes?

    • Charlotte Orba February 20, 2019 at 8:39 am #

      Hi Keira, It is great to hear you’ve started your studies. We are not IT experts here but we have staff who have used both Mac and Windows laptops for their studies. These days I don’t think it matters. We have had, on some occasions, some issues in small programmes only being developed for Windows laptops and not Mac but this has not been a major issue so I would go with whatever suits you best.

  22. Marlon Rosales April 12, 2019 at 10:58 pm #

    Hello! I also really enjoyed this article as it really brought more into perspective as I wish to study marine biology in college. Although I am wondering about a couple of different things going into different marine biology courses, one being what kind of workload would courses generally give and I do not wish to be a marine biologist but an Aquarius.This being said would you recommend studying marine biology for this particular subject?

  23. Anna Van Meter April 15, 2019 at 3:26 am #

    Hi! I am Anna and I am 13 years old and have always loved the ocean and all the animals in it. I like studying but I would rather be in the ocean. I have been researching marine biology but I haven’t found any job that you spend a lot of time in the ocean. If there is a job for that can someone let me know?
    This article was really helpful. I am really interested in oceanography but I still would like to be in the ocean more. Thank you for your time.

    • Charlotte Orba June 13, 2019 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Anna, there are all kinds of jobs within marine biology many of which require fieldwork either as part of your job or full time. Read our Interview with WiseOceans series (link at the bottom of the article) to see the range of roles there are.

  24. Raissa Rengel May 4, 2019 at 10:57 am #

    Hi, I’m Issa! I’m currently a freshman and have realized my interest in wanting to further pursue marine biology. What strand I should take for it?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Charlotte Orba June 13, 2019 at 10:01 am #

      Hi Issa, you need to research the entry requirements for each college/university – each one varies. It is also different in each country. In general, taking sciences (obviously biology should be one of them) and maths prepares you well for studying marine biology.

  25. Tautinei June 3, 2019 at 3:02 am #

    OMG this is such a great list, as a 17 year old getting ready for college this gives a lot of useful insight. thank you, because now I can prepare before I start my senior year.

  26. solange June 12, 2019 at 7:39 pm #

    I just got my BS in human biology. After taking microbiology I experienced how interesting lab can be and how many tests come from sea creatures. My goal was to be a nurse because I am very friendly and caring, but honestly I dont know if I want to wear scrubs everyday and work inside a building all day. I travel a lot and most of the places I go to are palaces with beaches, so now I dont know if its too late for me (I am 26) or if I am making the right call because I live in NYC and was thinking on moving to PR to get my masters there. Help please.

    • Charlotte Orba June 13, 2019 at 10:10 am #

      Hi Solange, Congratulations on your degree. It’s never too late to change direction!

  27. Gabriella August 14, 2019 at 6:43 pm #

    Hi i completely love reading books and watching movies about marine life and its my dream to become one but there is something i wluld like to know…..As a marine biologist do you work away from your home and where do they work?

  28. Amelia November 8, 2019 at 2:32 am #

    I am in the 8th grade and am passionate about marine biology. I know that you don’t go out in the field much, but I want to be a research marine biologist. I really don’t know if that is an actual job. I am super interested in Arctic animals (Narwhals). I would love to go research narwhals, but I don’t even know if that is a job.

    • Charlotte Orba November 13, 2019 at 9:44 am #

      Dear Amelia, A marine biology researcher is most definitely a job and there will be researchers who specialise in Arctic animals. I would continue to look at the next stage in your education and take it a step at a time. Once you reach college there will be plenty of opportunities to focus on a particular area of study – you might even find you change your mind about what you want to specialise in!

  29. Cecilia December 15, 2019 at 3:33 pm #

    Ok so I have a question …in college do I need to take a zoological , course along with all the marine biology courses?

    • Cecilia December 15, 2019 at 3:37 pm #

      I’m trying to make a plan for when I get to college in in 9th grade now I really love sea turtles and dolphins whales and sharks ECT. I want to help protect them as a marine biologist

    • Charlotte Orba January 1, 2020 at 10:36 am #

      Hi Cecilia,
      Each college course is different. I wouldn’t worry too much as specific classes just yet. The field is very broad and you can make a decision nearer the time. Get as much practical experience as you can in the meantime.

  30. Sofia March 30, 2020 at 7:30 am #

    I want to be a marine biologist with all, my heart. Oceans are breathtaking and I would love to explore them. I’ve always felt excited when it comes to science. The only thing I’m worried is that my sight is not perfect, I use contact lenses and when I take them off I use my normal glasses. I want so bad to be a marine biologist, but my sight is an obstacle. Need an opinion please

  31. Athan June 10, 2020 at 4:46 pm #

    Hi Charlotte! I loved the article and I thought that it was very interesting and helpful. I’ve always wanted to be a marine biologist since I was little but I’m not sure what universities are offering the best courses for marine biology. I also want to stay close to my home (Canada) while still getting the best education possible. any suggestions or tips for me?

  32. Oscar July 6, 2020 at 2:43 pm #

    I have a son 29 years old , presently in the Navy, submariner, Master Diver, very smart, very undecided about future. He will have 10 years of service in 19 months. We are exploring possibilities.

    • Charlotte Orba July 9, 2020 at 12:15 pm #

      There are so many possibilities. Have a read of our Interview with WiseOceans series for a view of different roles within the sector.

      • Oscar July 9, 2020 at 12:52 pm #

        Reading now. Will be in touch. Thanks

  33. Sakura July 27, 2020 at 7:53 pm #

    I love dolphins, turtles, etc. I love the ocean.

  34. Coda Sponaugle August 11, 2020 at 7:45 pm #

    Hello I’m Coda, I’m in 9th grade and I wanted to start researching about marine life but I can find a website that has all the information about every type of marine species. I’m also doing a project on what I want my career path to be in pcca but its getting a bit harder for me to get all of my information because I would like to go to a collage in South Korea and study marine biology but i’m not sure which is a good collage or not. Could someone help me?

  35. Jacquelyn September 9, 2020 at 2:26 pm #

    Hi, my name is Jackie. I have wanted to study sharks since i was in the 7th grade. I attended one school to earn my basic biology degree and play volleyball, and recently transferred to my new school to focus on marine biology. I love learning about all things marine life and the environment but I get very overwhelmed with how much information there is. I get discouraged that it might be too much or I am not smart enough for this. And yet i have so much love and passion for marine biology. Do you have any advice on where i can go to get more experience or any kind of study tools to help make it not feel so overwhelming? I don’t want to give up on my dreams and I want to do my best at any job I have, but I have been pursuing this for so long and the finish line is almost there (I graduate next fall).

    • Charlotte Orba October 8, 2020 at 12:03 pm #

      HI Jackie, Don’t give up! Why not get inspired by reading some our ‘Interview with WiseOceans‘ series. It’s packed full of useful information and inspiration. There’s a lot to learn but just take a day at a time and keep going. You’ll be amazed where you can get to!

  36. Eyitayo Olusayo September 23, 2020 at 2:13 pm #

    Thank you for the information

  37. Duru October 9, 2020 at 1:12 pm #

    İ would love to be a marine biologist,im obsessed with sharks,and corals.Sea or ocean is for me but,in my country there is no marine biology universities,that’s not a really big problem but i dont think if i be a marine biologist in Turkey i would be pretty much studying for nothing because Turkey doesn’t really care about the sea 🙁

    Should i worry about this?

    • Charlotte Orba October 14, 2020 at 9:33 am #

      The oceans cover the world so there are lots of opportunities to help marine life. You can study abroad too – perhaps for a post-graduate degree. Also, maybe the seas around Turkey need you! Don’t give up!

  38. Sarah October 19, 2020 at 10:36 am #

    Is this a good carreer idea for someone who is bad at math? Like im just downright terrible at it. I also hate people. But I love the ocean well water in general and the creatures that live in it. Ive thought about commercisl diving buy physically speaking I dont think thats the right choice. I know I want to work in the ocean. Just trying to find my calling j suppose

  39. María Dolores October 29, 2020 at 11:57 pm #

    Los biólogos marinos estudian las plantas, animales y microorganismos que viven en el mar. Sus investigaciones ayudan a gestionar y proteger la vida marina, a controlar el daño ambiental y a explorar maneras de hacer un uso seguro de los recursos del mar.

  40. sam November 4, 2020 at 5:27 pm #

    hi! I currently am a highschool student and very interested in marine biology. What should I do right now to prepare for this field of study? In addition, any good colleges you recommend in California for marine biology?
    thank you so much!

    • Charlotte Orba November 30, 2020 at 10:16 am #

      Hi Sam, Good general education with a focus on science/maths is what you need. I don’t know specific colleges in California as it’s not an area I know but there’s sure to be some good ones. Do some research and look at their entry requirements. Getting practical experience with marine conservation organisations/NGOs etc… is a great way to help you stand out from the crowd. Check out our Interviews with WiseOceans series (link at the bottom of the blog) for more inspiration.

  41. Len. B November 30, 2020 at 5:25 am #

    Hi, I live in Australia and I am currently 14. I am to be in year 10 next year and I was wondering if you know if there are any recommended part-time jobs that I could get to work my way up to being a marine-biologist? I heard working at an aquarium is an option but are there perhaps any more?

    • Charlotte Orba November 30, 2020 at 10:13 am #

      Hi Len, Aquariums are good places to get experience. You could also try local marine conservation/nature organisations. We are not from Australia so we’re unable to be super-specific. Maybe some other readers here might know?

  42. Sara December 1, 2020 at 1:00 pm #

    Hello, I live in the UK and I’m 15. I’m thinking about going to a marine college next year. I’m thinking on not doing A levels beacuse I want to not waste 2 years on learning biology, math and etc.. again..when with this time I can get experience by doing college courses. Do you have to be intelligent for this job? How do you know if this job is for you? In marine college what do you learn about? I have chemistry, biology, environmental management, English and maths which I am studying now. I’ve been homeschooled, for 2 years I believe. I’m bad at chemistry especially the equations, I’m okay at remembering the information though. Do you have tips on how to start to learn or what I could Do?

  43. Sara December 1, 2020 at 1:04 pm #

    Plus I’m not the best at math ethier. What tips would you recommend on starting a job as a marine biologist, what should I look out for and what do I need? Should I be cautious about something or keep something in mind?

  44. Pip December 29, 2020 at 6:23 pm #

    Hi Charlotte,
    My name’s Pip and I’m doing some research on becoming a marine biologist. It is what I’ve always wanted to do, however I’ve found out that sadly the salary of a marine biologist researcher can be relatively low; I would like to know if a typical marine biologist has to work another job on the side in order to maybe get a house/ have a secure future?
    Many thanks!

  45. Katherine January 28, 2021 at 6:29 pm #

    I’m currently doing an Animal Science degree Bsc and want to become a Marine Biologist after. I cant find any useless information about what courses to do next, whether you can apply to become a Marine Biologist straight away? I’m also taking scuba diving courses after Covid 19 allows me to however to become pro it is so much money. I’m happy to pay as I know this job is for me however is there a certain level you have to be at to become one?

    Thank you

    • katherine January 28, 2021 at 6:29 pm #

      *useful information

    • Charlotte Orba February 1, 2021 at 11:04 am #

      Hi Katherine, In terms of SCUBA qualifications I would suggest that DiveMaster is a good minimum to aim for. It all depends on what type of marine biology you go into. Free diving is also useful – but if you’re not in the field then obviously they would be less important. For next steps – then getting as much experience you can is the best thing – either through expeditions or volunteer work – check out our Job Board. You’ll also find lots of our Interview with WiseOceans there – which have heaps of advice. Of course you may want to go on to do a Masters to formalise your switch into marine biology, in which case you need to hit the internet and research all the options – there’s so many! I hope that’s helpful.

  46. Ava McHarg February 1, 2021 at 11:08 pm #

    Hi, I really want to be a marine biologist. Do you know of any good programs and how to get in to them? I loved this article, thank you so so much!!

  47. Ali February 2, 2021 at 11:41 pm #

    Hi! My name is Ali and I am currently in 11th grade. I have been interested in marine biology for awhile and took a class at my high school on marine biology and did very well and enjoyed it. I have just started to research about the classes that I’ll be taking in college if I choose marine biology as my major. My main concern is that I saw that I would have to take physics and organic chemistry. I am not good at physics nor do I like it and I’ve also heard that organic chemistry is extremely difficult, which is something that I think I would struggle in. If I am not wanting to take those classes then is this the right major for me? I’m trying to decide if my interest in marine biology should just be a hobby/interest or if it’s something I should major in. Any tips?

    Also, this blog has been very helpful!

    • Charlotte Orba February 9, 2021 at 11:13 am #

      Hi Ali – I wouldn’t worry too much about specific classes. There will be help available I’m sure. It certainly shouldn’t put you off if you really want to do it. Also, check out different colleges and what their requirements are.

  48. chloe purser February 9, 2021 at 9:04 am #

    ive dreamed of being a marine biologist. i know that i am young [12] but i have dreamt of being a marine biologist from the age of 3. it could always change but i dont really see that happening. i love the ocean and i can deal with sitting behind a laptop.

  49. Nurul February 24, 2021 at 4:08 am #

    hi! can you help me to give me advices, what should I study to be a marine biologist in this early 13? and what kind of life-skills or interests that we have to develop? thank you!

  50. Peter Sych March 2, 2021 at 2:13 pm #

    A nice Stuff. Thank you. Following from

  51. bob March 8, 2021 at 10:30 pm #

    I want to be a marine biologist but im a 12 year old and im afraid to get eaten

    • Katara October 12, 2021 at 11:25 am #

      You won’t get eaten. I’m Katara and I stand up to sharks. They are misunderstood and won’t hurt humans on purpose. If you really want to become a marine biologist, then nothing will be in your way.

  52. Ioanna March 17, 2021 at 7:38 pm #

    Hi. I love the sound of a marine biologist and I really want to become one. But I fear that it will be tough for me since I struggle a little bit with physics and math. Do you have any advice?

  53. Rose March 18, 2021 at 5:36 am #

    Hello! My name is rose and I’ve wanted to be a marine biologist for as long as I remember. I’m 16 and I’m just starting to get ready to apply to college. After reading this I just had a couple questions. I like to travel a lot and I do not like lab or computer work I like to be outside and always active. Is there really that much lab work or work that has to be done on the computer or is there certain jobs in marine science that would allow me to spend most of my time in the field? I was also wondering if the marine biology major was categorized under environmental science or biology.

  54. A.Y. June 13, 2021 at 6:56 pm #

    This was so helpful! Thank you for giving us more insight on ‘the day in the life of’. It’s 2021, I’m approaching my mid 30’s and already have a 4 year degree in a non-related field to Marine Biology. Lately, I’ve been inspired to seek more info in Marine Biology and Marine Conservation, because I feel connected to the ocean and love marine life, but sometimes I feel “too old” to pursue this. What are options for people like me in my age and having a non-related degree to science? Where should one start? Thank you!

    • Charlotte Orba June 14, 2021 at 9:40 am #

      You’re never too old! And moving sideways from an unrelated field into marine conservation is more common than you think. I would start by reading some of our Interview with WiseOceans</em> series as well as watching our Facebook Live version – both contain interviews with people who didn’t start out in marine conservation as well as people who came to it a bit later in life. Expeditions are great ways to get practical experience and get a feel for some aspects of marine conservation and it’s worth thinking about how your current skills could be transferable. Many people have gone down the route of expeditions/volunteering and then taking a Masters in a related subject. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

  55. Charlie July 25, 2021 at 5:54 am #

    Hi my name is Charlie and i am only 13 years old but i am ridiculously obsesed with these kind of jobs and i want to spend my whole life on it honestly, but i am not sure what college i have to go to and how good does my grades have to be for me to be accepted in college. can you give me some tips?

  56. Ella July 28, 2021 at 5:53 am #

    Do you work alone most of the time, I prefer to be alone rather than in a team mad you you get to interact with the animals?

  57. Sarah October 12, 2021 at 11:23 am #

    My 12 year old daughter has her heart set on becoming a Shark Biologist. She has always loved surfing, and has even seen some sharks from distance. That’s when I knew there is no way of changing her mind. Once Katara has her mind set on something, it won’t change. Is there a way I can help her achieve her goal from this age? She is competitive, protective, smart and playful.

  58. Jeramyt October 19, 2021 at 5:12 am #

    i want to become a marine biologist but it looks like a lot of work. Do you get paid a lot? Thankyou so much
    love from Jeramy

    • Charlotte Orba October 20, 2021 at 10:10 am #

      It very much depends Jeramy! On the whole, it’s not a career known for very high salaries (especially in the field) but it depends what you do. It is a lot of work – but so is anything worthwhile!

    • Mia de Bruyn November 1, 2021 at 3:02 pm #

      Hey, I want to be a marine Biologist, it’s my biggest dream..But currently I live in South-Africa but I want to know more about what it’s like to be one of you!
      I really enjoy ocean life and I want to see it with my own eye’s.I’d really appreciate it if you guus can tell me a bit more.. I want to know how old you should be to start this.. I dedicate most of my time studying so I’m not scared of some studying.

  59. Ellie Cambo November 28, 2021 at 9:25 pm #

    Hi my name is Ellie Cambo, I am 15 yrs old and I’m looking to hopefully be a marine biologist or something in that field of work. I’m not doing to good in math right now and I am aware it is important to know a lot of maths, and even a lot of sciences, I’ve already looked into getting a tutor and talking with my school about math routs to help better my future, but the reason why I’m here was to possibly get some constructive criticism and advice from a professional in the field of work that I hope to one day work in. Oh I don’t know if this is important or not but I also have a padi open water diver certification and I know you said that I’ll more than likely be in a lab most of the time but I still wanted to throw that out there too.

    Ellie Cambo


    You can contact me here at my email:

  60. Sierra January 21, 2022 at 2:41 am #

    Hi, I want to be a marine biologist becuase I like science and love the ocean but I get bored easily and I feel like I would get bored of the science bit( I know that kinda of the whole point) but is there anyway I could be like an assistant like just go out and collect samples and bring them to the lab that way I get to spend most the time in the ocean and sometimes I help with experiments


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