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Marine Biology Degrees offer More Options than You Might Think

By Peterson's Staff updated on Monday, February 03, 2014
You’ve probably heard of marine biology, but what exactly do marine biologists do? Although all marine biologists work in areas related to water life, they can be found conducting research in many fields and collaborating with professionals from a broad range of disciplines. Getting a degree in Marine Biology can be the beginning of a scientific adventure that might lead to new advances in medicine, tracking the migration of animals that live in the ocean or in bringing a species back from the brink of extinction.  While you might ultimately earn your PhD in a specialty within Marine Biology, a degree in Marine Biology can be a step towards a graduate veterinary program or other programs within the sciences, such as biochemistry. Conversely, those who have undergraduate degrees in the sciences or engineering might seek a graduate degree in Marine Biology in order to pursue their goals in science and conservation.

It is very rare to have the job title ‘marine biologist’. The field is so diverse that most individuals specialize and, therefore, have job titles such as ‘icthyologist’ or ‘marine mammalogist’. Also, mathematicians and even sociologists and economists work in the field of marine biology in order to gather complex data and help create sustainable policies. Understanding marine life also means understanding the chemical and physical properties of bodies of water. Therefore, physical oceanographers and marine chemists may also work as part of a team of marine biologists.

Because of this, Marine Biology degree programs typically offer students much more than just a curriculum. During your studies, you will likely have the option of working on group projects. This is an invaluable opportunity to gain hands on experience and possibly to travel. Depending on your areas of interest, you might conduct research in an aquatic wildlife preserve, in a coastal region or even on the high seas. These collaborative work experience also help students develop teamwork and communication skills, abilities that are vital in today’s workplace. For example, Florida Institute of Technology’s (FIT) Marine Biology department takes advantage of the school’s location near both the Atlantic Coast as well as the habitats of the Indian River Lagoon to provide students with firsthand research experience. FIT also has a flexible part-time program.

Earning your degree in Marine Biology can be a wonderful opportunity for those who love aquatic environments to apply their passion for their chosen field as well as build hard and soft skills for the workplace. Undergraduates might continue on in marine biology or branch out into biomedicine or become a marine veterinarian. Graduate programs can allow you to find your niche within marine biology to find your career path or further your career.  
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