Marine biology is the scientific study of organisms that live in salt water. So, a marine biologist is a person that studies, or works with a salt water organism (or organisms).
That is a fairly brief definition for a very general term, as marine biology encompasses many things. Marine biologists may work for private businesses, in a non-profit organization, or at a university or college. They may spend most of their time outdoors, such as on a boat, underwater, or working among tide pools, or they may spend much of their time indoors in a laboratory or aquarium.
Some jobs that a marine biologist would do include:
- Working with whales, dolphins or pinnipeds in an aquarium or zoo
- Working in a rescue/rehabilitation facility
- Studying smaller organisms like sponges, nudibranchs or microbes and using them to learn about neuroscience and medicine
- Studying shellfish and the best way to raise animals like oysters and mussels in an aquaculture environment.
- Studying a particular marine species or behavior and teaching at a university or college.
Depending on the type of work they'd like to do, there may be extensive education and training required to be a marine biologists. Marine biologists usually need many years of education - at least a bachelor's degree, but sometimes a Ph.D. or post-doctorate degree. Since jobs in marine biology are competitive, outside experience with volunteer positions, internships and outside study are helpful. In the end, a marine biologist's salary may not reflect their years of schooling as well as say, a doctor's salary. This site indicates an average salary of $45,000-$110,000 for a marine biologist working in an academic world.
Click here to learn more about what marine biologists do, where they work, how to become a marine biologist, and what marine biologists get paid.