How to become a Marine Biologist

Marine biologists study the origin, structure, functions and behaviour of all forms of life in the sea and connected estuaries, rivers and lakes, as well as their relationships with each other and the environment.

Personal requirements of a Marine Biologist

  • Interested in the marine environment and its inhabitants
  • Analytical and problem-solving ability
  • Good written communication skills
  • Good mathematics skills
  • Able to work as part of a team

Education & Training for a Marine Biologist

To become a marine biologist you usually have to study marine or environmental biology, marine science, marine environment or a related field at university. You may also consider major streams that emphasise marine biology, such as aquaculture. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry, earth and environmental science, biology and physics are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Marine Biologist

Marine biologists:

  • estimate the number of marine organisms and analyse their population features
  • observe communities of marine organisms and determine the factors influencing their structure
  • assess and advise on the causes, effects, prevention and control of introduced species
  • use numerical and statistical skills to design laboratory and field experiments
  • design and carry out environmental impact assessments to determine whether change is caused by natural or human factors
  • participate in studies aimed at predicting the effects of proposed developments
  • develop long-term programs for monitoring environmental pollution
  • provide guidance to help manage fisheries
  • provide information and recommendations for the development of marine conservation and harvesting policies and programs, including aquaculture
  • write scientific reports on research and investigations, and prepare more general information for scientific, managerial, political and general audiences
  • provide advice to managers, politicians, primary producers, healthcare workers and the general public
  • provide research training for students and staff seeking entry to this field.

Working conditions for a Marine Biologist

Marine biologists may be required to work both in a laboratory and for extended periods at sea or on shore-based field stations. Fieldwork may include working on commercial fishing vessels, on small inshore vessels or scuba diving. In many cases, much of the work of marine biologists involves office work, research, writing reports and long hours in laboratories.

Employment Opportunities for a Marine Biologist

Marine biologists are employed by state, territory and federal government departments such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), resource and environmental departments, as well as universities and museums. Some marine biologists also work in the aquaculture and fisheries industries or in environmental consulting firms. Job opportunities depend on the level of funding for marine research from governments and private industry, the occurrence of marine ecological problems and community awareness of environmental and conservation issues.


Marine Ecologist

A marine ecologist studies the interrelationships between marine organisms and their environment.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT 1.7%

NSW 11.2%

NT 2.6%

QLD 33%

SA 8.2%

TAS 12.4%

VIC 7%

WA 24.1%

Hours worked:



Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 60%

Female 40%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 0.5%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 0.9%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 1.7%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 37.8%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 59.2%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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