Marine biology involves the study of life in the oceans. Someone holding a Ph.D. in this field studies various kinds of marine life, writes about his findings, heads up research projects, and teaches others (generally as a professor in a university setting). The average salary of a marine biologist can range from $33,000 all the way up to $140,000, or about $2,750 to $11,667 a month, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A marine biologist's salary can vary greatly based on a number of factors.
Even with a Ph.D., a marine biologist who just graduated should not expect to jump right into a high-paying job. After earning their degrees, many students go through several years of post-doctoral training in research labs or universities. This gives them time to gain experience and publish some of their work before heading out as independent researchers or professors and potentially earning larger salaries.
The average wage for any job can vary depending on where a person lives and works, and it's no different for marine biologists. Living and working in a very large, expensive city may net a bigger salary, as opposed to residing and working in a small seaside town where job availability and cost of living are much lower. Where you live will also affect the size and funding of the projects you work on. If you want to earn more money, consider the average cost of living in various places, as this often corresponds with the amount of money you will earn there. Keep in mind: The higher the salary and the more glamorous the location, the tougher your competition will be for any marine biologist position.
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Particular Area of Interest
The area of marine biology you focus on will directly affect your salary, no matter how much education you have. For example, a marine biologist studying the eating habits of underwater sea worms won't earn as much as a biologist studying the potential cancer-curing agents of sea slug genes.
Your salary will be affected by your specific job and your specific job title and role. A university professor possessing a Ph.D. can make $30 an hour or more, which is upwards of $4,500 a month; but top-notch marine biologists specializing in biochemistry can earn almost $12,000 a month. At the lower end of the scale, some wildlife biologists only earn about $55,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A marine biologist with a Ph.D. can perform any of these jobs, so the actual position he gets and the company he works for will ultimately determine his monthly salary.