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, with Indeed.com reporting an average salary of $50,307. Information from the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which places marine biologists under the category of zoologists and wildlife biologists, places the average at $64,650 per year. A marine biologist's salary can vary greatly based on a number of factors.
Experience Needed for Marine Biologists
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.
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This prepares them for their role and improves their marketability as they look for a job. In addition, it gives them plenty of time to gain experience and publish some of their work before heading out as independent researchers or professors and potentially earning larger salaries.
Location Impacts Marine Biologist Salary
Are you wondering, how much do marine biologists make? The average wage for any job can vary depending on where a person lives and works, and it's no different for a marine biologist salary. 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.
Area of Interest and Role
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. This is because the former provides information with less application by companies that can afford to pay for that data. The latter would be hugely useful for pharmaceutical and medical companies that want to improve the life-saving treatments they offer.
In addition, your salary as a marine biologist will be affected by your specific job and your specific job title and role. The BLS explains that life scientists in this field may earn $81,890, while a marine biologist working in a zoological capacity is more likely to earn $64,660. A marine biologist with a Ph.D. can also be a college professor, but their rate of pay will vary based on whether they have tenure or are just working in an adjunct capacity. The BLS explains that a postsecondary teacher (like a college professor) may earn an average of $79,640 per year.
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. To calculate a monthly salary, simply divide these annual salaries by the number of months worked. Keep in mind that some positions, like that of a college professor, may not be a 12-month-per-year role.