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Marine biologist

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Summary of occupation

Marine biologists perform many varied tasks depending on their area of specialisation and the area they are working in. As part of research they could estimate numbers of marine animals, study communities of marine organisms or assess the effect of introduced species. They may develop programs for monitoring pollution and provide information on marine conservation. They will spend time preparing scientific reports and papers. They may also be involved in teaching and giving advice to managers, politicians, primary producers and the public.

ANZSCO description: Studies the anatomy, physiology, functions, characteristics, behaviour and environments of all forms of life living in the sea and connected water bodies.
Alternative names:
Specialisations: Biomedical, Molecular Biology
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A marine biologist needs to have:

  • a keen interest in research
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • an analytical mind and a logical approach to problem solving
  • good observation skills
  • to be able to swim and scuba dive
  • to be able to work independently or as part of a team.
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Working conditions

Marine biologists would usually work a fairly typical work week. However, weekend work may also be required, for example when conducting experiments during field work. Marine biologists also work in an office or laboratory environment when preparing reports and papers. They will also spend time in rivers, the ocean or along the shore. This may involve time on fishing vessels or scuba diving.

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Salary details

On average, marine biologists, classified under life scientists, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a marine biologist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Marine biologists must be familiar with the technology associated with their particular specialisation. They need to be capable of conducting experiments, typically in a laboratory, to complete the research process. They may also need to be able to skipper a boat and scuba dive.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a marine biologist you usually need to study a science degree with a major in marine science, coastal and marine science, marine and freshwater biology or a related field.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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