How to Become an Aquatic Biologist

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Aquatic biology is a subfield of biology that focuses on the study of a variety of organisms living in water. Aquatic biologists are biological scientists that specialize in examining many different microorganisms, plants, and organisms that live in water habitats.


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What does an aquatic biologist do?

Aquatic biologists study living things that live in many different types of bodies of water such as oceans, lakes, marshes, ponds, and other aquatic environments. They examine many different living organisms including plankton, snails, worms, mussels, clams, and bacteria living in water. They study environmental conditions and how organisms interact with their environment and other organisms. Many aquatic biologists also study how human expansion and increase in construction affects living organisms. Many are advocates for conserving wetlands and other water environment. Many assist in the development of regulations, policies, and guidelines concerning environmental protection. Aquatic biologists usually work for government agencies, zoos, aquariums, or private companies.

What kind of training does an aquatic biologist need?

Aquatic biologists typically need a doctorate degree in biology or related field. A master degree may be sufficient for some positions. Many colleges and universities offer a variety of programs for aspiring aquatic biologists. Prospective aquatic biologists often complete courses in biology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics. Many aquatic biologists complete internships while pursuing their education to gain practical experience in the field. Many also complete postdoctoral work to acquire specialized skills. Aquatic biologists often complete continuing education and additional training throughout their careers to keep their skills up to date and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as an aquatic biologist?

Employment of aquatic biologists is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 21% from 2008 to 2018 (1).

Job prospects should be good with some competition for research positions. Aquatic biologists with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities. Some job openings will result from the need to replace aquatic biologists that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do aquatic biologists make?

As of April 2010, aquatic biologists with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $35,548 and $46,168. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $40,223 and $64,856 (2).

A career as an aquatic biologist is an excellent choice for individuals with a strong interest in focusing on a variety of species that live in the water. Aquatic biologists must have a solid understanding of many different types of water organisms as well as a variety of research methods. Patience, self-discipline, detail orientation, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Aquatic biologists must have good communication and interpersonal skills and ability to work effectively independently as well as part of a team. They must also be able to work in a variety of water habitats in sometimes less desirable conditions.

Joshua T Osborne

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