How To Become A Marine Biologist In Australia: Explained

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Students want to know how to become marine biologists in Australia and their salary.


Are you considering a career in marine biology? Becoming a reputable marine biologist in Australia takes an arduous and long journey.


Obtaining a degree in marine biology is one of the best ways to achieve your professional objectives as a marine biologist. You will get to study zoology and other elements of biology.


Overall, your experience as a marine biology undergraduate student will show you how challenging and exciting this field is.


Additionally, a degree in marine biology enables you to learn about marine flora and fauna. This requires you to stay dedicated, persevere to attain the qualifications and emerge as a respectable and professional marine biologist.


Another essential factor to consider when pursuing a marine biologist degree is the university that offers the program. It is critical for a candidate to choose an institution that provides both theoretical and practical training.


Read the post below to learn how to become a marine biologist in Australia, including what to study, their salary, courses, jobs, and more.



1. What Does A Marine Biologist Do?


In marine biology, a marine biologist explores and studies creatures, including plants and animals. Generally, this field involves the study of plants and animals that live in salty water bodies.


A marine biologist has to conduct evaluations and observations to determine the health of an environment. They must also be curious to figure out what to do to restore habitat and marine life. Furthermore, tests and computations may be required, necessitating math skills.


It is a role that allows you to follow your interests and make your position as specialised as you want. Residing in Australia gives you access to some of the world's most diverse marine life, including the coral reefs of Western Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.


Not only that, but after becoming a marine biologist, you will be a part of plenty of things, like helping in the protection and rescue of the most endangered marine species in the world, discovering new corals, finding a new slime with excellent medicinal properties, and a lot more. You will explore the oceans, the world's last and most undiscovered places.


A typical day in the life of a marine biologist may entail collecting samples in the field. Or conduct data analysis in the lab. Continuous research, keeping up with the newest advances, designing studies, and writing research proposals are all part of the job. The fieldwork is crucial and may incorporate hours of snorkelling and diving.


For a marine biologist, it is essential to possess problem-solving skills to resolve any issues that may arise in the habitat. A marine scientist may also be in charge of habitat rehabilitation.


Additionally, they might have to publish papers based on their research, thus requiring excellent writing skills. A marine biologist must get all the work done according to scientific principles.


Communication skills are particularly crucial as a marine biologist may collaborate with other marine biologists. Other responsibilities of a marine biologist may include setting work schedules, hiring employees, and conducting employee assessments while managing a team.


In certain situations, a marine biologist might get a restricted budget; thus, prioritising within that budget is critical. A master's degree in biology or marine biology is often required to work as a marine biologist. However, some roles may only need an associate's degree.


Marine biologists usually work in a lab or a field, where they may get exposed to extreme weather conditions. They may also work with marine research institutes, universities, commercial companies, international organisations, not-for-profit organisations, government agencies, and more.



2. Major Duties and Tasks of a Marine Biologist


  • Plan and undertake experiments to measure, study, and understand marine plants and animals.

  • Provide data and suggestions to help create policies and programs for marine conservation and harvesting, including aquaculture.

  • Use statistical and numerical skills to design field and laboratory experiments.

  • Estimate the number of marine organisms and examine their population characteristics. 

  • Participate in research projects aiming at predicting the effects of proposed changes.

  • Give advice and assess effects, causes, and prevention and control of introduced species.

  • Offer advice to politicians, managers, healthcare workers, primary producers, and the general public.

  • Investigate the interrelationships between animals in their natural habitats, laboratories, and captivity.

  • Design and conduct environmental impact assessments to establish whether natural or human factors cause change.

  • Observe marine organisms' communities and discover the factors that influence their structure.

  • Prepare more comprehensive information for managerial, scientific, public, and political audiences and write scientific reports on research and investigations.

  • Provide research training to employees and students who want to work in this field.

  • Provide direction to help in the management of fisheries.

  • Develop long-term environmental pollution monitoring programs.


Note: Marine biologists must have a strong commitment and interest in marine ecosystems, outstanding communication skills and attention to detail.



3. Steps To Become A Marine Biologist In Australia


To be a marine biologist in Australia, you should focus on getting a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject. You can also consider earning a master's or doctoral degree, doing an internship, and obtaining any necessary training.


Follow the steps below to learn about becoming a marine biologist at various levels and get answers to questions like 'how many years of education do you need to be a marine biologist?'.



Step 1: Get Bachelor's Degree


You need a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions as a marine biologist.


Students can choose from various marine biology-related degrees, such as Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) and Bachelor of Environmental Science (Marine Biology). They can also choose to undertake any other course in the field of biology, specialising in marine biology.


Due to the hands-on nature of the profession, online marine biology colleges are uncommon. However, several reputed institutions in Australia offer a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology.


This three-year degree provides various hands-on learning opportunities through internships, laboratories, and research. 


The following subjects may be present in biologist courses:


  • Organism Diversity

  • Organic chemistry

  • Marine biology

  • Oceanography

  • Ecology



Step 2: Get A Master's Degree


master's degree usually allows marine biologists to start doing more investigative or advanced scientific work later in their careers.


At the master's level, you can choose from programs available, including degree programmes in Master of Science in Marine Science and Management or Master of Marine Engineering, and more.


Master's marine biology courses are called Master of Science degrees. Students who choose a master's degree program can begin focusing on a specific ecosystem species.


A postgraduate degree in marine biology incorporates hands-on learning experiences and extensive research, and it takes around two years to complete.



Step 3: Earn A Doctorate


A marine biologist who wants to undertake independent research or teach at a marine biologist university can pursue a PhD. You can pursue a doctorate in marine biology or a doctoral degree in a specific field, such as oceanography.


A doctorate program requires you to complete a bachelor's degree at least. It generally includes a dissertation and comprehensive examinations. Furthermore, it takes a minimum of three years to complete a full-time PhD in Marine Biology.



Step 4: Complete Your Training as a Marine Biologist


While formal training is not necessary, certain marine biologists may require training or experience in the field with different techniques and equipment. For instance, marine biologists may need to know how to operate a boat to research open water. 


Participating in research projects, internships, and volunteer work are common ways for marine biologists to get experience with diverse skills and techniques.



4. Career Opportunities For A Marine Biologist in Australia


Territory, state, and federal government departments employ marine biologists in Australia.


These departments may include AIMS (the Australian Institute of Marine Science), CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), environmental and resource departments, museums, and universities.


Some marine biologists work for fisheries, aquaculture industries, and environmental consultancy companies. Overall, the government and corporate sector regulate marine biologist jobs in Australia.


They are funding marine research, community awareness of environmental and conservation issues, and the occurrence of marine ecological problems.


After completing your education in the field of marine biology, one can pursue a variety of careers, as listed below:



A marine biologist can pursue various career options, many of which provide a high level of job satisfaction and pay well. However, to advance in your chosen profession, you must specialise in a particular area.


Fisheries biology, biodiversity, reef ecology, coastal management, and marine pollution are all attractive specialisations for marine biologists.



5. Skills Required To Become A Marine Biologist In Australia


Depending on your field of expertise, you will need the following skills to become a marine biologist in Australia:


  • High level of physical fitness for fieldwork.

  • Passion and thorough knowledge and understanding of the marine world.

  • Adaptability to live in modest living circumstances in minimalist surroundings, work in all weather conditions, and dwell aboard research boats.

  • Desire to educate and supervise students for academic university positions.

  • Attention to detail and accuracy for recording observations and results.

  • Strong teamwork skills to work in a laboratory, as part of a research team or an expedition team at sea.

  • Opportunism and drive to secure internships, work experiences, jobs, and volunteering.

  • Interest in travelling and living in another country for fieldwork.

  • Analytical and methodical mind for interpreting and analysing data.

  • Flexibility to work on various projects and short-term contracts with varying hours.

  • Laboratory skills include writing risk assessments, sequencing, and standard operating techniques if you work as a technician.

  • Interpersonal abilities to work with diverse individuals, from government officials and local fishermen to professors and activists.

  • Excellent communication skills for environmental impact assessments, report writing, grant applications, press releases, conference presentations, academic papers, and standing out in job interviews.

  • Strong IT and numeracy skills.

  • Experience in practical areas, such as boat handling, scuba diving, and first aid.

  • Willingness to stay updated with current marine research and information.

  • Desire to learn new things and make a difference for future generations.



6. How Much Does A Marine Biologist Make In Australia?


According to Payscale, a marine biologist's salary in Australia is between AU$44,000 and AU$111,000. The salary of a marine biologist in Australia may vary, depending on the location, skills, experience, and education level.


  • Education 

  • Their exact position and responsibilities involved in the role

  • Level of experience 

  • Where they work

  • Employer



Salary Based on Experience


  • Entry-level (<1-year experience): AU$53,000 per year

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$57,739 per year 

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$59,000 per year 

  • Experienced (10-19 years of experience): AU$97,880 per year

  • In their late career (20 years and above): AU$124,775 per year  




7. Types of Marine Biologists


Marine biology is a multidisciplinary and diverse field. Based on the specialisation, some common types of marine biologists include:


  • Marine Ecologists: They study the relationship between the marine environment and organisms.


  • Marine Microbiologists: They study the smallest organisms in the ocean and their role in marine ecosystems.


  • Marine Mammalogists: These biologists study marine mammals' behaviour, conservation, and distribution.


  • Marine Conservationists: These biologists develop conservation plans and implement policies to conserve marine ecosystems and the organisms living within them.


  • Marine Fisheries Biologists: This type of biologist studies fishes and how they interact with the marine environment.


  • Marine Biogeochemists: This biologist studies the ocean's chemical procedures, including pollution's effect on marine ecosystems.



8. Where Does A Marine Biologist Work?


Marine biologists usually work in controlled environments like laboratories to perform experiments and close observation.


Depending on their specialty, Marine biologists may involve fieldwork in or on the ocean, a beach, a salt marsh, or an estuary.


They may work on a boat and board ships, use a submersible vessel, or do scuba diving, snorkelling over reefs, and wading in ocean water to conduct underwater research to observe wildlife in their natural habitats and collect samples.


A few marine biologists are employed in medical settings to care for sick and injured marine animals. They may even research ways to use marine materials and plants in the pharmaceutical industry.



9. Potential Employers For Marine Biologists In Australia


Marine biologists can find work opportunities in both research and non-research settings. Some common employers for a marine biologist include:


  • Government agencies

  • Non-profit organisations 

  • Coastal and marine industries

  • Privately-owned businesses 

  • Non-research sector

  • Environmental groups

  • Fisheries Department

  • Tourism sector

  • Research and development organisations

  • Consulting agencies

  • Water authorities

  • Industries 

  • Aquariums

  • Zoos

  • Academia (Colleges and universities)



10. What Are The Pros and Cons of Being a Marine Biologist?


Marine biology is a mesmerising and rewarding field that offers numerous opportunities for individuals enthusiastic about studying the ocean and its inhabitants.


However, the profession has its share of positives and negatives to pursuing a career in marine biology.





  • From tiny plankton to gigantic whales, working with marine ecosystems and distinct species of marine organisms is a fascinating experience. 

  • With a good understanding of aquatic ecologies and their inhabitants, you play a vital role in positively impacting the environment. You may work to reinstate damaged or degraded ecosystems or lower the effect of human activities on the ocean.

  • From the polar ice caps to the ocean's depths, you can explore and study remote and uncharted areas of the planet. 





  • It is a highly competitive field with limited openings available for the number of qualified candidates.

  • There are challenges related to funding, especially in research and academic positions. 

  • Fieldwork in marine biology requires a lot of physical effort. You may have to work long hours on boats, travel to remote locations, adverse weather conditions, or risky underwater environments. 

  • Marine biologists may require staying away from home for extended periods, which can pose problems for those with families or other personal commitments.


Despite these drawbacks, it can be an exciting and fulfilling career if you are passionate about the ocean and committed to studying and conserving marine ecosystems.



11. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



How To Become A Marine Biologist in Australia Online?


You can study any of the below marine biology courses online in Australia. Various training institutes are offering these courses:


Certificate of Marine Biology


It is an online professional development program that familiarises students with various factors related to marine studies.


It covers several areas, including marine ecology systems, varieties of marine organisms, the function of reefs, and the effect of humans on marine environments.


Upon course completion, students will develop a sound knowledge of marine organisms that prepares them for a marine biology career.



Certificate in Marine Studies


It is another course to study marine biology online. It covers marine studies and Earth Science and prepares students to work in eco-tourism, research, or commerce. 



What Qualifications Do You Need To Be A Marine Biologist?


You usually need a qualification in biology, majoring in marine biology, to work in a Marine Biologist profession in Australia.


Standard courses include a Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology or a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Marine Biology).


Those with undergraduate qualifications can complete a Master's degree in marine biology, such as a Master of Science in Marine Science and Management.



Do Marine Biologists Make A Lot of Money?


Salaries vary substantially for marine biologists. While you'll earn a modest salary as an entry-level marine biologist, this should increase over time.


Though "Marine Biologist" is a modest-paying job, it is gratifying that marine biologists travel to beautiful places as part of their work and can positively impact science and the ecosystem while living their passion.


While most entry-level technician roles receive lesser pay on an hourly basis, their earnings may increase as they build experience and take on more responsibilities.


Marine biologists with postgraduate degrees can earn high salaries. Investing extra time in studies is a good idea if you seek a high-paying marine biology job.



Where Can I Study Marine Biology in Australia?


You can study marine biology at several renowned universities in Australia. Below are some of the universities, along with relevant marine biology courses:




How Many Years Does It Take To Study Marine Biology?


Aspiring Micro Biologists usually must complete an undergraduate university course specialising in Micro Biology.


The Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) is the ideal course for high school pass-outs to prepare to work in this profession. Usually, it takes three years of full-time study to complete the course.


If you want to enter the profession with a 3-4 year undergraduate qualification in another discipline, consider completing a postgraduate qualification majoring in Marine Biology. A 1.7-year full-time Master of Science in Marine Science and Management is the standard qualification.



How Much Does It Cost To Study marine Biology in Australia?


The study cost for marine biology courses varies between universities in Australia. Studying a Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) at Flinders University can cost you $8,355 in 2023. 



What ATAR Score Do You Need For Marine Biology?


Different universities may have different entry requirements, including ATAR. Usually, you need an ATAT between 70 to 80 to enter a Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) in Australia.




What is The Difference Between Zoology and Marine Biology?


Marine biology focuses exclusively on the Marine environment, i.e., the ocean, and not just the animals. It means that they study all the aspects of the marine environment, including aquatic plants, microorganisms like protozoa, climate, water quality, etc.


On the other hand, marine zoologists specifically study animal life, including their physiology, evolution, anatomy, and more.



Is 30 Years Too Old To Become A Marine Biologist?


You can get into a Marine Biologist profession at any age.


Most Marine Biologists come from diverse educational backgrounds, including Physiotherapy and English Literature, proving that you can enter this profession at any age!


As any role in Marine Biology requires a university qualification, lab, field, and volunteer experience, 30 can be the ideal age to start this career.



How Long Must You Go To Uni To Be A Marine Biologist?


It takes 3-year full-time study to complete an undergraduate qualification specialising in Marine Biology, i.e., Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology).


If you already hold a 3–4-year degree in another field, you would need a 1.7-year Master of Science in Marine Science and Management to pursue this profession in Australia.



What Type of Math Do You Need For Marine Biology?


Marine biologists require mathematical knowledge to solve a range of complex problems that entails gathering and analysing different forms of data. This data helps make theoretical models and estimates, to enact policy changes.


Marine biologists mostly use trigonometry and algebra to establish measurements. Moreover, the knowledge of geometry or trigonometry helps them determine the size of animals from a distance.


Additionally, they need a sound knowledge of measurement equivalents to convert between metric and standard units of measure.



Do Marine Biologists Only Study The Ocean?


Marine Biologists focus on studying aquatic organisms' biology, behaviour, and environmental relationships in their natural habitats.


However, besides studying the ocean, they may also perform other duties.


  • Examine the effect of human activities on marine ecosystems and ways to protect these ecosystems. 

  • Engage in marine mammal training.

  • Work with government agencies, local communities, and conservation organisations to create and implement conservation plans to lessen the influence of human activities on the marine environment.

  • Educate the public about the significance of marine conservation via presentations, reports, and articles.

  • Work with government agencies, fishing communities, etc., to develop policies and regulations to conserve and manage marine resources such as fish stocks, coastal habitats, and protected regions.



Which Subject Is Best For Marine Biologists?


To become a Marine Biologist in Australia, you need a bachelor's qualification in biology, specialising in marine biology.


However, to gain admission to these bachelor's degrees requires completing high school education in prerequisite subjects such as English, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology.



What Animals Fall Under Marine Biology?


Marine Biologists study various animals that populate the ocean, such as:


  • Marine Organisms - fish, crustaceans, molluscs, worms, turtles, squid, and microscopic animals

  • Marine Mammals - seabirds, seals, sea otters, manatees, whales, dolphins, etc.



Is a Marine Biologist The Same as A Marine Scientist?


To understand the difference, we need to assess what type of career marine biology and marine science.



Marine Biologists


  • National average salary: AU$ 66,000 per year

  • Marine biologists study ocean and saltwater ecosystems and their aquatic organisms and mammals. 

  • It enables them to analyse and advise the behaviours of marine species and the physiological processes, diseases, and environmental conditions that impact them. 



Marine Scientist


  • National average salary: AU$ 100,000 per year

  • Marine scientists study the ocean and the flora and fauna that live in them. 

  • Their main job is to gather ocean samples, perform advanced scientific research, publish their conclusions in academic journals, and help policymakers with marine conservation and environmental protection activities. 

  • They also attend conferences to discuss their research discoveries with other scientists and educate them on the organic sciences. Their common areas for work include environmental protection groups, marine conservation establishments, the government sector, and sustainable fisheries.



Is it Hard To Become A Marine Biologist in Australia?


Marine Biology is a small field, with only 670 professionals employed in this profession in Australia. It indicates intense competition for any open positions.


Due to this, earning a postgraduate degree is common to pursue the career as it can enhance your possibilities of landing a marine biologist role.


Also, the average ATAR for a bachelor of science majoring in marine biology is around 80.05, higher than the average ATAR of 70.00. It can be challenging for students to qualify for the course.



Are Marine Biologists in Demand in Australia?


Considering that the world's oceans cover more than 70% of the earth's surface, Marine Biologists are crucial for the survival of our planet. Their knowledge helps the world better understand oceans and their complicated issues.


It is a small and highly competitive occupation as several aspiring Marine biologists compete for a limited number of jobs. Candidates with advanced computer and math skills have the upper hand in the job market.


Marine biologists can work in several sectors and sub-fields of marine biology based on their education and specialty. Though industry jobs depend on the economy and market demand, the field can provide you with a rewarding career in the industry of your choice.



How To Become A Marine Biologist in Australia From Overseas?


Most universities in Australia offer Marine Biology courses, i.e., Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) for international students.


However, the prerequisite for Year 12 students to apply for the course is to undertake an English test and have either Australian Year 12 curriculum or Australian Tertiary Admission Rank.


Moreover, overseas applicants must provide additional application information such as country of birth and passport details when applying for the course.



How Long Does It Take To Become A Marine Biologist in Australia?


There are several pathways to becoming a Marine Biologist in Australia. So, the time required to pursue this career depends on the learning pathway you choose:



Pathway 1 – After High School


You can complete a Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology). It takes three years full-time if you study for a BSc degree or four years for a BSc [Hons] qualification.


A part-time study option is also available sometimes, but it takes double the time to complete. Upon course completion, you can apply for entry-level marine biologist jobs.



Pathway 2- After Graduation


You can also study for a Marine Biologist course if you already have 3- or 4-year undergraduate qualifications. In this case, you must complete a 1.7-year Master's degree in marine biology, such as a Master of Science in Marine Science and Management.



Pathway 3- Through TAFE courses


Students may also qualify for a marine biology degree after studying relevant courses at TAFE or an accredited training institution and advancing to an undergraduate Marine Biology degree program.


Now that you know everything about how to become a marine biologist in Australia, you are ready to explore this field and start the career of your dreams.


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