10 Steps to Become a Marine Biologist

There are several divisions of ocean study, such as Physical Oceanography, chemical oceanography, geological oceanography, biological oceanography, and of course, marine biology.  We at Under the Sea,  specialize in the education side of these fields but also participate in some research.  Here are a few suggestions on how you may pursue the goal of becoming a marine biologist or other kind of marine scientist:


  1. Read - I mean everything.  The more you know, the further you go.  Heck, if you fail to achieve the goal of Marine Biologist, at least you will be ready for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire!

  2. Bathe every day - no one likes a stinky person so remember -  ya ain't gonna work here smelling like that!  And brush your teeth, too!  Seriously, hygiene will aid you in getting any job.

  3. Take Notes - Every time you learn something new, into the note book it goes.  Every time you read a book, write down the title, author, and summary of the book, as well as things that you learned from the book and things you disagree with.

  4. Question statements - You won't believe how many books, especially kids' books, we have read that have misinformation.  If you have doubts about the information, do some research to find the truth, then, go back to suggestion #3.

  5. Expand your skills - It is important to be knowledgeable about your field of expertice but often, it is equally important to have other skills that may be useful at times.  Some of these skills may be navigation, boat handling, SCUBA diving, aquarium keeping, and animal collecting.  Be willing to learn.

  6. Keep an open mind - Do not concentrate on any one division of marine biology until you are in college.  We highly recommend that your undergraduate study (first years of college) be in biology and graduate studies be in marine biology.  You may find out that ocean science is not for you but if the majority of the courses you have taken are in that field, they will not transfer to another major.  Get a good biology and chemistry foundation and then start to take specialty courses.

  7. Learn to write and communicate well - Researchers have to publish their findings so writing is an indispensable skill.  

  8. Volunteer - Few people at Sea World or the Baltimore Aquarium started jobs without first volunteering.   Locally in the DC area there are many opportunities - The National Zoo, the Glen Echo Park Aquarium, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Nature Centers even Under the Sea accepts volunteers.  You will meet others with your ambitions and start to learn skills that will increase you chances of getting a job in a variety of ocean science fields.

  9. Talk to others - in the job field you are interested in and ask them what they did to get into their field.   

  10. Be curious - Curiosity may have killed the cat, but cats rarely train to be marine biologists!  The more you wonder, the more you'll work to find answers to your questions, and the more you'll learn!