Polygence blog / Education and College Admissions

What Can You Do With a Marine Biology Degree?

9 minute read

Imagine diving into crystal-clear waters, surrounded by colorful coral reefs, dolphins, and funny-looking sea creatures. If you've always been curious about the ocean's mysteries, a degree in marine biology might be the perfect educational path for you!

Exploring the Wonders of Marine Biology

Marine biology is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the study of marine organisms and their ecosystems. With a marine biology degree, you gain knowledge about the vast world that exists within our oceans, including the intricate dynamics of marine life, the delicate balance of marine ecosystems, and the impact of human activities on these fragile environments. Though marine biology is typically an area of study most high schools do not offer, there are ways teens interested in the field can set themselves up for success in pursuing marine biology in the future.

A proven college admissions edge

Polygence alumni had a 92% admissions rate to R1 universities in 2023. Polygence provides high schoolers a personalized, flexible research experience proven to boost your admission odds. Get matched to a mentor now!"

13 Marine Biology Degree Jobs

With a degree in marine biology, there are many directions you can take, professionally. These are some of the potential marine science jobs available to those with marine biology graduates.

1. Research and Conservation

Marine biologists conduct scientific research to understand various aspects of marine life, contributing to the conservation and preservation of our oceans. These professionals explore marine organisms' behavior, adaptation, and evolution, studying everything from microorganisms to large marine mammals. By investigating these areas, marine biologists can better understand the impacts of climate change, pollution, and marine habitat degradation. They can develop strategies for the protection and sustainable management of marine resources.

2. Marine Ecologist

The Marine ecosystem is a fragile and complex network of organisms, habitats, and environmental factors. As a marine ecologist, your role would involve studying the interactions between different marine organisms and their environment. This could include analyzing factors such as nutrient cycling, predator-prey relationships, and the effects of global warming on marine populations. Understanding these intricate relationships is crucial when devising strategies for preserving marine biodiversity.

Meet marine biology research mentor Dallas!

3. Fisheries Biologist

Have you ever wondered about the sustainability of our ocean's fisheries? Fisheries biologists tackle this important issue by studying fish populations, their behavior, and the impact of fishing practices. With this knowledge, they can help develop strategies for sustainable fishing practices, establishing regulations that balance the needs of both human communities and marine ecosystems.

4. Marine Educator

Marine biology isn't just about research and conservation; it's also about educating and inspiring others. As a marine educator, you can share your passion for marine life with others, whether through school programs, aquariums, or nature centers. By teaching young minds about marine biology, you can help foster future generations of marine scientists and advocates for ocean conservation.

Through Polygence, high school students can work with a research mentor to learn about marine education and how the media talks about marine conservation.

Making a difference starts with you

Interested in Environmental Science? We'll match you with an expert mentor who will help you explore your next project.

5. Marine Biotechnologist

Did you know that marine organisms have unique properties that can be harnessed for various applications? As a marine biotechnologist, you can explore the potential of marine organisms for advancements such as pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, and biofuel production. By studying marine organisms' genetic makeup and their biochemical processes, you can unlock a world of possibilities for sustainable technological advancements.

6. Marine Mammal Trainer

If working closely with marine mammals is your dream, a career as a marine mammal trainer could be the perfect fit. Marine mammal trainers work in aquariums, marine parks, and research institutions, where they train and care for animals such as dolphins, seals, and whales. This rewarding career allows you to build strong relationships with these intelligent creatures while also contributing to research and education initiatives.

7. Marine Policy Specialist

Do you have a passion for environmental advocacy and shaping policies? With a marine biology degree, you can become a marine policy specialist and play a vital role in shaping legislation and regulations to protect marine animals and the marine environment. These professionals work in government agencies, non-profit organizations, and research institutions, using scientific knowledge to influence decision-making processes and promote sustainable practices.

Meet marine biology research mentor Lindsey!

8. Marine Archaeologist

Combine your love for history and marine biology by pursuing a career as a marine archaeologist. These professionals explore underwater archaeological sites, searching for artifacts and remnants of past civilizations. By studying these findings, marine archaeologists piece together historical narratives and contribute to our understanding of human history and the interactions between humans and our oceans.

9. Marine Photographer/Videographer

If you have an artistic eye and a love for visual storytelling, a career as a marine photographer or videographer allows you to capture the beauty and diversity of marine life. Through stunning visuals, you can raise awareness about marine conservation issues and inspire others to appreciate and protect our oceans. Whether working for wildlife documentaries, magazines, or as an independent freelancer, this career path combines creativity with a passion for marine biology.

10. Marine Geneticist

The study of genetics opens up a world of possibilities in marine biology. Marine geneticists investigate the genetic makeup of marine organisms, helping us understand their evolution, adaptation, and ecological roles. This knowledge can contribute to the development of conservation strategies, the identification of endangered species, and the assessment of genetic diversity within marine populations.

Meet marine biology research mentor Dominique!

11. Marine Scientific Illustration

If you have a talent for art and a keen eye for scientific accuracy, a career in marine scientific illustration might be a great fit. Marine scientific illustrators create detailed and visually accurate representations of marine organisms, habitats, and biological processes. Their work is used in scientific publications, educational materials, and exhibits to help convey complex ideas and enhance our understanding of marine life.

12. Marine Policy Analyst

Marine policy analysts bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and policy implementation. By analyzing and interpreting scientific data, they provide policymakers with valuable information to support evidence-based decision-making. This career requires a deep understanding of marine science, as well as excellent communication and analytical skills to effectively communicate complex scientific concepts to policymakers and stakeholders.

13. Marine Conservation Officer

If you have a passion for hands-on conservation work, becoming a marine conservation officer allows you to actively protect and manage marine ecosystems. These officers collaborate with local communities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations to develop and implement conservation strategies. Their responsibilities may include monitoring marine habitats, conducting research, and promoting sustainable practices to ensure the long-term health and vitality of our oceans.

How Can a High School Student Prepare to Pursue a Degree in Marine Biology?

Students interested in getting a marine biology degree in college can begin setting the foundation for their own success by deepening their understanding of the natural sciences. This can be accomplished by taking advantage of courses offered by your high school and seeking out additional opportunities to explore science.

Working with a mentor on a research or passion project gives high school students the chance to learn directly from experts in their field. Polygence programs are designed to provide this opportunity for students. In the Core program, high school students are matched with a research mentor to work with one-on-one as they explore an area of interest.

Marine Biology related research projects completed by Polygence students

Here are three examples of projects Polygence student alumni have completed with research mentor guidance and support:

Marine Biology project ideas for high school students

Efficacy of marine protected areas

Marine protected areas have the potential to guide sustainable resource management, but current approaches can be ineffective for a variety of reasons. In this project, a student will develop a framework to map, model, and implement an effective marine protected area.

Idea by marine biology research mentor Daisy

A Reef's Best Frenemies

Coral reefs are in global decline and "coral bleaching" is one of the primary causes. Coral bleaching is the breakdown in the partnership between the coral animal and tiny, symbiotic algae that live within its cells. However, there is still a lot of mystery in understanding how this relationship works. In this project, a student would review existing literature on the symbiotic partnership to try to identify factors that can predict bleaching and thermal resilience.

Idea by marine biology research mentor Carly

Fact-checking marine media

We see so much information online, and most of it is presented as fact. But can we believe the Internet when it says blobfish don't have bones? (No, we can't, because they do have bones!) In this project, a student will learn how to approach media critically, develop their research skills, and communicate their findings to others.

Idea by marine biology research mentor Emma S

Dolphins and sonar: how do sounds in the ocean affect dolphins?

Some marine animals use echolocation and make human-made noises in the ocean environment. (e.g., made by ships and technological instruments) may compromise their ability to hear and echolocate. In this project, a student would conduct research to understand the consequences of human noise pollution on marine life and how it impacts the way dolphins interact with one another.

Idea by marine biology research mentor Madelin

Polygence Scholars Are Also Passionate About

Begin Your Journey Toward Earning a Degree in Marine Biology

A marine biology degree opens the door to a wide range of exciting career paths. Whether you have a love for research and conservation, a passion for studying marine ecosystems, or a desire to make a positive impact on our oceans, there are countless opportunities available showcasing a range of skill sets. Dive into the unknown, and let the wonders of marine biology spark your curiosity and ignite your future!