Career questions

From: Dagmar Fertl (
Date: Wed Mar 29 2000 - 09:54:17 EST

hi, i'm doing a research paper about marine mammologists. could you please
answer some questions about your job for me? here they are....

1. what knowledge and skills are required to be successful in your job?
2. where does one get training for this job?
3. what were the most useful subjects you took in high school?
4. how do you use computers in your job?
5. describe a typical day on your job.
6. what is the range of salaries for people in this career?
7. is there overtime pay for extra hours?
8. what kind of job security do you have? is there a high turnover or
stability in this career? why?
9. what motivated you to enter this career area?
10. what aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
11. what aspects of your job do you dislike the most?

thank you for your time.
I know this particular question has been answered by me and the other
invited marine mammalogists at WhaleNet. I recommend that you search thru
the archives to look at past responses. Also within WhaleNet links is the
following link:
that link gives career strategy information about the field of marine
mammalogy and answers almost all of the questions you listed above. I'll
still answer your questions, but you really should take some time to check
out the other information I listed above.

1. This pretty much depends on what your job entails. I write environmental
impact statements for the U.S. government. I need to know about whales,
dolphins, and manatees for my job. Not just their biology, but also about
human impacts on these animals in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world.
This means I need to keep track of information collected by other scientists
which applies to my job. I need to be able to communicate well - both via
writing and speaking. I also need to be able to do basics with a computer.
My job also entails needing to determine what kind of research the office
should fund, to answer important questions that the office has about effects
of oil and gas exploration and drilling activities on marine mammals, as
well as sea turtles (which is my other responsibility at the office).

2. There is no real 'training' for the job. A lot of what you learn is by
actual 'doing' - meaning time in the field and going to conferences to learn
about the research of others. One good thing about working for the
government is that you have many opportunities for training classes,
including classes on environmental impact statement writing, effective
communication, etc. But, those training classes don't teach me about marine

3. Wow, high school was a long time ago now. I would say biology and English
classes were the most helpful. I was lucky enough to go to a school that
also offered a marine biology class. But, for what I do, definetely the
English classes were the most helpful.

4. For my particular job, I use a computer for word processing. Computers at
our office, in general, are also used for databases, spreadsheets, GIS
(mapping), modelling, etc. Also, we use the computers a lot for email and

5. I'm not sure there's really a 'typical' day at the office. Depends if I'm
on a ship doing field work, or if I'm inside the office (which is where I
spend the bulk of my day). I may go to meetings, work on public outreach
projects, stay in touch with colleagues to find out about their research,
read research papers, and write environmental impact statements.

6. Range of salaries is listed in the career strategies link I mentioned
above. The more education you have, theoretically, the higher the salary you
can expect. It also depends on what you do at your job. People who spend
time at sea on boats typically make less money (but probably have a lot more
fun) than people in office or teaching situations.

7. At my job, there is no overtime pay, since I'm paid a yearly salary.
Sometimes, I can get 'overtime' hours, which means vacation hours back for
the extra time working at the office. There are some people, though, who
bring work home with them, or stay late at the office, and don't get paid
overtime. When you are at sea, you have many overtime hours and do not get
paid for those.

8. I'm lucky in that respect, since I work for the federal government. My
job is labelled as 'permanent' which means that I more than likely have good
job security. Also, there is always a demand at this office for a marine
mammal biologist to do environmental impact statement work, since marine
mammals are protected species and there is great concern for them. There
has been a high turnover with my particular position, and that comes from
scientists wanting to spend more time in the field doing actual research,
instead of sitting at a desk. Other marine mammalogists working at other
places may have great job instability, since their positions depend on
whether the project they are working on can get funded.

9. I assume you mean specifically workig on marine mammals. I am interested
in this career because I want to make a difference. I want to help ensure
that we continue to protect marine mammals and sea turtles, and that they
will be around for future generations to enjoy. Marine mammals and sea
turtles are also very important for maintenance of healthy ecosystems.

10. I like being able to educate people about marine mammals and get people
excited about them and to care about them. I like feeling like I might be
able to help protect and conserve them.

11. Office politics and that people don't get along with each other, and of
course, meetings.

Good luck with the project!
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