Subject: career - marine biology

Dagmar Fertl (
Mon, 27 Sep 1999 05:54:06 PDT

Hello, my name is Rachel McCarty, I go to Silsbee High School. In my
environmental class, we had to pick a career in the science field. I found 
Marine Biology very interesting. I was wondering if I could ask you a few 

1. How many years do you have to go to college?
2. How many hours do you work a day?
3. Do you do a variety of work? If so please tell what it is.
4. What field of Marine Biology would you recommend to someone entering this 
5. What courses do you recommend taking when entering this career?

Thank-You very much for your help,

Hi Rachel, where is Silsbee High?  For additional information on marine 
biology and marine mammals, I would recommend that you check the WhaleNet 
site for its link to some really great sites that have information on 
careers and marine biology.  I'm happy to answer your questions though.

1. The amount of time you go to college depends on a few things. One, if you 
take a full load of classes and don't goof off too much, you can finish your 
undergraduate degree (bachelor's) in four years.  You could possibly get a 
job doing marine biology with just that degree, but more than likely you 
would need to go to graduate school for a Master's and possibly a PhD. Now, 
the length of time in graduate school depends if you get both the Master's 
and the PhD and what your project entails. Field projects, particularly 
those studying animal behavior, typically take a long time, because you have 
to deal with weather and equipment, etc. My own field work studying dolphins 
and shrimp boats took three years. I then also had some classes to take and 
to write up my findings (analyze data, etc). It took me 5 years to finish a 
Master's.  It probably would not be unheard of for a marine biologist to 
spend 13 years in college with undergrad and graduate schooling....scary, 

2. The length of my work day depends on where I am. When I'm in the office, 
I might be here for 8-9 hrs. When I'm on a boat, I might work up to 12 
hrs/day (and not get weekends off either!).

3. I do a wide variety of work thru the course of a year. I write 
environmental impact statements, do public education (about whales and 
dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, like WhaleNet), write scientific papers, 
talk to my fellow marine mammal biologists, go in the field and study whales 
and dolphins from a ship, etc. It just depends on what the project itself 

4. I think that it would be hard for me to recommend a field of marine 
biology. I think a person who wants to be a marine biologist needs to 
consider what they're interested in doing, how hard they want to work, and 
where they want to work, and how much money that they would like to make.

5. I would recommend in high school working hard on math, science, 
computers, and English, as well as geography.  In college, as an 
undergraduate, I recommend not focusing on marine biology, but getting a 
well-rounded background (maybe you might find something you're more 
interested in, or more talented in, than marine biology). This way, if you 
decide you don't want to be a marine biologist later on, you still have a 
good general degree to get a job with.

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