Marine Biologist Salary: How Much Does a Marine Biologist Make and How to Kick Off Your Career as a Marine Biologist?

William Miller

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a marine biologist, you’ll be happy to know that the average marine biologist salary is quite high. However, there can be a lot of variation depending on which state you work in. Read on to find out more!

Marine biology is a very interesting and exciting field to work in, and the demand for qualified professionals is only going to continue to grow in the years ahead. However, not all states offer the same level of pay. In this article, we will take a look at which states offer the best marine biologist salaries, as well as provide some additional information about what this profession entails.

Marine Biologist Job Description

Marine biologists conduct research on all aspects of marine life, including the behavior and ecology of marine animals, the effects of pollution on marine ecosystems, and the conservation and management of marine resources. They may work in academic or government settings, as well as in private industry or non-profit organizations. Marine biologists typically have a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field, and many also hold a master’s degree or doctorate.


There are a number of different specializations within marine biology. One common specialization is fishery science, which focuses on studying fish populations and fishing practices. Another is oceanography, which investigates the physical and chemical properties of the ocean. There is also a growing field of marine conservation, which works to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.

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Work Environment

The majority of marine biologists work in research laboratories or offices, where they conduct experiments and analyze data. They may also work in field settings, such as estuaries, coral reefs, or open ocean environments. Marine biologists who work in field settings may be required to travel to remote locations. Some marine biologists may also work in zoos or aquariums, where they help care for aquatic animals and educate the public about ocean life. Others may work on ships or oil rigs, conducting research or monitoring environmental conditions.

Becoming a Marine Biologist

There are many paths one can take to become a marine biologist. A common route is to first obtain a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field, and then complete a master’s degree or doctorate in marine biology. Alternatively, some students may choose to pursue a more specific undergraduate degree in marine science before moving on to graduate school. There are also a number of professional programs that offer training in marine biology, although these typically require several years of experience working in the field. Whichever route you choose, it is important to gain as much experience as possible working with marine life and conducting research before pursuing a career in marine biology.


The average salary for a marine biologist is $64,000 per year. This works out to around $32 an hour, and roughly 5,300 a month. However, salaries can vary depending on experience, education, location, and employer.

By Employer

Marine biologists who work in government agencies or research laboratories typically earn the highest salaries.

Those who work in zoos or aquariums may earn less. The lowest-paid marine biologists are typically those who work on ships or oil rigs.

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By Location

The state of Massachusetts offers the highest average salary for marine biologists, estimating at $93,000 per year. This is followed by the state of New Jersey, which has an average salary of $86,000 per year; Alaska, which offers an annual wage of over $82,000; and Washington and Maryland, where marine biologists can expect to be paid $81,000 a year.

At the other end of the spectrum, the state of Maine offers the lowest median marine biologist salary, at $50,000 per year. This is followed by the state of Alaska, which has an average salary of $52,000 per year. These states also have high costs of living, so marine biologists in these states may not take home as much money as those in other states with lower average salaries but lower costs of living.

Job Outlook

Overall, the job outlook for marine biologists is positive. There is expected to be a steady growth in the field for zoologists and wildlife biologists, which includes marine biologists, with an estimated 4% increase in jobs between 2019 and 2029 (data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019-2029 Occupational Outlook Handbook). Many of these positions will likely be found in research and development or in environmental consulting firms. Marine biologists may also find work teaching at the collegiate level or working for museums or aquariums.


Marine biologists can expect to earn a good salary, with the average marine biologist salary being $64,230 per year. However, there is a lot of variation depending on experience, education, location, and employer. The states with the highest average marine biologists salaries are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The states with the lowest average marine biologists salaries are Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, and South Dakota. So, what do you think? Are you planning to get a marine biologist job? Let us know!

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