4 answers

What's the best route to becoming a marine biologist (or working in the marine science/research field) while living in a non-coastal state?

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I am a Biology major and I am really interested in the marine science/research field. I applied for an internship for marine research in Cape Eleuthera and was unfortunately declined due to competitiveness. I'd really appreciate any advice anyone can give me that has experience in this field! Such as knowing what sort of degree is required, salary, job outlook, career options, how to stand out on an application, etc. Thanks! #biology #marine-biology #science #research #career

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Natasha’s Answer

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The good thing is that you are willing to move (since you had applied to an international program). Consider U.S. communities that are deeply invested in marine life as it is linked to their environment as well as livelihood/economies. Look at the U.S. map and consider locations that invest in understanding their coasts and the life that they support; Florida, California, Maine, South Carolina, Massachusetts, to name a few.

I was thinking of how one might link marine biology to our food supply chain or services such as tourism.

Perhaps some large companies hire scientists to monitor the nearby ecosystem or maintain quality assurance vis a vis their industries.
Think of seafood organizations, they most likely care very much about marine biology and might have teams that conduct research: https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/supply-trade/the-top-10-north-american-seafood-suppliers?content%5Bb1a7c925-1ed6-4bc4-ab97-58e281440ce3%5D=9
Consider resorts (or other types of companies) with a global presence and for which marine biology is a crucial part of their brand and business model: https://www.sandsresorts.com/

Additionally, take a look at National Geographic, as they have initiatives that are linked to marine ecology. Perhaps you can contact NatGeo for recommendations or information on fellowships: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/student-expeditions/interests/marine-biology/

Since you are already thinking globally, spend time researching sectors and companies that are deeply motivated to have marine biology as a core process in their value proposition. Lastly, extend you net beyond the Atlantic Ocean; for instance, consider places like Malaysia or Indonesia for a fellowship or career opportunity if it exists, even if for a few months/years in order to gain the experience and build a professional network.


Good Luck & Stay Well,
Natasha
Natasha, this is really great advice! I hadn't spent time looking into companies that indirectly work with marine research. Thanks so much! Sarah H.
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Caroline’s Answer

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Hi Sarah,
While I’m not a marine biologist myself, I can tell you that in order to make yourself more competitive on applications, you will need to show a demonstrated interest in the subject as best you can. While drawing attention to the fact that you do not have access to coastal waters, are you able to pursue research with a professor who studies local waters in your area who might be able to guide you as you start out?

From my experience, the things done early on that show you are doing whatever you can to make your dream happen are what make you stand out. Though the dream may not be studying local lakes and ponds, it may be the best way to get your start and demonstrate clear action toward your goal when you apply for your next coastal internship (and keep applying wherever you can!) All experience is good experience.
Thank you so much! I actually just spoke with my ecology professor about conducting research with her in the fall, so I appreciate your response! Sarah H.
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Elizabeth’s Answer

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Disclaimer: I'm not a marine biologist either. :) But I wanted to weigh in because I used to be a marketing intern at a company in Tennessee, and one of the company's key corporate social responsibility initiatives was ocean conservation research. You may be interested in finding a position at a company with a similar focus; perhaps an internship in public relations, corporate affairs, etc. to give you some exposure to the field.

There are also marine biology-focused non-profits that may give you good experience. The first one that comes to mind is Oceana, which I believe is headquartered in D.C.

Hope this is helpful! Best of luck!
Thanks so much for the advice! I'll definitely look into Oceana. Sarah H.
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JON’s Answer

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Hi,
Easy! Become a freshwater marine biologist. My uncle was one at the University of Michigan and worked 'in' Lake Michigan. There are many opportunities in the Great Lakes.
Good luck!
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