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3Aug
August 3rd, 2010,

by Noel Rozny
myFootpath Web Editor & Content Manager

Ah yes, August is here. The dog days of summer are upon us. And for many, a long-awaited TV event finally arrives: Shark Week on Discovery Channel.

If Jaws scared you so much that you still refuse to go in the water, Shark Week provides another look at these amazing animals, the oceans they live in, and how humans are threatening their survival. (That’s right. Believe it or not, we pose a much bigger risk to them than they do to us.) It also gives viewers a chance to see the amazing marine biology professionals who study, observe, and even swim with sharks in action.

Whether or not you’re ready to don a wet suit and jump into a shark cage, Shark Week highlights marine biology careers of all sorts. Here’s a look at our favorite careers that can put you at the forefront of marine study and conservation.

Marine Biology Careers

If watching Shark Week makes you want to don a snorkel mask, hop into a boat, and study the nocturnal feeding habits of a lemon shark, you should look into become a marine biologist.

Marine biologists are the scientists who study the plants, animals and bacteria that make up the ocean’s delicate and elaborate ecosystem. In addition to being familiar with other principles of oceanography, such as chemical oceanography and physical oceanography, most marine biologists focus on one specific species to study throughout their career.

What you’ll need to get started:
You will need a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology, or a related field to get started. From there, you’ll also need to pursue a master’s and/or a doctorate degree.

Aquatic Scientist Careers

Do you love research? Do you want to be on the brink of environmental studies that can protect and preserve our oceans, lakes, and rivers? You may want to consider a career as an aquatic scientist.

Similar to marine biologists, aquatic scientists study literally everything about the water that covers much of our planet, from the chemical make-up to the temperature at the sea floor. Oceanographers study oceans and ocean life specifically, while limnologists study inland water systems, including lakes, rivers, streams, ponds and wetlands.

Within each of these broader fields, there are specialized scientists who study different parts of our oceans, lakes and rivers. Chemical oceanographers, for example, study and monitor the chemical make-up of the ocean, while physical oceanographers observe the ocean’s currents and circulation, and how that affects sea life.

What you’ll need to get started:
During your undergraduate education, pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology, or a related field to get started. The next step is an advanced degree, either a master’s and/or a doctorate degree, to give you the research skills you’ll need to further your  career.

Aquarist Careers

Ever wonder who picks out and cares for those massive fish tanks in your favorite aquarium? Enter the aquarist. These professionals are responsible for collecting the fish in different exhibits, making sure they play nice with each other, feeding them, cleaning their tanks, and watching for signs of illness or injury.

What you’ll need to get started:
In general, a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology, or a related field will help you get started. By volunteering, interning or working at an aquarium, zoo or pet store, you’ll gain hands-on experience that will give you an edge in the hiring process.  You may also need a SCUBA certification for days when you’ll enter the tank to care for and feed your charges.

Marine Mammal Trainer Careers

When you think of a marine biology career, do you think of the marine mammal trainers who swim with Shamu and the other orcas and dolphins at Sea World? If so, you’re not alone. Marine mammal trainer careers at zoos, aquariums, and water parks remain some of today’s most popular marine biology careers.

In addition to training the animals, marine mammal trainers are also in charge of feeding, cleaning the tanks, monitoring the animal’s health, and coordinating with veterinarians and other park employees.

What you’ll need to get started:
Although it’s not necessary, a bachelor’s degree in zoology, biology, psychology, or marine biology is a great way to start this career. You’ll also need experience working with animals in a pet store, veterinarian’s office, or related business. Volunteering is great way to get your foot in the door for these competitive jobs. And, if you have the time and resources, having a SCUBA certification is also highly beneficial.

Education Specialist Careers

Education specialists are like the docents of the aquarium world. They’re the ones who coordinate special visits for school groups to see new exhibits, lead tours of the aquarium, and answer your questions about the suspicious-looking angler fish in the deep sea tank.

What you’ll need to get started:
Many education specialists start out in another branch of the marine biology field, including working as an aquarist or helping with marine biology research projects. This means that a bachelor’s degree in biology, marine biology or a related field will help you start this career path.

Ready to get started?
Request information from schools offering bachelor’s degrees in biology, marine biology, and other related fields.