Oceans of Opportunity in Marine Science
If you love water and have a keen aptitude for science, studying marine
science just might be for you. Imagine learning to research the effect of
weather trends on the ocean, or finding out how to develop new forms of medicine
from marine plant life.
According to Bernie Brockerville, a placement officer at a marine institute,
the field of marine science offers students coming out of various marine-related
programs an almost 100 percent placement rate.
What is Marine Science?
Marine science is the general term used for any research conducted in relation
to the ocean and the coastal or inland waters connected to the oceans. The
field of marine science is made up of many different disciplines, including
physics, geology, physical oceanography, archeology, anthropology and engineering.
No matter what your particular interest is, if you love the ocean, marine
science will probably have an area that will interest you. Are you curious
about the healing effect of ocean plant life? Would you like to dive to the
bottom of the sea to study deep-sea archeology? Or are you interested in managing
a fish farm and producing alternative resources of food?
These are just a few of the fascinating jobs that fall under the heading
of marine science.
Marine scientists can be found working for universities or colleges, government
agencies and public or privately run laboratories. Salaries for scientists
in the field reflect the level of education and experience a person brings
to the job.
According to placement experts and guidance counselors, the starting salary
for someone with a diploma in any of the general marine science fields is
There is, however, an increasing demand for highly specialized scientists
in the areas of marine technology and engineering, as well as the study of
Marine Technology and Engineering
The Marine Institute has several scientific and technical programs in the
areas of seafood processing and aquaculture. They also offer a number of programs
in marine engineering technology. This is a field that will allow someone
graduating from it to find work on board a ship as a fourth class engineer.
"In our nautical science programs, many of the young people graduating
begin their careers as first or second mates on ships -- and some even start
out working as deckhands!" says Brockerville.
Medicine and the Ocean
For years we have taken the oceans for granted, dumping chemicals, pollution
and other environmental wastes into it. Today, however, science is tapping
the vast secrets of the ocean in an attempt to unlock the secrets of global
warming, and to explore ways that marine and plant life can help to fight
diseases such as leukemia, HIV and cancer.
High-tech industries and pharmaceutical companies who are developing new
medicines and products are only just beginning to realize the vast untapped
potential of the ocean. The oceans contain a rich array of plant and animal
life that can be utilized for health purposes.
Seventy-one percent of Earth is made up of ocean waters and almost three-quarters
of the world's population live in coastal regions. The possibilities for interesting
and meaningful work in a marine-related field are endless.
The ocean is still one of the last great undiscovered mysteries on our
planet. As land resources become scarcer, the ocean may hold the key to future
food sources for humans and animals.
The study of coastal oceanography involves the study of the effects of
pollution on coastal erosion as well as marine geology, geography and management
of the coastal areas.
According to Annette Steel, who works at a marine research station, one
of the most important things for students considering a career in marine science
is to get hands-on experience. They should also look into summer programs
or check out the federal student employment programs that help students seeking
work in the field to get hands-on experience.
Why is there such a terrific interest in marine science and the study of
the ocean? According to Emily Speight of the Marine Technology Society in
Washington, DC, it can be partly explained by our increased environmental
awareness, which has been heightened by the El Nino effect and global warming.
"Young people today seem more aware about the environment and in my 18
years at the society, I would say the last few years have been the busiest,"
For any marine science-related careers, it is a good idea to take as many
science and math courses as possible, including biology, botany, chemistry,
ecology, and fish biology. A good university program will help students get
a work placement so that they will get both classroom experience and hands-on
work in the field.
Check out your local aquariums and zoos for summer or volunteer work, as
well as the federal department of fisheries, the state fish and wildlife branches
and the many wildlife rescue centers located throughout the country.
Oh, and remember it also helps to love the water. Most marine scientists
also have their scuba diving certificate. Remember that it is important to
get your feet wet, so to speak, and get as much hands-on experience as possible.
Scripps Institute of Oceanography
A leader in oceanography
Ocean-Related Educational Sites
An excellent collection of links
Careers in Marine Science
Back to Career Cluster
A great collection of links