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How Much Money Do Marine Biologists Make in a Year?

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Marine biology has many different specialtiesnsuch as biochemistry, microbiology, marine mammal zoology, and fisheries. Salaries depend on the level of education of the marine biologist, the location of her job and who her employer is. Competition for jobs is tough since there are many more marine biologists than related jobs.

Salary by Specialty

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in May 2008, biochemists earned a median salary of $82,840. Microbiologists earned $64,350. Zoologists and wildlife biologists who would deal with marine mammals earned a median salary of $55,290. According to the website Sea Grant Marine Careers, a fisheries ecologist would earn a median salary of $32,500 in 2009.

Salary by Education

Education in the field of marine biology ranges from a bachelor's degree to a doctorate. The more education, the higher the pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, beginning salary offers for marine biologists with bachelor's degrees in 2009 was $33,254. According to the website PhD Program, a biochemist with a PhD can earn between $110,000 and $150,000 a year.

Salary by Location

Some of the highest paid biologists work in the District of Columbia for the federal government and earn a mean salary of $104,350 as of 2009. Maryland and Virginia biologists receive a mean salary of about $90,000 a year. Biologists in Salinas, California, earned a mean salary of $111,441. Biologists in the Oakland, California, area earned a mean salary of $87,450. Biologists in Alaska earned a mean salary of $70,880.

Salary by Employer

The federal government and certain areas in the private sector tend to be among the highest paying employers for marine biologists. Teaching positions at universities are lower paying unless they are full time faculty positions. In the federal government in 2009, for example, microbiologists earned an average income of $97,264 which is 50 percent more than microbiologists across the board. Zoologists earned $116,908, which is more than twice the average for zoologists in general.


Jane Doyle has been writing for newspapers and magazines for more than 30 years. She served as associate editor for a business/lifestyle publication and has written articles for magazines ranging from "Bank Director" to "Natural Home." Doyle holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas.