Now, on to the question--how much money does a marine biologist make?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates median wages of all biologists at $31.98 hourly and $66,510 annually in their May 2009 survey. The bottom 10 percentile earned $17.67 an hour and $36,750 a year, the bottom 35 percentile earned $24.24 an hour or $50,420 a year, and the top 10 percentile earned $48.36 an hour and $100,580 a year.
Marine biologist salary depends on years of experience, the location of employment, and the employer.
Average entry-level salaries for qualified marine biologists joining consulting firms, and those teaching biology at high schools range from $35000 to $40000 a year. Average salary for assistant professors in universities range from $45,000 to $50,000 a year, and average salary for professors range from $65,000 to $90,000 a year.
One major factor that decides a marine biologists' salary is experience. Marine biologists with less than one year of experience have a starting salary of about $33,000 a year, those with two to five years of experience can earn $45,000 to $57,000 a year, and those with more than five years of experience earn about $60,000 to $70,000 a year. Senior marine biologists with about 15 to 20 years of experience earn in excess of $100,000 a year.
Another major deciding factor in all marine biologist salaries are grants. Apart from the government, the major employers are the many large, elite, and small firms engaged in research, and very often, the government or large private sector corporations fund such firms. Salary in such firms depends on the marine biologist writing successful grant proposals.
Many people consider marine biology as an exotic branch of science and associate the work as exciting and glamorous. The reality, however, is that the job of a marine biologist is hard work and the competition intense, with many applicants chasing the few available grants and plum job postings. Networking and contacts plays a major role in landing good jobs and grants. It takes many years of painstaking perseverance to attain the level of excitement and glamor one associates with the profession.