Should I Become a Marine Aquatics Chemist?
Marine aquatics chemists study the chemical relationships between seawater and living organisms and elements. In this profession, you'll spend much of your time doing field research and then analyzing your results in a lab; marine aquatics chemists regularly collaborate with scientists in other disciplines. As with any field of chemistry, you'll need to be mindful of safety procedures to avoid exposure to potentially dangerous substances. It's common for aspiring marine aquatics chemists to earn an undergraduate degree in chemistry and then focus on marine science during their graduate study.
|Degree Level||Graduate degree|
|Degree Field||Marine Science, Chemistry|
|Key Skills||Data analysis, observational skills, mathematics|
|Salary (2014)||$73,480 (median for chemists)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
According to the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography, it is best for aspiring marine aquatics chemists to earn an undergraduate degree in chemistry. Coursework for an undergraduate degree in chemistry includes math, biology and physics. Students will also explore areas of chemistry that include analytical, organic and inorganic chemistry. It is advised that students complement their scientific coursework with studies in English and the social sciences. Students may also want to take a few courses in marine science to find out where their interests lie.
- Participate in undergraduate research. Students can gain hands-on experience participating in research experiments during their undergraduate studies. Benefits of undergraduate research include interacting with faculty and other researchers, developing critical thinking and problem solving skills and exploring one's interests. It is possible for aspiring marine aquatics chemists to find undergraduate research opportunities related to marine science or oceanography.
Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree
Armed with a foundation in chemistry and research, graduates can then pursue a master's degree focusing on chemical oceanography or marine sciences. Students pursuing a master's degree in chemical oceanography will participate in research and take courses relating to the chemical processes of sea and ocean water. They will also study the effect that sea and ocean water has on other elements over time. Often coursework includes a research cruise in which students receive hands-on experience collecting data. As part of the master's program, students will likely have to work on research for a thesis.
Step 3: Earn a PhD
Marine chemists with PhD's in their field have the opportunity to lead research teams and manage research projects. This added responsibility is typically accompanied by a higher salary and a greater level of independence on the job. PhD chemists also have the opportunity to pursue university professorships.
Step 4: Join a Professional Organization
Individuals can network with other researchers as well as learn about advancements in the field by joining professional organizations, such as the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography or the American Chemical Society. Because marine science is an interdisciplinary field, marine aquatics chemists may find it beneficial to network with marine biologists, geologists and other types of scientists as well.