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Fishery Biologist: Job Description, Duties, Salary and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fishery biologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties, and career outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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Fishery biologists study fish for various research purposes such as understanding disease, natural habitats, and fish behavior. They can choose to work in fields related to basic fishery research or applied research. The requirements for these positions vary and can include completing a bachelor's or master's degree or a Ph.D.

Essential Information

Fishery biologists study fish and supervise efforts to conserve natural habitats. Some work on boats, collecting samples and documenting statistics. Others work near streams, lakes, and fish hatcheries and conduct experiments. Although some biologists hold a Ph.D., most positions only require a bachelor's or master's degree related to marine and fishery sciences.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's degree
Projected Job Growth 4% between 2014 and 2024 (Zoologists and wildlife biologists)*
Average Salary (2015) $64,230 (Zoologists and wildlife biologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Fishery Biologists

In general, fish biologists study how the environment and other outside forces affect fish life cycles. Some choose to specialize in population control, such as increasing the number of endangered species or decreasing the number of overpopulated species. Others study how fish respond to diseases in hopes of finding medicinal cures for humans. Work can vary depending on where the fishery biologist works, for example, marine fishery biologists focus on species that live in the ocean while fishery limnologists work with freshwater species.

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Fishery Biologist Job Duties

Biologists who work in basic fishery research conduct multiple studies to increase our understanding of different types of fish. For example, some may choose to research the eating habits of salmon to verify if an area's food supply can support the fish population. To accomplish this, biologists accurately count the amount of salmon in an area, document the current food supply, and calculate how many fish can be supported. This type of research can help regulate fishing quotas in relation to population control.

Biologists working in applied research generally study how to remedy fish habitat-related problems. For instance, urban development and industrial waste can negatively affect various fish habitats. To check the amount of waste, biologists would first identify problem areas, such as factories located near habitats, and then take water, sediment, and fish samples. Statistics gathered from these and similar tests can help create regulations meant for controlling industrial pollution and protecting the environment.

Nearly all biologists work with teams of other professionals, but not all team members possess a biology background. Therefore biologists need strong communication skills to effectively explain their projects to individuals of all backgrounds. This skill is also useful for holding business meetings with potential investors since a significant part of the job includes finding continual funding.

Salary and Career Outlook for Fishery Biologists

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), wildlife biologists and zoologists earned an average salary of $64,230 in May 2015. Although the BLS reported that employment of zoologists and wildlife biologists would grow 4% from 2014-2024, this increase may not accurately reflect jobs in the fishery industry. Job growth was projected to be driven by biologists dedicated to environmental preservation and conservation and those involved in research. Most college programs related to fishery or marine biology state that jobs are very competitive, especially for federal or state government positions.

Fishery biologists require advanced education that could include a bachelor's or master's degree or a Ph.D, depending on the position they seek. The job outlook for these positions is about as fast as all jobs. The average annual salary is about $64,000.

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