Difference Between Zoologist & Marine Biologist

This article compares the very similar careers of zoologists and marine biologists, including their job outlooks, educational requirements, salaries, and duties.

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Comparing Zoologists to Marine Biologists

Zoologists and marine biologists are both interested in nature. Both of these careers offer a chance to get your hands dirty in the field while collecting data and specimens related to the specific animal of study. Zoologists work closely with different types of animals to observe their feeding, mating, and migrating behaviors, which is similar to what marine biologists do as they track and discover marine organisms. Though these seem like separate careers, the goals of each are very similar.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Zoologist Bachelor's Degree $54,760 +4% (for all zoologists and wildlife biologists)
Marine Biologist Master's Degree $51,303 +4% (for all zoologists and wildlife biologists)

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Zoologists vs. Marine Biologists

Whether focusing on rainforests, northern woodlands, or even frozen tundra, zoologists specialize in the study of certain animals within these habitats. Marine biologists, on the other hand, focus solely on animals and plants that reside in the world's oceans. Zoologists focus on educating the public and protecting those ecosystems that are disappearing. Marine biologists also want to preserve habitats, but they are most interested in oceans and the rare creatures that live there, some of which have yet to even be discovered. The professionals in both these careers are responsible for writing reports based on observations in the field and teaching members of the public about the amazing animals they find there.


Zoologists specialize in working with and studying certain animals. More often than not, they work for wildlife agencies or zoos and spend most of their time completing work in the field. It is their job to conduct research on the habitat, migration, and reproduction behavior of several types of animals, most importantly those that are endangered by human actions. A desire to educate people on animals, and ensure animals and humans can co-exist harmoniously, is a must for this career.

Job responsibilities of a zoologist include:

  • Collecting blood, hair, and stool samples for analysis to ensure the health of the animals
  • Writing reports based on field observations to utilize when building animal habitats in zoos, as well as to educate the public
  • Developing plans to conserve the habitat and natural behavior of endangered animals
  • Presenting findings at conservation or biology conferences

Marine Biologists

Marine biologists study aquatic plants and animals. They can work for governmental agencies or aquariums during their careers, but most spend much of their time on a boat in the ocean. While in the field, these scientists locate and tag salt-water fauna to track their movement. Marine biologists may also look after animals that have been victims of oil spills, track the health of ancient corals, and inventory fish and other sea animals.

Job responsibilities of a marine biologist include:

  • Caring for sea animals by ensuring proper feeding, habitat decorating, and rehabilitation of hurt animals
  • Working to restore and conserve marine habitats, such as coral and coastlines, to encourage the growth of animal populations
  • Engaging in cleaning up oil spills and trash from the oceans
  • Educating the public on the effects of humans on marine habitats

Related Careers

If a career as a zoologist interests you, it may be beneficial to also consider a possible career as an environmental scientist, because these careers both aim to keep animals and habits around for generations. Similarly, if a job as a marine biologist seems like fun, you may also search for information on becoming a veterinarian, since both of these careers allow for animal interaction.

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