Institute of Marine Science

Career pathways

A marine science degree from The University of Auckland will open employment doors around the world.

New Zealand has the world's fifth largest coastal exclusive economic zone. It must be managed sustainably to ensure it provides for our social and economic wellbeing.

This means Marine Science graduates have opportunities in a huge variety of fields, ranging from research to Crown Research Institutes and the private sector.

The skills you acquire will also enable you to take your career path to other oceans and marine environments.


What area might you work in?

  • Marine biology
  • Fisheries management
  • Aquaculture
  • Pharmaceutical development
  • Conservation
  • Biodiversity management
  • Resource planning
  • Policy advice

Who would employ you?

  • Crown Research Institutes (CRIs)
  • Local councils
  • Government departments and ministries, such as conservation, fisheries
  • Museums
  • Private sector, such as mussel and salmon farming
  • Universities

What skills will you gain?

A degree is more than the subject you study. Yes, you will graduate with a Marine Science qualification that gives you specialist knowledge and skills. You will also graduate with new skills and knowledge that reach beyond your degree.

A degree will give you transferable skills in:

  • Finding and critically evaluating information; how to use, manage, present, and communicate that information, including the use of modern information technology.
  • Numeracy and computer literacy, and an understanding of qualitative and quantitative information.
  • Personal and professional integrity, and respect for the ethics of research and scholarly activity.

What scientific skills will you get from a marine science degree from Auckland?

  • Future-proofing through a science education - concepts, theories and empirical results; practical, analytical and research skills; knowledge of scientific methods and approaches; an understanding of current global, national and local environmental issues
  • Fundamental grounding in biology, chemistry, geography, environmental science, geology, physics or statistics
  • Core skills in critical thinking and analysis, field and laboratory research methodology, data analysis and presentation
  • Specialist skills in a particular discipline or sub discipline
  • Conservation: knowledge of ecology, ecophysiology, environmental chemistry, food science, aquaculture, fisheries, statistical modelling, data analysis, etc
  • Animal group: knowledge of microbes, primary producers, invertebrates, fish, marine mammals
  • Environment: knowledge of estuaries, coastal processes, reefs, soft sediments, pelagic communities. The ability to think about and integrate information across disciplines and work with specialists from other disciplines
  • Your future: linked to New Zealand’s growth in sustainable use of the marine environment.

With those skills, your work opportunities range from fisheries and agriculture to seafood production and quality, and Māori development.


Where have our graduates ended up?

a person sitting on a the bow of a boat at sunset

In the last 10 years, our graduates have gone on to work around the world.

  • Research
  • Consulting
  • Government science organisations in other countries
  • Lectureships
  • Zoos
  • Marine education
  • Regional councils
  • PhD study
  • Aquaculture sales in Japan
  • Teaching in New Zealand and the US
  • International conservation organisations

Some Marine Science pathways

  • Scientifically informed management of fisheries and aquaculture.
  • Establishing/expanding boundaries around sustainable exploitation and how they might be expanded.
  • Environmental Technology (ET). Developing technologies that support environmental sustainability and resource use and which have the potential to become significant industries in their own right.
  • A network of remote sensing platforms in oceans, based on the skills and experiences gained from remote sensing from space.
  • New Zealand wild fisheries have an international reputation for sound management principles, policies and practice. Demonstrable sustainability is becoming an increasingly important marketing tool
  • Sustainable use must also encompass the economic, social and policy dimensions. New Zealand already has a deserved reputation as a world leader in property-rights based resource management on which to build.
  • Marine science is one key to advancing Māori development given their ownership, relationship to the sea and their relatively high employment within marine-related industries.
  • Increasing the production and quality of New Zealand seafood needs graduates who understand areas such as ecology, larval biology, physiology, behaviour, reproduction, population and feeding biology, production technology and management policy.
  • Improving seafood production by developing cost-effective and environmentally sustainable feeding strategies and grow-out feeds. Manufactured feeds are a critical limiting factor for developing high value marine finfish aquaculture (snapper, kingfish, and other species) and for some shellfish species. Research into nutrition, feeding behaviour and the growth status of currently farmed and new species is essential. Biochemical and molecular markers of growth and nutritional status can be developed from a science background.
  • Increased seafood value and profitability by mastering the quality requirements of the producer market chain. Understanding the factors which determine the intrinsic characteristics and quality of our farmed marine products. Understanding
  • the effects of farming practices, post-harvest handling, and environmental stressors on production, product quality, and shelf life. One option is to combine the biochemical, physiological, and molecular tools developed by university scientists with NIWA's expertise in reproductive and nutritional technologies.
  • Establishing sustainable seafood production by understanding stock, social and
  • environmental processes. Research that improves the multidisciplinary management of fish stocks is fundamental to maximising performances. Research that improves understanding of the interaction of fishing and aquaculture activities with the social and natural environments will lead to improved management policies and the establishment of a stronger sustainable basis for seafood production.

The value of postgraduate study

Many employment opportunities in marine science require significant postgraduate training, frequently in two or more disciplines. For example, a good fisheries scientist must may need to have sound knowledge of statistics, oceanography, population modelling, biology and biophysics.

Find out more about our postgraduate study options


Help and advice

Career Development and Employability Services (CDES)
CDES can assist you with all aspects of your career development, from finding a part-time job while you are at University to landing that dream graduate role. Explore our website and login to MyCDES, your personalised career management system, to book into workshops, one-on-one appointments with our consultants and recruitment events.

Maybe a university career?
The University also offers opportunities.

Careers New Zealand
Their website has useful information on marine science careers.

Meet some Marine science alumni
They are spread across the world in occupations ranging from egg and larvae technician, marine researcher and fisheries scientist to marine conservation manager surveillance advisor, and postdoctoral fellows/scientists.