I've taken enough courses to almost get a Bachelors in Marine Biology, but chose not to after speaking to many Ph.D's in the field, my professors, and actually doing some of the work myself. I would not recommend becoming a marine biologist if you are looking to start and support a family, want to pursue other goals in life, want tons of free time, or want to make tons of money.
Only do it if you are going to be dedicated. It's a life of research, science, and travel. Pursue it if you love the field enough to dedicate your life to it. I am not saying that becoming a Marine Biologist will make it so you can't have a normal life, but I am saying that being one will make it hard to have a rooted life. You have to travel all over the world for weeks at a time to study and record things in the wild, you have to spend countless hours in the lab testing samples and doing regular lab work. I myself went on a couple trips to various locations around the world, most of the time it is not as exciting as you think it is. It is in fact, very tiring, the excitement wears off very quickly, and you never feel the same level of excitement after your first trip out.
You also cannot just take any marine animal you want home, most of the time it is near impossible to find a specimen, let alone CATCH it. You are allowed to get a special license that allows you to collect a very limited number of specimens for scientific research. Endangered species are absolutely illegal to take (except with an even more special license that can only be approved by the Government), and getting caught WILL land you in federal prison if the quantity taken is substantial. Even taking just one is enough for fines in the tens of thousands of dollars and possible months of prison time. If that is why you want to become a Marine Biologist, stop now. You can get a license for collecting specimens without becoming a Marine Biologist. I have a collector's license that allows me to take very limited amounts of sea critters, but most of the time it is not worth the time and money to go out there to catch a couple of things, especially since they are so hard to catch anyways.
Personally, if I had not vowed to make enough money to support both my parents in their retirement, I would have become a marine biologist. I love all things marine, I love the breathtaking beauty of the reefs under the waves, I love the tranquility of the vast expanse of clear seas, I love keeping a slice of nature in my tank, I love diving in any body of water I can. I love everything about this whole damn "hobby." I love science, so marine biology has got to be once of the most interesting topics I've ever studied, and I switched majors 7 times.
My professors used to make jokes about Marine Biology that I feel would resonate well with a lot of new college students. I forgot exactly what they were, but it was always something along the lines of "everyone wants to become a Marine Biologist when they first go to college, then quickly change their minds when they realize exactly what a Marine Biologist has to do."
I'm not trying to dissuade you from pursuing what you want to do. But speaking from experience, I have to advise you to find out exactly what you are potentially dedicating your future to.
Last edited by AVN; 12-01-2012 at 10:36 AM.