A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Marine and Coastal Science will provide students with knowledge and practical experience needed to pursue careers in marine science (government, private sector, research) and/or advanced degree programs.
The major program includes both research and internship experiences to help prepare students for these career paths. The major requires field experience, independent research or internship, and concludes with a capstone course featuring current research in marine science. These integrative experiences will require students to synthesize the interdisciplinary topics that they have encountered through this degree program.
Career exploration starts with discovery of your personal interests, skills, and values. The UC Davis Internship and Career Center (ICC) is a great place to start your career exploration journey. Be sure to connect with your support system - family, friends, and UC Davis resources - to explore:
- What you're interested in
- What skills you have - and which you'd like to develop while in college
- What values you hold
- What personal identities inform your decisions
- What external factors inform your decisions - and how much influence these have on you
- What can I do with a Marine and Coastal Science major?
- Discover what you can do with your major.
- What are employers looking for in marine scientists?
The American Geosciences Institute provides career resources and a career compass that lists skills and activities that undergraduates can do to prepare for jobs in over 20 different subdisciplines of geosciences, including Ocean Sciences. Be sure to develop both the technical and non-technical skills that employers are looking for.
Non-technical, or "transferable" skills, include writing, communication, flexibility, ethics, time management, and more.
- Transferrable Skills from Academia to the Job Market: A Twitter Thread
- "When applying for nonacademic jobs, think creatively about your transferable skills" by Karin Bodewits
- Where are marine scientists employed?
Marine and Coastal Science majors develop the technical and transferable skills to work in a wide variety of fields, including traditional scientific careers and emerging industries.
MCS majors may find themselves working in:
- Federal government (e.g. Fish and Wildlife, Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA, Peace Corps, U.S. Forest Service)
- State and local government (e.g. California Natural Resources Agency, California Department of Conservation, Department of Water Resources)
- Research facilities (e.g. Bureau of Land Management)
- Environmental Conservation Organizations, wildlife refuges, aquatic preserves
- Non-Governmental Organizations and non-profits (e.g. Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy)
- Environmental consulting firms (e.g. Antea Group, ERM)
- Universities and colleges (e.g. researcher, field technician, lab manager)
- Education organizations (e.g. K-12 teaching, aquariums)
- Legal (law, policy, and politics)
In addition to traditional scientific fields, alumni of the department have gone on to teaching, law school, medical school, finance, design, and many other fields.
- What are marine science jobs like?
Marine scientists get to impact the world in so many ways. You can work outside or inside, in a large organization or a small one, and in industries that connect the study of the oceans with the people inhabiting this earth. As a Marine and Coastal Science major, your graduate with broad and specific coursework, field experience, and research or internship experience. And there are so many disciplines within marine sciences that you have many potential jobs titles you could pursue. As a marine scientists, you can develop a career that matches your values - whatever those may be.
On the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*NET Online you can search for job titles, salary information, career outlook, education level, skills, tasks, interests, and activities associated with thousands of careers. Visit the pages for marine sciences - as well as related careers that will complement your skills and interests.
CA Career Zone pulls information from O*NET Online, but includes information specific to California—salaries, number of job openings, etc. It also has helpful career assessments, which you can use this to get insight about your interests, skills, and values and how they might relate to career opportunities. They also have videos about dozens of different careers to help you get a sense of what working in a field is like.
Transparent California allows you to see the annual salary of people who work for the State of California.
Career OneStop is similar to career exploration resources offered by O*NET and CA Career Zone, but this this resource also offers information about different types of trainings available for various career fields, job search tips on networking, resumes/cover letters, interview and negotiation skills, and more. They also have helpful tips for job seekers in specific groups—veterans, entry-level workers, young adults, workers with a criminal conviction, and people with disabilities.
CareerWise, administered by Minnesota State, is a helpful career exploration tool.
OceanCareers.com helps you explore types of ocean-related careers and how to create your path towards those careers.
Get experience and build skills
Talk with your advisors about the skills you want to develop through formal coursework. Start by looking at the requirements for the MCS major and choosing your focus area and classes based on what you want to learn by the time you graduate.
Take PLS 21 to learn about basic computer skills. Data Science is increasingly becoming vital to all areas of earth science, and is taught in classes like STS 101. Consider also courses in writing, communication, or cultural studies to expand your transferable skills and world view.
Check the MCS Major planning page for more information about courses.
Participating in undergraduate research is a great way to gain work experience or prepare for graduate school. Learn more, including how to register for units for your research project, at MCS Undergraduate Research.
Unlike undergraduate research, internships usually involve working in industry learning the daily tasks of a particular job. Internships can provide a useful networking opportunity, teach technical and transferable skills, and sometimes lead to a job after graduation. Our students have found internships through networking with their peers and recent alumni, professional organizations, job boards, and strategies learned through the Internship and Career Center Internships page.
- Blog post: How to Get an Internship as a College Student
- A Guide to Internships | learnhowtobecome.org
Learn more, including how to register for units for your internship, at MCS Undergraduate Research.
It is UC Davis Earth and Planetary Sciences Department policy that paid research, senior thesis, or internship positions can also give unit credit.
- Preparing to be a K-12 teacher
Interested in teaching science at the middle school or high school level? Want to find out more about teaching as a career? Then be sure to take courses offered by the UC Davis CalTeach/Mathematics and Science Teaching program (CalTeach/MAST). They offer internships in local K-12 classrooms, courses in effective teaching practices, and a professional network that will prepare you for a career in science education. Participation in any one CalTeach/MAST course will give you the prerequisite classroom hours for a teaching credential program.
- UC Davis Health Professions Advising
Health Professions Advising (HPA) is a resource at UC Davis dedicated to helping students preparing for a health or medical career. Their workshops and advising are even available to alumni!
- Entrepreneurship isn't just about starting your own company - it can also include developing skills to think differently, solve problems creatively, or work on management skills. The UC Davis Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a great place to start exploring these skills and more.
Finding a job
- How do I prepare for the job search?
The Internship and Career Center can help you:
- Create and review your resume
- Learn how to make a cover letter
- Learn how to find an internship or job
- Get Transcript Notation for your internship
Check out their workshops and events.
Here are some additional links:
- Career Fairs
Local companies often visit the Internship and Career Fairs each year - and they're specifically looking for geoscientists! Be sure to Prepare for the Fair with the Internship and Career Center's helpful tips, or by talking to advisors and your professional network. Here are some companies to look out for at the fairs:
- Antea Group
- California Department of Conservation
- California Department of Water Resources
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Networking with professionals and professional organizations can help you learn about possible career paths and current job openings. It is true that networking gives you an advantage in securing these jobs, and can be an intimidating process. Remember that everyone you know is part of your network and can help you in your career path. This includes instructors, advisors, peers, alumni, professionals, family members, and friends. Consider networking events as opportunities to learn and grow rather than a test of your knowledge and ability to mingle.
- Professional Organizations
Joining a professional organization is a good way to learn about careers and meet career professionals, who may even be looking to hire recent graduates for entry-level positions. Many national organizations have student chapters and cheaper - or free - annual membership costs. There are many professional organizations in the geosciences, including:
- Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG), UC Davis student chapter
- Members get access to resume review
- OceanCareers.com list of professional societies
These organizations host events, and they love to see students there ready to learn and connect.
- Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG), UC Davis student chapter
Professional organizations across the country will often host an annual conference to bring together scientists to share their research and latest developments. There are poster and oral presentations, networking sessions, and casual interactions – all great ways to meet other scientists, practice networking, and learn about career paths. Students can often get funding for travel to conferences. If you participate in undergraduate or graduate level research, talk to your faculty advisor about presenting your work there - which is excellent experience for your future career or graduate school.
Advice for attending conferences:
Advice for attending a science conference for the first time
How to get the most out of attending conferences
Interviewing a first-time conference attendee
Navigating virtual conferences as a junior researcher
Advice for presenting at conferences:
Doing science: Writing conference abstracts
Here are some common conferences for students to attend:
UC Davis Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activities Conference
American Fisheries Society meeting
Western Society of Naturalists (very student friendly!)
AGU, the American Geophysical Union
SACNAS, the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science
SICB, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
ESA, Ecological Society of America
AAAS, American Association for the Advancement of Science
- What kinds of licenses or certificates will I need?
Many students like to get SCUBA certified. Check out the SCUBA Club at UC Davis for student rates and trips.
- Where can I find internships and jobs?
Here is just one way job searching and networking can look, from a 2013 alumnus:
"I started out just doing searches on [Handshake], indeed.com, and linkedin.com. There are often Student Assistant positions with the state on jobs.ca.gov, and federal positions on usajobs.gov. But what I have found to be the most effective way to find positions is to just look up companies and see if they have any jobs posted on their website… It's also easy to find companies on linkedin."
A few of the many job boards and companies that Marine and Coastal Science majors might consider:
- AAAS Diverse Voices in Science Journalism internship
- American Fisheries Society
- Aquarium of the Pacific Volunteer Opportunities, Internships, and Careers
- Association for Women Geoscientists Career Opportunities
- California Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education
- California Internship Network
- California Water Boards Internships
- CalTech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)
- Careers with the state of California | All state internships and jobs are posted here.
- Careers with the federal government | All federal internships and jobs are posted here.
- Pathways internship program | Get started working for the federal government
- CSU Monterey Bay Ocean Science REU
- GeoCorps™ America | The Geological Society of America offers temporary paid summer positions working in national parks, national forests, and BLM land through this program
- Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP) program | National Park Service
- GIS Jobs Clearinghouse
- Green Jobs Board
- Handshake | UC Davis Internship and Career Center
- Josh's Water Jobs | A global collection of jobs in water
- Sign up for their weekly email list
- Sign up for custom job alerts
- Marine Conservation Institute
- Marine Mammal Center
- Marine Mammal Commission
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) Jobs and Paid Internships
- Mosaics in Science Diversity Internship Program | National Park Service
- National Marine Mammal Foundation Internships
- Naval Postgraduate School - https://nps.edu/web/stem/college
- NOAA Volunteer Opportunities
- NOAA Jobs
- NOAA Coastal Management summer experiences
- NOAA Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship for summer internships
- NOAA Explorer in Training program
- NOAA's Southwest Fisheries Science Center SWFSC Internships and SWFSC Jobs
- NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
- Open Channels
- OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center Internships
- Schmidt Marine Jobs Board
- Scripps Institution of Oceanography Fleet Employment Opportunities
- Scripps Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) REU
- Seven Seas Media
- Seymour Marine Discovery Center Volunteer Opportunities and Internships
- Texas A&M's Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Job Board
- UC Center Sacramento
- UC Center Washington
- UC Davis Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture
- "My advice would be to reach out directly and offer to help, there is always a need for willing hands around CABA. You must be highly responsible, detail oriented, and thorough. The directors are wonderful mentors and I very much enjoy working under them."
- UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute (CMSI) Employment Opportunities
- UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute (CMSI) Volunteer Opportunities
- UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy Internship list
- UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy Undergraduate Research Opportunities
- UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology Research Opportunities
- UC Davis Global Learning Hub | Global opportunities after graduation
- UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center Volunteer Opportunities, Internships, and Jobs
- USC Dornsife Wrigley Institute REU
- USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program
- USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
- USGS Pathways Internship program
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Paid Summer Internships
You can also sign up for mailing lists that post jobs regularly.
- Where have our alumni worked?
- Americorps teaching program
Americorps Watershed Stewards program
Bodega Marine Lab
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Eco Alpha as an environmental technician
Friday Harbor Lab research assistant
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute summer internship
Point Blue intern
REVA Medical, Inc Research Associate
Scripps Marine Research Technician
Time off to travel
UC NRS Lab Assistant
UC Davis Junior Specialist or lab manager
UC Davis Vet School
US Marine Mammal Commission
ICC data on alumni outcomes
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace
- How do I apply to State and Federal Government jobs?
Applying to government jobs comes with extra steps, but you have help in navigating this process. The Internship and Career Center runs workshops each quarter on applying to state and federal jobs.
Federal government jobs are always posted on usajobs.gov. Federal jobs are classified in a “series” or “grade”; learn more at https://www.usajobs.gov/Help/faq/pay/series-and-grade. Grades GS-5 through GS-7 are appropriate for students with a Bachelor's degree. You can qualify for GS-9 positions if you have a master's degree, and for GS-11 positions if you have a doctorate. And here is advice on what to include in your federal resume.Tips on getting a federal job:
California state jobs are posted at calcareers.ca.gov.
- Preparing for and Applying to Graduate School
- See more at https://eps.ucdavis.edu/students/careers/gradschool
Putting it all together
It can be very valuable to talk through your career self-exploration with your major advisor and faculty advisors to explore your path to a geosciences career. The Internship and Career Center Career Advisors can help you explore and develop your individual career path, as can the advisors at Pre-Graduate and Law School advising, Health Professions Advising, or CalTeach/MAST.
You will want to take the useful information you discover about your interests and skills and turn them into goals and plans with the help of your advisors and your personal support system.
Here are some resources to help you put this all together:
- Internship and Career Center Career Resource Manual. See page 4 for a “4-Year Plan of Career Development”
- Roadmap for MCS majors
- Take career assessments to help you match your interests and skills to careers.
- CA Career Zone Assessments: Connect your interests, personality, skills, and more to various career options. This is free, general tool that utilizes workforce data from the state of California.
- O*Net Interest Profiler: Connect your interests to career options. This is free, general tool that utilizes workforce data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Other free and at-cost career assessments are available through Student Health & Counseling.
- UC Davis Success Coaching can help you with decision-making strategies and bring your values in to your decision making.
- Community Resources can help you make meaning of the career information you have learned within the context of understanding yourself.