Careers in marine education fall into two main categories: education contributing to an academic award, such as a school grade, diploma or degree, and education of the general community for its intrinsic value. The latter category is commonly referred to as ecotourism, and the reader is referred to the previous pages for more information about this career area.
Most marine educators are professional teachers with qualifications in fields such as science and outdoor education. Increasing public awareness of the need for conservation of the marine environment and its valuable resources is reflected in the increased attention given to marine science in academic curricula at all levels of education.
Primary school teachers tend to integrate marine studies into science, mathematics, languages, social studies and art. Many secondary-level science teachers are updating their skills in marine science and providing exciting and adventurous field trips for their students. They may incorporate marine studies into traditional study areas such as science, biology, geography, environmental science and outdoor education. A number of schools even provide marine studies subjects in their curriculum.
Some teachers have further specialised to provide marine education services to schools and other teachers. Specialist educators may design a curriculum, produce support materials and even teach the program. One marine educator has set up an international education industry based on marine studies.
Marine education in schools is enhanced by the development of field study centres with a partial or total emphasis on marine studies. These centres employ marine educators, who are usually professional teachers, to prepare and teach courses to students, teachers and community groups with the aim of increasing awareness and appreciation of the marine environment.
Those wishing to specialise in teaching marine science at secondary school or TAFE level will require both a primary science degree with a significant marine component including field-based subjects, and a postgraduate award in teaching.
At tertiary level, the main areas of employment in education are as tutors or lecturers. To be even considered for a lecturing position requires a doctoral degree, but it is possible to work as a tutor with a bachelors degree. Recently, the number of international university student groups visiting Australia has increased markedly, and many of these incorporate a marine component into their studies. This activity is providing a welcome source of employment for some graduates, although the work can be seasonal and some groups require tutors to hold a minimum qualification of a masters degree.
Photo: Field work is an important component of marine science education.