Biologist

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Kylie, 28

Kylie has focused her love of animals on freshwater fish. By collecting information on fish in Victorian waterways, she is able to help Fisheries to better manage and stock our waters. Find out more:

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Fact file

Job description: Catches fish in recreational fisheries and records details such as length and weight; assesses and writes reports on the findings to aid in fishery management.

Subjects studied: English, Maths A, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

Further training: Kylie completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne (3 years); Graduate Diploma in Fisheries at the Australian Maritime College, Tasmania (1 year); and a Masters in Fisheries Science at Deakin University (4 years, off-campus, part-time).

Salary:  Entry level $25,470 - $31,109 a year, Scientist $39,820 - $54,754 a year.

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Profile

On a typical day, it's not unusual to find Kylie knee-deep in a river, sending out electrical pulses from her backpack to stun fish, or on a boat on a lake setting nets. She does this, of course, for good reason.

Kylie works as a Freshwater Fisheries Assessment Scientist for the Department of Natural Resources (DNRE), Victoria. In order to aid efficient fishery management, she assesses the health and number of fish in recreational freshwater fisheries.

"When we catch fish, we record details such as length and weight, and sometimes take out the earbones to age the fish. This gives us an idea of fish health. We can tell, for instance, whether fish are old for their size, and maybe not growing very well."

Kylie may find that some areas can sustain higher numbers of stocked fish, or the reverse. If, for example, the average size of fish in a lake is decreasing, it may mean that there are too many fish for the lake and stocking rates should be reduced.

The most common type of freshwater fish she catches are stocked brown and rainbow trout, Murray cod and golden perch. "My favourite is the native Murray cod because it is such a big and impressive fish."

"I love being outdoors, except in extreme weather conditions. That's when my administrative tasks, like writing reports and answering queries, appeal."

But landing her dream job wasn't smooth sailing.

Hard work pays off

Kylie grew up with horses, cattle, ducks, chooks, sheep and a goat in a small Victorian country town near Lake Eildon, so it's not surprising that all she wanted to be was a vet.

So determined was Kylie that she even chose to repeat Year 11 to gain an extra edge.

But it wasn't to be. Her marks weren't high enough for entry into Veterinary Science, so she decided to settle with her second choice: a three-year Science degree at Melbourne University majoring in zoology.

After graduation, she found it difficult to get a job. To increase her chances, she completed a one-year Graduate Diploma in Fisheries at the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania.

Still no luck. After doing all kinds of 'drudge' work, she finally got her first 'real job' as a Technical Assistant with the Victorian DNRE at the Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute.

"I did anything to show my interest in fisheries. I even worked in a fish and chip shop," says Kylie.

Perseverance and hard work paid off. Kylie's high level of motivation shines in her long list of accomplishments.  "Fisheries isn't the sort of area anyone can walk into," Kylie notes. "But with persistence, you will get there. I advise, like me, to do as many relevant things as possible to obtain a competitive edge."

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Job specs

A biological scientist studies the structure, function, behaviour and interactions of living organisms to increase scientific knowledge and develop practical applications in fields such as agriculture, fisheries, biotechnology, medicine and the environment.

Personal requirements

  • Enjoy and have an aptitude for science and research
  • Able to think logically and analytically
  • Able to carry out detailed and accurate work
  • Good communication skills
  • Flexible
  • Able to work as part of a team.

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Getting started

Find out more about a career in biology:

CSIRO Marine Research
GPO Box 1538 Hobart, TAS 7001
Tel: (03) 6232 5222

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems
GPO Box 284 Canberra, ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6242 1600

Professionals Australia
(Representing professionals across Australia, including scientists and engineers)
GPO Box 1272 Melbourne, VIC 8060
Tel: (03) 9695 8800
Email: info@ProfessionalsAustralia.org.au

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).

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