SMEA graduates work all around the United States and overseas; you can find them in federal, state, and local government offices, non-profit organizations, private consulting firms, higher education, running their own businesses, and more. Most of our alumni continue to work in marine and environmental affairs, but some find their way towards other fields. A number of our students continue on to further advanced degrees such as a Ph.D or  JD.

Just as they arrive at SMEA with diverse interests and backgrounds, our alumni leave SMEA having cultivated both their own interests as well as their ability to think and work as interdisciplinarians. That leads them in all sorts of interesting directions, and makes it possible for them to make an impact in the world. Here are a few statistics from our most recent alumni poll:

Where are they now?

An outline map of the US showing Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Denver, Texas, Illinois, Maryland, DC, Virginia, and Florida highlighted in purple. The other states are gray.

Location of alumni:

  • Seattle: 39%
  • Washington state (outside of Seattle): 18%
  • California: 12%
  • Washington D.C.: 7%
  • Alaska: 3%
  • Oregon: 3%
  • Hawaii: 3%

Other locations with 1% or less:

  • Cuba, Japan, Saipan (CNMI), Mexico, Florida, Vietnam, Chicago, Canada, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Texas.

Post-SMEA Employment

78% Landed marine-specific jobs within one year of graduation

  • Before they graduated: 24%
  • Less than 3 months after graduating: 35%
  • Within a year of graduating: 19%
  • 1+ years after graduating: 12%

Alumni Salary (for those with full time positions):

  • Less than $30,000: 7%
  • $40,000 – $60,000: 33%
  • $60,000 – $80,000: 30%
  • $80,000 – $100,000: 10%
  • $100,00+: 20%


A pie chart showing 42% employed in Public sector, 32% in private, and 26% in non-profit.

Below is an evaluation of SMEA alumni employment by sector and a sampling of job titles our alumni have or have had in each of those sectors.

Public Sector

Many of our graduates go on to positions in policy, management and/or research with local, state or the federal government. Jobs in the public sector are well suited for graduates who want to influence policy and enjoy working on long-term projects and programs. Examples of alumni placement include:

  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game – Deputy Commissioner
  • California Sea Grant College Program – Deputy Director
  • Coast Guard Headquarters – Policy Analyst, Ocean and Transportation Policy Division
  • King County Department of Natural Resources – Program Analyst, Water and Land Resources
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources – Program Manager for Climate Policy and Planning, Office for a Sustainable Future
  • NOAA*/NMFS* – Associate Director, National Marine Mammal Lab
  • NOAA/NMFS – Deputy Director, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
  • NOAA/NMFS – Executive Director, Office of Science and Technology
  • NOAA – Assistant Manager, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
  • NOAA – Deputy Director, Office of Ocean Exploration
  • NOAA – Federal Regulatory Coordinator
  • NOAA – Resource Protection Coordinator
  • NOAA – Washington Sea Grant
  • Oregon Ocean Coastal Management Program – Coastal Program Coordinator
  • Port of Seattle – Environmental Planner
  • Port of Seattle – Seaport Liaison
  • Port of Tacoma – Deputy Executive Director
  • Puget Sound Partnership – Monitoring Program Performance Analyst
  • Snohomish County Public Works – Principal Planner, Surface Water Management
  • U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management – Environmental Protection Specialist
  • U.S. Coast Guard – Chief, Environmental Standards Division
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Senior Advisor, Chesapeake Bay Program Office
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Director
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife – Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System
  • Washington Department of Health – Public Health Advisor
  • Washington Department of Natural Resources – Assistant Division Manager, Aquatic Resources

*NMFS = National Marine Fisheries Service

*NOAA = National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Private Sector

Graduates working in the private sector are typically employed by environmental consulting firms and marine industry-related corporations. In addition, a growing amount of our alumni are self-employed as independent consultants. Consulting is well suited for graduates who enjoy working on a variety of short term projects. Examples of alumni placement include:

  • Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers – Executive Director
  • American Ship Management – Captain
  • Coastal Tourism Research, LLC – Managing Director & Founder
  • Exponent – Senior Managing Scientist
  • Foss Environmental – Project Manager, Marine Services
  • Foss Maritime – Manager, Performance Enhancement
  • Herrera Environmental Consultants – Environmental Scientist
  • Holland-America Line – Senior Manager, Revenue Planning
  • Oil Spill Recovery Institute – Executive Director
  • Parametrix – Policy Analyst
  • Prince William Sound Science Center – President & CEO
  • Tetra Tech – Senior Biologist
  • The Watershed Company – Environmental Planner
  • Trident Seafoods – Environmental Compliance Specialist
  • Triton Container International – Manager, Process Management
  • Un-Cruise Adventures – Chief Mate
  • URS Corporation – Project Scientist and Ecologist

Non-Profit Sector

A growing number of our graduates work for non-profit organizations or non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Non-profits give graduates opportunities to work on projects and programs that are not provided by, or that are not addressed by, government or corporations. Graduates employed in the non-profit field often work on marine and environmental education, advocacy and/or research. Projects and programs vary from short-term to long-term in length of time. Examples of alumni placement include:

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium – Aquaculture Analyst, Seafood Watch
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Manager, National Whale Conservation Fund
  • Natural Resources Defense Council – Ocean Policy Analyst
  • Puget Soundkeeper Alliance – Pollution Prevention Program Manager
  • Santa Barbara Maritime Museum – Executive Director
  • Save Our Wild Salmon – Associate Director
  • Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group – Executive Director
  • The Aspen Institute – Executive Vice President
  • The Nature Conservancy – Director, Community Relations, South Florida
  • The Nature Conservancy/Washington – Marine Project Manager
  • The Ocean Conservancy – Ocean Governance Program Manager
  • World Wildlife Fund – Living Planet Campaign Coordinator

International Sector

Many of our alumni in the international sector are working for government agencies of their native countries. Examples of alumni placement include:

  • Conservation Council of New Brunswick – Executive Director
  • European Commission – Administrator/Scientific Officer, Fisheries
  • Embassy of Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs – First Secretary
  • Fisheries Agency of Japan – Assistant Director, Whaling Section
  • Instituto Espanol de Oceanografia, Spain – Researcher
  • Korea Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries – Assistant Director, Planning and Management
  • Korea Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries – Deputy Director, Marine Environment
  • Korea Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries – Director General, Marine Safety Management

Working in Schools, Colleges & Universities

  • Oregon State University – Program Director, Regional Class Research Vessel
  • University of Southern California – Technical Grant Writer, DC Office of Research Advancement
  • Arizona State University – Research Director, International School for Sustainable Future
  • University of Kansas – Associate Professor of Geography
  • Highline Community College – Manager of Marine Science and Tech Center/Instructor

Ph.D./J.D. Student

  • Ph.D. Candidate – Stanford University
  • Ph.D. Candidate – Michigan State University
  • Ph.D. Candidate – UNC Chapel Hill
  • Ph.D. Candidate – Cornell University
  • Ph.D. Candidate – UC San Diego
  • Law Student – University of Washington

Total Number of graduates: 748


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