Oceanographers seem to have a great job.
As an oceanographer, you can explore the ocean and visit far-off destinations for research.
It also requires years of study.
Use the following guide to learn more about oceanographers, including what they do and how to become one.
If you want to explore the career path to becoming an oceanographer, start with the basics…
- What Is an Oceanographer?
- Work Opportunities in the Oceanographer Industry
- What It’s Like to Be an Oceanographer
- Oceanographer Salary & Income
- Overview of the Oceanographer Industry
- Oceanographer Facts
- Jobs Related to Oceanographer
- Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Oceanographers
- Requirements for Becoming an Oceanographer
- Oceanographer Education Options and Degree Programs
- How to Become an Oceanographer
- Current Career Job Openings
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is an Oceanographer?
An oceanographer is a type of scientist that studies the oceans.
Oceanography covers a variety of areas of specialization.
Some oceanographers specialize in biological aspects of the ocean.
Chemical oceanographers specialize in the study of ocean water and its interaction with marine organisms.
What Is an Oceanographer Called?
An oceanographer is also a type of geoscientist, as geoscientists study the composition of the Earth, which includes the oceans.
What Does an Oceanographer Do?
Oceanographers study animals and plants in the ocean.
They collect and analyze data obtained from the ocean and explore hypotheses.
They attend conferences, submit research proposals, and further their education to keep up with the latest developments in their industry.
Work Opportunities in the Oceanographer Industry
Oceanography offers many job opportunities for those who meet the educational requirements.
However, before pursuing a degree, you may want to learn more about the types of jobs available.
Oceanographer Job Description
The job duties of an oceanographer depend on experience, job roles, and areas of specialty.
Common tasks include:
- Plan field studies and research proposals
- Travel on boats to collect field samples
- Complete lab tests on samples collected from the ocean
- Write research papers and reports
- Attend conferences and college courses
Top Oceanographer Jobs and Careers
Some of the most common oceanographer jobs and careers include:
- A physical oceanographer studies the physical aspects of the ocean, such as water movement.
- A biological oceanographer studies life within the ocean, including plants and animals.
- A geological oceanographer studies the landscape and composition of the seafloor.
Where Can an Oceanographer Work?
After obtaining a degree, aspiring oceanographers may find work at government agencies, such as the US Department of the Interior (DOI) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Nonprofit organizations and academic institutions also employ oceanographers.
What It’s Like to Be an Oceanographer
Oceanographers often get to visit the ocean to collect samples as part of their field research.
However, they spend most of their time in a laboratory setting, studying the samples they collect and developing new research plans.
Is Being an Oceanographer Hard?
Oceanographers often need to develop research proposals, which some may find challenging.
The job may also involve spending two to three months out of the year at sea.
Is an Oceanographer’s Job Stressful?
Oceanographers may find the job stressful when dealing with funding issues.
They need to submit proposals to obtain grants or donations to fund research.
Unfortunately, a lack of available funding often forces oceanographers to wait on projects or frequently rewrite their proposals.
Common Oceanographer Workday
The typical workday may start with checking emails and correspondences related to research projects and proposals.
Oceanographers often split their time between an office setting and research vessels.
When in the office or lab, they may research samples or work on research ideas.
When out to sea, they may collect samples and monitor the ocean.
Oceanographer Tasks & Duties
As discussed, the tasks and duties may vary depending on the sub-field of oceanography and other factors.
Entry-level oceanographers are likely to perform more tedious tasks, such as cleaning equipment and analyzing slides.
Oceanographer Work Hours & Schedule
Oceanographers typically work five-day work weeks with an average of 40 hours per week.
However, they may work longer days when conducting research at sea.
Oceanographer Dress Code
Oceanographers do not typically have specific dress codes but may wear office casual clothing in most situations.
Does This Career Field Embrace Work/Life Balance?
Oceanography can provide a good work/life balance.
However, some people may struggle with spending long periods on boats for research trips.
Oceanographer Salary & Income
Oceanographers may receive a salary or an hourly wage.
Hourly wages are more common for entry-level positions, while supervisory positions often come with an annual salary
Oceanographers can make good money.
The starting pay for most entry-level positions is higher compared to the starting pay for many other industries.
How Much Do Oceanographers Make?
According to Payscale.com, the average oceanographer earns about $66,940 per year or $40 per hour.
However, the typical pay for an entry-level oceanographer is about $55,689.
An oceanographer with 20 years of experience may earn $122,000 per year.
Overview of the Oceanographer Industry
The oceanography industry is on pace to grow at about the same rate as the average for all industries.
It’s a vast industry with a variety of subfields.
Oceanographer Field: Career Progression
Oceanographers typically enter this field with entry-level positions, which may include titles such as research assistant or research technician.
After a few years of experience, an oceanographer may qualify for more senior positions.
Some oceanographers choose to become teachers or professors of oceanography, which often involves going back to school to obtain a Ph.D.
Is Oceanographer a Good Career?
Oceanography is a good career for those who love science and the ocean.
If you’re constantly curious about the ocean and everything in it, you may enjoy working as an oceanographer.
Oceanography also offers good starting pay and job stability.
However, you may also need to deal with being away from home for two to three months when working on research projects.
Oceanographer Job Outlook
The job outlook for oceanography is comparable to other industries.
The need for geoscientists, including oceanographers, is likely to match the national average for all occupations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for geoscientists, including oceanographers, is expected to grow about 7% between 2020 and 2030.
The BLS anticipates 3,100 openings each year on average.
About half of all oceanographers work for the government.
The biggest employers include the Department of the Interior (DOI), the NOAA, the US Geological Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Biological Survey.
Jobs Related to Oceanographer
Jobs related to oceanography include:
Requirements, Skills, and Education Required for Oceanographers
Here’s a quick overview of the education and skills needed to become an oceanographer…
- Who Should Consider an Oceanographer Career Path? Anyone interested in learning more about the ocean should consider this career path.
- Who Should Not Consider an Oceanographer Career Path? Those who dislike science or are afraid of the ocean may want to avoid this career path.
- Is It Hard to Become an Oceanographer? Becoming an oceanographer requires a college degree, which some may find difficult.
- What Do I Need to Become an Oceanographer? You typically need to have a deep fascination for the ocean and a desire to learn, as this job often requires a college degree.
Requirements for Becoming an Oceanographer
The requirements for becoming an oceanographer include obtaining a college degree.
You may also need SCUBA certification before joining a research project at sea.
What Education Does an Oceanographer Need?
Oceanographers typically need a bachelor’s degree.
However, some employers may prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree.
A master’s degree is also often required for senior positions, supervisor positions, and teaching positions.
- Can You Become an Oceanographer Without a Degree? You are unlikely to find work in this field without a college degree.
- What Experience Does an Oceanographer Need? Oceanographers typically need research experience. Most employers prefer to hire oceanographers that have volunteered or assisted with research projects, either during college or shortly after.
- Oceanographer Education & Schooling Aspiring oceanographers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree to enter this field.
What Is Taught in an Oceanographer Course?
Oceanographers study biology, physics, and chemistry.
They also learn more about the geography of the oceans, including the makeup of the seafloor.
How Long Does an Oceanographer Course Take?
An oceanography program may take two to four years to complete, depending on whether you enroll in an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree program.
Oceanographer Education Options and Degree Programs
Common degrees include:
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Environmental Science
- Master’s Degree
Schools for Oceanographers
Schools near coastal cities tend to offer the best oceanography programs.
Examples include the University of Washington in Seattle and the University of Miami.
How to Become an Oceanographer
If you want to become an oceanographer, you will likely need a bachelor’s degree.
Here’s a closer look.
- Excel at science in high school
- Earn a bachelor’s degree
- Volunteer for research projects
- Seek entry-level work as an oceanographer
- Consider earning a master’s degree
Current Career Job Openings
There are many job opportunities for oceanographers.
Here are a few job openings to get you started on your job search:
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Different Types of Oceanography?
The four main fields of oceanography include physical, chemical, biological, and geological oceanography.
Each field focuses on a different aspect of the ocean, such as the chemical processes found in the ocean or the biology of the water and animals in it.
What Type of Oceanography Pays the Most?
Geological oceanographers often earn the most.
Natural gas and oil companies often hire geologists and geological oceanographers.
These companies may pay a salary of $170,000 or more.
Oceanography is a large field with many job opportunities for those with the right education.
If you’re interested in becoming an oceanographer, start studying science in college and work toward a bachelor’s degree.
Common degrees include oceanography, environmental science, geology, and other science-related fields of study.
Oceanographers may work for universities or private companies.
However, most oceanographers end up working for the government.