Science, Technology & Environment

Oceanographer

Oceanographers study the motion of water in oceans, its physical and chemical properties, and interactions with ocean shores and climate.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor's degree + post-graduate qualification / training

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does an Oceanographer do?

Oceanographers study the motion of water in oceans, its physical and chemical properties, and interactions with ocean shores and climate. Oceanographers aim to understand how the oceans work, as well as how to make the most efficient and sustainable use of ocean resources. Oceanographers may also be, or be known as, marine biologists or marine geologists.

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Work activities

As an oceanographer, you might:

  • plan and carry out research expeditions
  • manage a research project and lead a team of researchers and technical staff
  • collect data and samples at sea, from water, the atmosphere, or the sea floor
  • prepare and use a range of specialised equipment to collect samples at sea
  • analyse and interpret data from samples, measurements and remote sensing aids
  • create experiments to test hypotheses in the laboratory
  • use computers to produce models or perform simulations
  • specialise in one of the four branches of oceanography - biological, chemical, geological or physical
  • write reports based on your research findings
  • submit proposals to obtain research funding
  • publish and present research findings to the public and other scientists.
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Key skills and interests

To become an oceanographer, you would need:

  • strong mathematical and scientific skills
  • knowledge and experience of the marine environment
  • good observational skills
  • practical skills
  • excellent communication skills
  • good IT and computer modelling skills
  • strong problem solving skills
  • a flexible approach to work
  • determination and perseverance
  • accuracy and attention to detail.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

In a full-time role, you would generally work a standard number of hours when onshore. Depending on the project, you may also spend a number of days, or even months, at sea doing research. While at sea, you would likely work long and irregular hours.

Conditions

Oceanographers generally work in an office or a laboratory when onshore. To carry out research, you might work on a ship or an offshore platform in a remote location. Conditions may be hazardous and physically demanding.

This work often includes using diving equipment or submersible vehicles.

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How to become an Oceanographer?

Entry Level Education

Oceanography is mostly a research-based career. Most new oceanographers have a bachelor's degree in an area such as marine science, physics, maths, chemistry, or biology, followed by a postgraduate master's degree in oceanography. Some employers would also expect you to have, or be working towards, a relevant PhD.

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment prospects for oceanographers appear to be positive.

Increasing long term weather forecasting, attention to climate change, environmental protection, responsible resource management and similar considerations are stimulating research and related initiatives to better understand and predict how oceans work, and how to most efficiently use and sustain their resources. These factors will likely lead to more employment opportunities for oceanographers.

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