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Oceanographer

Oceanographers study the seas and oceans.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need a degree in oceanography or a related subject, and a postgraduate master's degree (MSc). You may also need a PhD in a subject like oceanography, maths, geology or environmental science.

You may also need work experience at a laboratory or marine research centre. Visit the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) for research institutions.

2. Skills required

As an oceanographer you'll need:

  • strong mathematical skills
  • excellent observational and practical skills
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • excellent spoken and written communication skills to present your findings

3. What you'll do

You'll specialise in one of the 4 branches of oceanography:

  • biological - studying marine plants and animals
  • physical - exploring water temperature, density, wave motion, tides and currents
  • geological - examining the structure and make-up of the ocean floor
  • chemical - analysing the chemicals in sea water and the impact of pollutants

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • planning and carrying out research expeditions
  • managing a research project and leading a team
  • preparing scientific equipment
  • designing experiments to test your ideas
  • using equipment to collect samples and data
  • tracking changes in the environment
  • using computers to produce models like maps of the ocean floor
  • writing reports of your research findings
  • publishing and presenting your findings

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000 (while studying a funded PhD)

Experienced: £29,000 to £36,000

Highly Experienced: £36,000 to £60,000

Your salary will depend on your employer, job role, qualifications and experience.

A professor or senior in a research institution or industry can earn £60,000 or more.

University lecturers earn around £36,000 a year.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your hours will vary by project.

You could work in a lab or office, or you could be on a ship or an offshore platform for several days or months.

The job may be hazardous and physically demanding. You may use diving equipment or undersea vehicles. You may work in a remote location.

6. Career path and progression

You could further your career by taking courses through the Marine Technology Education Consortium, or by networking at events run by the SUT or the Challenger Society for Marine Science.

You could take a PhD through an initiative like the Southampton Partnership for Innovative Training of Future Investigators Researching the Environment (SPITFIRE).

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Last updated: 11 April 2017