Oceanographers study the seas and oceans.
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
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 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
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