Oceanographers employ mathematical, engineering and scientific theories to investigate the relationships between fresh water, seawater, the biosphere, atmosphere and polar ice caps.
Types of oceanographer
You can choose to specialise in one area of oceanography, such as:
- physical oceanography – studying the properties of currents, waves, tides and ocean circulation, plus the temperature, density and salt content of oceans;
- chemical oceanography – determining the chemical composition of sea water and sediments and effect of pollutants;
- biological oceanography – studying marine animals and plants and how organisms interact with their environment;
- geological oceanography – examining the seabed, including the rocks and minerals.
Employers of oceanographers
- Government departments and agencies
- Environmental agencies
- University research departments
- planning, organizing and leading field research trips
- collecting field samples and data, probably at sea, using equipment such as remote sensors, marine robots and towed or self-powered underwater vehicles.
- giving lectures and making presentations
- using numerical/computer modelling to simulate ocean phenomena
- testing samples in laboratory conditions
- recording, analyzing and interpreting data obtained from samples and remote sensing equipment
- using numerical/statistical modelling to make predictions about trends
- keeping up to date with scientific and research developments
- attending relevant oceanography conferences, training courses and field trips
- writing funding bids and research proposals
- writing research papers, reports and reviews
- analyzing water samples for mineral content and life forms
- using sophisticated equipment and specialist techniques to analyse samples
It’s typical to have a degree in physics, chemistry, maths or biology as well as a postgraduate qualification in oceanography. Degree courses in oceanography, ocean science and marine science, often combined with other earth sciences or computing, are also available.
- excellent communication skills, both written and verbal for working with teams and reporting findings;
- knowledge and experience of the marine environment;
- team project experience as you may be planning and carrying out research assignments;
- good computer literacy and some experience of computational and mathematical modelling;
- good observational skills and attention to detail for analyzing samples;
- determination, perseverance and problem-solving skills, while working away at sea and when carrying out experiments;
- a flexible approach to work;
- the ability to work well in a team and alone;
- openness to ideas and concepts of scientific disciplines other than your own.