Marine careers

Oceanographer

Oceanographers study the seas and oceans.

Annual Salary

£14,000 to £60,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

Variable

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Oceanographer jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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

University

You can study for a degree in oceanography or a related subject, like:

  • ocean science
  • geology
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • environmental science

Employers are increasingly looking for postgraduate qualifications, like a master's or PhD. They also value experience of working in marine science or oceanography research.

You can get experience through:

  • studying for a degree that includes a year in industry with a research organisation
  • a placement or internship in a laboratory or marine research centre

You can find marine companies and research organisations through the Society for Underwater Technology.

£14,000 to £60,000

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

Experienced salary: £29,000 to £36,000

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.

Variable

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.

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).

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are 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
  • knowledge of geography
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • knowledge of sociology and anthropology for understanding society and culture
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device


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