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Oceanographers employ mathematical, engineering and scientific theories to investigate the relationships between fresh water, seawater, the biosphere, atmosphere and polar ice caps.

Oceanographers can specialise in biological, physical, geological or chemical oceanography. They can study marine life, the ocean floor, chemicals in sea water, water temperature and density, tides and currents.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • planning, organising 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, analysing 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

  • analysing water samples for mineral content and life forms

  • using sophisticated equipment and specialist techniques to analyse samples

Oceanography can involve travel and periods of time away from home to conduct research.


Qualifications and training required


To become an oceanographer, you will usually need a degree in a relevant subject such as oceanography, marine sciences, geology, ecology, biology, chemical or physical sciences, computer science, software engineering, geophysics or technology, mathematics, environmental science or geography.


Key skills for oceanographers


  • Patience

  • Determination

  • Creativity

  • Flexibility

  • Decisiveness

  • A logical and independent mind

  • Meticulous attention to detail

  • Excellent IT skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Teamworking skills

  • Communication skills


Typical employers of oceanographers


  • Government departments and agencies such as the Environmental Agency

  • The Royal Navy

  • Environmental agencies

  • University research departments

  • Consultancies

  • Pressure groups


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