Career in Oceanography

9 minute read

Oceanography has emerged as one of the demanding fields, especially, with the advancement of technology. The knowledge and skills gained upon pursuing degree courses after 12th Science in this field are used to attain the information on the deepest parts of the ocean and sea. Due to this, there exists a vast scope in the industry, study, and research. To understand this in detail, here is a blog that will shed light on various components related to starting a career in Oceanography!

Oregon State University

What is Oceanography?

Oceanography is a subdivision of Earth Science that assesses the ocean and marine life’s chemical, physical and biological components by applying the concepts of various branches of Science like Geology, Biology, Chemistry, and Meteorology. The subject has been traditionally divided into four fields of study- Chemical, Physical, Geological, and Biological oceanography. 

What Does an Oceanographer Do?

An oceanographer is a type of scientist that specialises in studying the ocean. Because the seas are such a vast environment, oceanographic science must be equally vast. Oceanographers study all aspects of the ocean, including the chemistry of ocean water, the geology of the ocean, the physical motions of the ocean water, and even the life that lives in the ocean. As people have spread around the globe, our effect on the seas is putting a strain on their capacity to function regularly. Healthy seas are critical to the planet’s long-term health. Oceanographers are among the most influential climate experts in the battle against climate change, overpopulation, and overfishing.

Where Does an Oceanographer Work?

The seas cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface area and are home to the bulk of the planet’s ecosystem. An oceanographer’s line of work necessitates fieldwork, which means that they will frequently be working on the ocean or in places near the water. Oceanographers may find themselves exploring the ocean’s impact on regions distant from the ocean since the ocean influences global climate and the overall health of our planet. Ocean scientists frequently travel long distances, doing physical duties and meeting dangerous creatures or events that put all of their talents to the test.

Oceanographers’ day-to-day responsibilities might be diverse, yet they always revolve around their core goal: study. Oceanographers devote a significant amount of time to research, which includes reading several papers, performing experiments, collecting data, and then writing about their findings and sharing them with the rest of the world. While much of this work is done in a lab, a researcher studying the ocean must spend time in the water, on the water, or near the water. To collect data, some oceanographers learn to SCUBA dive, while others spend time on a boat or in a submersible.. Many oceanographers work at universities all throughout the world, where they spend much of their time lecturing or teaching about the ocean. Many of the most prominent oceanographic institutes are, unsurprisingly, located near the shore. They pass on their expertise to future oceanographers in the form of fresh student scientists.

What are the 4 Types of Oceanography?

  • Chemical Oceanography is the study of seawater, its cycles, and its interaction with the seafloor. Apart from this, the effects of pollutants and chemical processes on marine life in the ocean is also examined. 
  • Physical Oceanography studies the conditions and processes in the ocean, the currents, tides, waves, etc. Furthermore, the relationship between the ocean atmosphere which affects the weather and the climate is also studied. 
  • Geological Oceanography explores the surface of the ocean and studies how the valleys, volcanoes, and mountains are formed at the surface bed. Those who pursue such courses are the ocean archaeologists who look at the evidence of millions of years and the processes that have taken place. The study then helps in understanding how the earth was formed.
  • Biological Oceanography, which is also known as Marine Biology, is the study of living organisms in the marine environment. The study uses filed observation to understand how the organisms adapt, live, interact and develop in the environment.
Mr. Weather’s World

Value of an Oceanography Career 

Climate change and overpopulation pose serious challenges to the natural world. Oceans are becoming more acidic and weather conditions are worsening in unpredictable ways. These effects are detrimental to biological life, especially in the oceans. If humans want to be good keepers of our planet, they must find ways to change course and repair the environmental damage before it’s too late. Scientists including oceanographers are the ones who lead and develop an action plan. A career in oceanography comes with specific challenges and may involve major roles and responsibilities other than any profession. However, if you are interested in creating fresh discoveries and positively influencing our planet earth then this role is perfect for you! 

Oceanography Skills Required 

Here are the top skills that must be present in an aspirant if he or she wishes to become an oceanographer: 

  • Outstanding practical and problem-solving skills 
  • Critical thinking skills 
  • Candidates must possess good communication skills 
  • Keen interest in scientific and mathematical operations of the marine life
  • Must have good observation skills 
  • The writing skills should also be good when publishing specific findings 
  • Must have good knowledge of different oceans of different areas 
  • Research skills are necessary as it is important to research about whole properties of the particular ocean 

How to Become an Oceanographer? (Step-Wise Guide)

If you are also interested in exploring all about oceans and marine life and love the environment, then becoming an oceanographer might be the perfect career choice for you. Here we have collated a step-by-step guide on how to become an oceanographer. 

Step 1: Learn Science and Maths in High School

If you want to pursue a career in oceanography, it would be a good start to your studies. High school Maths and Science classes will provide you with adequate preparation after graduation. Take classes on Earth Sciences, PhysicsBotany, Geology, Maths, HistoryGeography, etc. Also, you can be a part of after school or summer programs related to Science and Maths. Additionally, take advantage of volunteering opportunities and go on research about marine life and nature. 

Step 2: Obtain a Proper College Education 

The first thing to do in college is to decide and find out what type of oceanographer excites you. Take the relevant subjects and get a proper degree from a renowned college/university. Study your bachelor’s majors in Biology, Physics, Chemistry or Geology. Post completion of undergraduate studies, it is always a better idea to pursue a master’s degree. This will allow you to focus on a particular kind of oceanographer field you are interested in. Lastly, some of the students pick up a job or go for advanced studies. A PhD in oceanography offers the best faculty, resources, facilities and training. 

Step 3: Work as an Oceanographer 

Start with the internship because it will provide you with hands-on experience. Intern as a research assistant or as a computer technician. After getting industry experience, apply for the job as an oceanographer. You must possess the vast knowledge and special skill sets of an oceanographer. You can be hired in organizations such as universities, government laboratories, marine science organizations, private research laboratories and institutions, private corporations like oil and gas companies. 

Eligibility Criteria for Pursuing Oceanography Courses

Be it Marine Engineering courses or programs related to it, a candidate has to fulfill certain requirements that the concerned university demands. There are also some exams which one has to clear in order to be eligible for applying to a particular course. So, if you are wondering what qualifications do you need to be an oceanographer then here is what you need to know: 

  • A candidate should have pursued the Science stream with BiPC subjects [Biology, Physics, and Chemistry] in XIIth standard.
  • For pursuing postgraduate programs, an applicant should have a bachelor’s degree like Bachelor of Science, preferably in Geoscience, with a minimum percentile as set by the university. BTech Oceanography or related graduates can also apply. 

Documents Required

As discussed, when it comes to starting a career abroad, one has to clear some exams or furnish a set of documents. Enlisted are some admission requirements to pursue Oceanography courses abroad:

  • A valid scorecard of English language tests like IELTS/TOEFL/PTE, etc. 
  • Statement of Purpose [SOP], Letter of Recommendation [LORs], transcripts/marksheets, updated CV/resume, etc.
  • For master level Oceanography courses, one also has to clear GRE exam [If required]

On the other hand, In India, aspirants are required to write the GATE exam for post-graduation courses and JEE Mains to pursue a BTech or Bachelor of Engineering degree in Oceanography. Some institutions and universities also have their own separate entrance tests for the Undergraduate, Postgraduate, and Doctorate programs. 

Apart from offering quality education, the academic institutes mentioned below also offer state of the art facilities, well-built infrastructure, experienced professors, and industry opportunities. Here are colleges offering courses in Oceanography or its variants:

University  Course
Hawaii Pacific State University BS in Oceanography
Washington University Bachelors in Oceanography
North Carolina State University BS in Marine Science: Biological Oceanography
Stockholm University Bachelor’s in Marine Science: Oceanography
University of Queensland BSc in Marine Science
University of Strathclyde MSc Hydrogeology
University of Auckland Postgraduate Diploma in Sciences [Marine Science]

Did you know you can pursue oceanography in IIT? IIT Madras offers courses in oceanography. Here is a list of colleges in India offering Oceanography courses:

  • Indian Maritime University
  • IIT Madras
  • Goa University
  • Mangalore University
  • Kerala University
  • Annamalai University
  • Berhampur University
  • Cochin University of  Science and Technology
  • Anna University
  • Institute of Technology & Marine Engineering

Top Oceanography Books 

As the climate conditions are deteriorating, pollution is increasing and there is a shift in marine life, the oceanography books have become important in both academics and real life. We will take a look at the list of books you must consider while studying Oceanography courses or while practising in real-life situations: 

Oceanography: A Brief Introduction by K. Siddartha (Click here to buy)
Oceanography for geographers by R.C Sharma (Click here to buy)
Oceanography: An Invitation to Marine Life by Tom S Garrison (Click here to buy)
Essentials of Oceanography by Alan P. Trujillo (Click here to buy)
How the Ocean Work by Mark Denny  (Click here to buy)
Biological Oceanography by Eric Mills  (Click here to buy)

Oceanography Careers

Job prospects are vast in the field of Oceanography in both, public and private sectors. The requirement of Oceanographers is at its peak with the number of researches taking place at all the level and aspects of the ocean. Furthermore, with the increase in global warming, the necessity of understanding various facets of Marine Science has increased the demand for such professionals. learning the survival of marine organisms and most importantly the history that has been buried in the oceans all over the world. In India, public sectors like Geological Survey of India, Department of Oceanography, Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Meteorological Survey of India and Oil India are some of the highly demanded and respectable companies where an Oceanographer can work. The Union Public Service Commission or UPSC exams is a way of joining such services in the public sector.

Here is a list of sectors where Oceanographers can find employment opportunities: 

  • Environmental Protection Agencies
  • Indian Navy
  • Merchant Navy
  • National Institute of Oceanography
  • Weather Forecast Department
  • Manufacturers of Marine Equipments
  • Energy Supply Organizations
  • Oil, Gas, and Water Industry
  • Industrial Research Laboratories

Job Profiles & Salary

There is immense scope in oceanography in India & abroad. Here is the list of popular job profiles along with basic salary structure:

  • Ocean imports Manager
  • Wellness Ocean Resource Person
  • Marine Biologists
  • Physical, Biological, Chemical and Geological Oceanographers
  • Marine Environmentalists
  • Marine and Ocean Engineers
  • Marine Policy Experts
  • Hydrographer
  • Marine Archaeologists
  • Ocean Freight Manager
  • Maintenance Assistant
Credits: PayScale

This blog post was about the career prospects in the field of Oceanography and we hope that the information was of relevance to you. There exists a variety of courses available in this field. Needless to say, choosing a course that aligns with your competencies can be tough. Reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu through an E-meeting who will not only help you choose the right university and course but will also provide assistance in writing an impressive SOP to increase your chances of getting selected in revered institutions!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *



10,000+ students realised their study abroad dream with us. Take the first step today.
Talk to an expert