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.
Being an oceanographer could see you involved in areas such as mineral exploitation, shipping, fisheries, coastal construction, pollution, weather prediction, climate change and renewable energy.
Your work will also depend on your employer and your level of training and experience, but may include:
collecting samples and data from the sea, sea floor or atmosphere using specialised equipment and techniques;
analysing samples for natural and contaminant composition;
looking at life forms and matter, such as trace metals, present in sea water
performing simulations of ocean phenomena using computer or mathematical models
using statistical models of laboratory and field data to investigate hypotheses and make predictions
analysing and interpreting data from samples, measurements and remote sensing aids
attending conferences and going on research cruises
submitting proposals to obtain research funding
writing reports and papers on research activities
lecturing to university classes and leading field trips.
You will need to show:
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 analysing 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.
Related experience in marine science or oceanography research is an advantage. This can be through a sandwich year during your degree, overseas study, undergraduate collaborative projects or employment.