How to Become an


The complete career guide to be an Oceanographer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $105,720
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 10.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Oceanographers conduct research and study the oceans, marine life, weather, ocean climates and ocean pollution.  They specialize in fields like, biological oceanographer, physical oceanographer or chemical oceanographer, all of which have different oceanic work environments and habitats.  They try to preserve the natural habitats of the oceans along with the sea life, climate and weather patterns.

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What is an Oceanographer?

The following responsibilities are common for Oceanographers:

  • Plans, organizes and leads field research
  • Collects field samples from the ocean using robots, remote sensors and underwater marine equipment
  • Uses numerical data and computer simulation to generate and simulate ocean events and occurrences
  • Tests marine samples in a laboratory
  • Records, analyzes and interprets marine data collected from marine samples

A Day In The Life

Oceanographers study the ocean .  They can study the marine life, chemicals in the sea water, the ocean floor, water temperature or tides and currents.

They study every different aspect of the ocean.  From the chemistry of the ocean water to the geology of the ocean and all the marine life alive within the ocean waters.  Healthy oceans are crucial to maintaining a healthy planet and in turn healthy humans.

They will find themselves mostly in the field doing their work and the day to day tasks vary widely, but everything they do is for one main goal:research.  They spend most of their time conducting research.  A lot of their time is also spent in the laboratory.  But the majority of their work is done on and in  and around the ocean.

Typical Work Schedule

Travel is expected with this job.  Most of this position will be spent in the field and in laboratories.  It is not a typical 40 hour a week position.

Projected Job Growth

The oceans of the world cover the majority of our planet.  Since oceans are such a large environment the science of oceanography and the need for oceanographers is large and vast.

Typical Employers

Typical employers for oceanographers would be governmental agencies such as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), The Navy, Universities and Research Departments and as a consultant for corporate companies.

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How To Become an Oceanographer

To become an oceanographer you will usually need a degree in a relevant subject like oceanography, marine biology, geology ecology, biology or geophysics.  For those with undergraduate degrees positions such as, internships and assistants are available.  More prominent positions in this field usually require a Master’s degree or higher.  However, the undergraduate and entry-level period allows the individual to acquire the mandatory work experience needed for this position and build upon their studies.

Oceanographer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Oceanographer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Oceanographer's can make an average annual salary of $105,720, or $51 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $62,030 or $30 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #55 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Oceanographer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Oceanographers

  • 9.4%   Doctorate
  • 36.8%   Masters
  • 47.1%   Bachelors
  • 2.3%   Associates
  • 4.1%   College
  • 0%   High School
  • 0.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Oceanographer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 3,800 jobs for a total of 40,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 10.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #176 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Oceanographers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Oil and gas extraction 8,000 1,000 1%
Engineering services 6,200 800 1%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 5,300 1,500 2%

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