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Last Updated: April 27, 2021

What is Oceanography?

Oceanography is an interdisciplinary course that deals with the study of the ocean which ranges from the coastal regions to the deepest trenches in the world including the study of the sea bed and even underwater volcanic eruptions. This field of study lets a person interested in science learn about 71% of the Earth and covers subjects from other fields like meteorology, geophysics, and ocean engineering where students can traverse through chemistry, geology, biology, and all other factors that affect the ocean.

Working as an Oceanographer is a high-paying job that is apt for people who have a strong liking for an adventurous lifestyle that takes them away from 9 to 5 office jobs. At the same time, the tasks they have to face cannot be taken lightly since their travels are often always filled with danger and uncomfortable locations since they might most often be always at sea.

Candidates who opt for the job will have the opportunity to study the ocean which is still a vastly unexplored area and also deal with problems like climate change, pollution, the role of the ocean in waste management on land, and other factors that cause distress to marine life.

Why Study Oceanography?

Studying Oceanography is one of those options that people who are interested in biology, chemistry, geology, and physics all at once can do especially if they prefer hands-on research on topics rather than pure textbook-based approaches. But attempting to study Oceanography is a long-term commitment since candidates who have completed a bachelor’s degree in Oceanography will still have to study forward and take a Master’s and Ph.D. in the subject in order to receive the handsome paychecks that Oceanographers generally receive.

Despite the commitment, studying the subject offers a deeper insight into the problems of the ocean which are mostly man-made and require immediate attention. This includes studying the pollutants and waste disposal arrangements of most of the world which have been affecting the oceans adversely. In a way, Oceanographers are the safe keepers of the ocean and the job will offer the candidate a life of adventure far removed from the mundane tasks of on-land jobs.

In short, the job as an Oceanographer offers enough and more pay for the adventures the candidates have to take and as a bonus, they will be able to learn more about what affects the world and how the resources from the ocean can be sustainably used.

Different Types of Oceanography

Oceanography has a total of four branches which often overlap each other in the study but have been categorized for enabling compartmentalized learning of the same due to the vastness of the subject. The four categories are-

Educational Qualification for an Oceanographer

In order to become an Oceanographer, students will have to take their Bachelor’s degree in Oceanography of any of the basic sciences which can initiate them into the field. At the same time, it is necessary that students have an understanding of basic math and science which can aid them in their endeavor.

Once they have taken their bachelor’s degree in oceanography, biology, physics, geology, marine geology, or chemistry they will be able to take up internships that can give them experience in the field before they can enter research. Students can focus their major or minor in subjects like hydrology, environmental, or geoscience in order to learn more about the field they are entering and as an extra bonus on their resume.

It is while entering the research area that students get to choose their specialization depending on their area of interest. Most colleges have specializations in research based on the four types of Oceanography. The schools that offer degree programs in Oceanography are way less when compared to schools that offer research courses and hence students often take courses only in basic sciences while taking up other related minor courses before moving on to their Ph.D.

Top-10 Best Graduate Schools for Oceanography

The number of colleges offering a Bachelor’s degree in Oceanography is less compared to the colleges offering graduate programs in the same subject. This list of graduate schools has the top-most graduate programs in Oceanography that the country has seen and though the list keeps changing in order according to the yearly progress the colleges make, these colleges often always make the list of the best due to their reputation, the different programs they offer and their student to faculty ratio.

Skills Required to be an Oceanographer

Oceanographers need to have a very specific skill set in order to excel in their field of work since they will be required to do both lab work and fieldwork where the field is technically the ocean under different weather conditions. The basic skills required are-
Other skills they generally require are communication, problem-solving, physical strength, and critical thought all of which are essential for Oceanographers.

Duties of an Oceanographer

Since there are different fields in Oceanography, it might seem like the duties each of them has are drastically different from each other. But despite their specialization, they have common duties to perform with regard to their research.

Working as an Oceanographer

Oceanographers are the people who study marine life, conduct researches based on the different biological elements in the sea, and also examine the oceans in the different ways they are trained to. The forte of an Oceanographer is in the fieldwork they are required to do which surpasses the number of lab hours and other on-land working hours they have to complete. This provides them with the opportunity of being at sea for the most part of their work.

Though the work has an adventurous streak to it, the dangers associated with the job are plenty since the organisms these researchers have to deal with are often unheard of and the journeys that they take are filled with strenuous physical labor that can put both the researcher and other companions in danger.

The trips they take are all educational experiences that extend their period of education from the time they have graduated to every day they spend working and they are expected to contribute to the scientific society by contributing their studies for the study of others. At the same time, there are also people who after a few years of working in the field come back to settle with a teaching profession in the job.

Salary Specifications of an Oceanographer

Due to the dangers involved in the job and the amount of time they have to spend in cramped spaces while at sea along with the research involved that can benefit society as a whole, this job is a high-paying one. Oceanographers who have taken only their Bachelor’s degree and are working in the government sector in sections like fisheries have a relatively less salary when compared to those who are more qualified.

Oceanographers often get approximately $90,890 every year and this is the amount provided to the researchers who do not generally contribute to the petroleum extraction industry. Those who work for the petroleum extraction industry, if they have an Oceanography degree, generally earn high than even government employees.

More Universities Offering Graduate Programs in Oceanography

While studying Oceanography, even though studying at the top universities can offer a better career reach, it is to be understood that this job field is only going to increase in its demand for workers over the years to come. This offers aspirants all the reasons to study for the same through any of the colleges and universities listed below providing them with the adventurous and well-paying career that Oceanography is in reality. The universities are-

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