An oceanographer is a scientist who studies various aspects of the ocean and the life that lives there. Many people believe that all oceanographer jobs involve people spending their days studying marine animals, swimming in the ocean, and sailing on boats. In reality, most oceanographers do not have such glamorous jobs. The majority of oceanographers spend their days studying water pollutants, amounts of sediment in the water and other scientific topics.
There are four main types of oceanography. They are biological oceanography, physical oceanography, geological oceanography and chemical oceanography. Oceanographer jobs vary according to the type of oceanography the scientist has studied.
Biological oceanography jobs relate to the study of marine life and the way it reacts to pollutants in the water. This type of oceanographer is the one that most people visualize when they think of oceanography. Unfortunately, biological oceanography is a competitive field, with few jobs available.
Physical oceanography jobs deal with ocean currents and tides. They deal with the study of ocean climates, weather, and how light and sound travel through water. This type of oceanography also relates to the relationship between the ocean and climate.
Geological oceanography is the study of the ocean floor and the rocks and sediment found within it. A geological oceanographer will study ocean fossils and how the ocean floor has changed throughout the centuries. This type of oceanographer investigates ocean floor erosion as well.
Chemical oceanography jobs relate to the study of chemicals in the ocean. This kind of oceanographer determines how to remove chemicals from the water. Chemical oceanography also deals with how pollution affects ocean water and the marine life that lives there.
Before becoming an oceanographer, a person must first earn a bachelor's degree in oceanography, math, engineering, biology, chemistry or physics. Aspiring oceanographers should take sufficient courses in English and writing as well, since a large part of an oceanographer's job is to create reports and proposals. Oceanographers give oral presentations as well, so students should take a speech course also.
After earning a bachelor's degree, students attend graduate school to earn an advanced degree for oceanography jobs. Earning a graduate degree provides future oceanographers with opportunities to work in research or teaching. Students who have earned a doctorate or master's degree can find more career paths than those who have only earned undergraduate degrees.