What does a Oceanographer do?
Oceanographers study the seas and oceans, conducting
research into the effects of climate change, or the impact
of pollution and offshore engineering on marine
ecosystems. Oceanographers use a variety of
techniques to collect data, including the use of: remote
sensors on satellites; instruments on towed or self-
powered submersibles; apparatus on moored or drifting
buoys; probes lowered into the sea; drilling into the
seabed and acoustics.
There are four main
biology - the study of marine plants and
- marine chemistry -
the study of the chemical composition of seawater
- marine geology - the study of the
structure and composition of the ocean floor
marine physics - the study of
properties such as water temperature and density,
wave motion, tides and currents.
oceanographer will often employ a multi-disciplinary
approach to their work, applying elements from some or
all of the specialisms in order to conclude their research.
What's the working environment like working as a Oceanographer?
Hours worked will depend on the project being
undertaken. Much of an oceanographer’s work is based
in laboratories or offices, but fieldwork can involve
several days to some months at sea, either on a
research ship or on offshore platforms, often in remote
locations and in potentially hazardous or physically
have to go into the sea using diving equipment or
What does it take to become a Oceanographer?
To be an oceanographer, you should:
strong mathematical and scientific skills including
observational, practical, research, and problem
- have the flexibility to go beyond subject
- be accurate and meticulous
- have good physical health and fitness for
- be able to work alone and with
- have excellent oral and written
- be prepared to travel.
Oceanographer Career Opportunities
Employment is mainly research based, with most UK
posts offered by centres that are wholly or partly funded
by the Natural Environment Research Council. These
- Southampton Oceanography Centre
- Centre for Coastal Marine Sciences
Mammal Research Unit
- British Antarctic
- British Geological Survey.
national organisations that employ oceanographers
include environmental protection agencies, the Royal
Navy, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Environment
Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Opportunities also arise
in industries or consultancies concerned with the
extraction of offshore oil and gas, offshore and coastal
constructions and marine instrumentation.
There may also be opportunities to work in
universities, and abroad.
organisations, internal promotion prospects are usually
limited and short contracts from one to five years are
If you would like to know anything about Oceanographer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
North Star Avenue
Tel: 01793 411500
www.nerc.ac.ukSociety for Underwater Technology (SUT)
80 Coleman Street
Tel: 020 7382 2601