Job Profile


Oceanographers bring together knowledge from biology, chemistry, physics and geology to study the characteristics of the Earth's seas and oceans. They also use data from remote sensing to research into sea currents and tides.

Oceanography is the study into the physical and biological aspects of the Earth’s oceans and seas and covers a wide range of research topics from looking at ecosystem dynamics to ocean currents and waves.

The diversity of this field means it brings in skills and knowledge from a huge background of sciences including physics, chemistry and biology which are all used to further our understanding of the world's oceans and the processes they undergo.

Depending on your background and interests you can specialise your research in oceanography, the four branches within oceanography are:

  • Physical Oceanography - research into the physical characteristics of the ocean such as the temperature, waves, tide and currents.
  • Geological - study of the geology of the ocean floor which includes the study of plate tectonics and their processes
  • Chemical - investigating the chemical make-up of the oceans and how it changes between different regions
  • Biological - looking at the ecology of marine organisms

The work undertaken by oceanographers is primarily research based and greatly depends on the what you specialise in but with the technology that is being developed you could end up working on big missions such as the Surface water and Ocean Topography mission that is scheduled to launch in 2021 with the aim to survey 90% of the Earth’s ocean water. 

Skills of an Oceanographer

The skills required of an oceanographer can be highly varied depending on your specialism however there are some skills that are important across all the fields such as:

  • Data analysis
  • Computer skills
  • problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Communication

Routes into Oceanography

More and more undergraduate degrees in oceanography are becoming available, which would be highly desired. Degrees in related subjects are also very useful such as ocean science, maths, geology, biology, chemistry or environmental science. Many oceanographers also then pursue a master’s degree, although not essential it is highly desirable to hold a PhD.



Emma Collier

Emma studies Physics with Astronomy at the University of Southampton.

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