Is becoming an oceanographer right for me?

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What do oceanographers do?

Still unsure if becoming an oceanographer is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an oceanographer or another similar career!

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How to become an Oceanographer

Becoming an oceanographer involves a combination of education, practical experience, and networking. Here are the general steps to pursue a career as an oceanographer:

  • Educational Background: Start by earning a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as oceanography, marine science, marine biology, environmental science, or a related discipline. Coursework in physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics is often essential.
  • Specialization and Advanced Education: Decide on a specific area of oceanography that aligns with your interests, such as physical oceanography, chemical oceanography, biological oceanography, or marine geology.
  • Pursue a Master's or Ph.D.: While some entry-level positions may be available with a bachelor's degree, obtaining a master's or doctoral degree is often necessary for research-focused roles and career advancement in oceanography.
  • Research and Internship Experience: Seek out internships, research assistant positions, or volunteer opportunities in oceanographic laboratories, research institutions, or government agencies. This hands-on experience will enhance your skills and provide valuable insights into the field.
  • Networking and Professional Involvement: Participate in relevant conferences, workshops, and seminars to connect with professionals in the field, stay updated on current research, and build a network of contacts. Become a member of organizations like the American Geophysical Union (AGU), The Oceanography Society (TOS), or the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) to access resources, conferences, and networking opportunities.
  • Job Search and Application: Keep an eye on job listings from academic institutions, government agencies, private companies, and research organizations. Websites like and academic job boards can be valuable resources. Craft a compelling resume and cover letter that highlight your education, research experience, and skills relevant to the specific position you are applying for.
  • Continuing Education and Professional Development: Keep up-to-date with advancements in oceanography through scientific literature, online resources, and continued education opportunities. Depending on your specialization, there may be certifications or training programs that can enhance your professional credentials.

Certifications are often available in specialized areas within oceanography. Here are some relevant certifications that oceanographers may consider:

  • Scientific Diving Certification: Offered by organizations such as the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), scientific diving certification is essential for oceanographers who conduct research underwater. This certification ensures that individuals are trained to safely and effectively carry out scientific activities in aquatic environments.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP): Although not specific to oceanography, the PMP certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) can be valuable for oceanographers involved in project management aspects of research initiatives. It demonstrates expertise in planning, executing, and managing projects efficiently.
  • Environmental Data Management Certification: Certifications related to environmental data management and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can be beneficial for oceanographers involved in data analysis and interpretation. Organizations like the GIS Certification Institute offer GIS Professional (GISP) certification.
  • Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Pilot Certification: For oceanographers working with ROVs, obtaining certification as an ROV pilot can be advantageous. The Marine Technology Society (MTS) offers a Certified ROV Pilot Technician program.
  • Emergency First Responder Certification: Oceanographers engaged in fieldwork or offshore research may benefit from certifications in emergency first response, such as CPR and basic life support. Organizations like the American Red Cross provide relevant training.
  • Hyperbaric Chamber Operator Certification: For oceanographers involved in diving or underwater research, certification as a hyperbaric chamber operator can be important for understanding the effects of pressure on the human body. The National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology (NBDHMT) offers relevant certifications.

Helpful Resources
Oceanographers have access to a variety of resources that can aid in their research, professional development, and networking. Here are some helpful resources for oceanographers:

  • The Oceanography Society (TOS): TOS is a leading organization for oceanographers, offering conferences, publications, and networking opportunities.
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU): AGU provides a platform for sharing research, collaboration, and professional development in the Earth and space sciences, including oceanography.
  • American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO): ASLO focuses on the study of freshwater and marine systems, providing resources, conferences, and publications.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): NOAA is a key agency for oceanographers, offering research opportunities, data, and information on weather, climate, and ocean conditions.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF): NSF funds a significant portion of oceanographic research in the U.S., providing grants and supporting various projects.
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI): WHOI is a renowned research institution in oceanography, offering research opportunities, educational programs, and collaborative projects.
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography: Part of the University of California, San Diego, Scripps is a leading institution for oceanographic research, education, and exploration.
  • Journal of Physical Oceanography: A peer-reviewed journal covering research on the physical processes in the ocean.
  • Limnology and Oceanography: The journal of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, publishing research on freshwater and marine systems.
  • Ocean Data View (ODV): A software tool for the visualization and analysis of oceanographic data.
  • Oceanographic Data Repositories: Organizations like NOAA provide access to a wealth of oceanographic data through online databases.
  • Ocean Sciences Meeting: A joint meeting organized by AGU, ASLO, and TOS, providing a platform for presenting research and networking.
  • International Conference on Underwater Acoustics (ICUA): A conference focused on underwater acoustics, relevant for oceanographers involved in marine acoustics research.
  • Ocean Careers Resources: Provided by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, this website offers information on careers in oceanography and related fields.
  • Ocean Education Resources: NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research provides educational resources for students and educators interested in oceanography.