One key environmental science career is that of Oceanographer. An oceanographer studies all aspects of the ocean, including weather, currents, and sea life. This career can include specialist knowledge from a number of different fields of science, including chemistry, geology, physics, biology, and geography, as well as non-science related fields such as politics and economics. Because oceanographers study all aspects of the world’s oceans, a career in this field is often multidisciplinary and collaborative (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, n.p.).
Because of the importance of field-work to a career in oceanography, oceanographers are constrained in where they can work in that they need to have access to the ocean. However, because the ocean covers nearly 70% of the Earth’s surface, there is a wide variety of regions and areas in which oceanographers can work. Oceanography often involves extensive travel, meaning that it may not be possible to work in only one settled location or area (EnvironmentalScience.org, n.p.).
There are many different types of organization who may have positions for oceanographers. Private companies, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and research and teaching facilities, for example, might all have need for skilled oceanographers, whether to fill posts in research, teaching, or field-work. In terms of teaching, positions exist with research facilities and universities in positions teaching the next generation of oceanographers. In these institutions, research positions also exist which seek to develop knowledge in the discipline. Research is not only limited to academia either: in the private or government sectors, oceanographers might find research work supporting industries such as shipping, fishing, or oil and mining (StateUniversity.com, n.p.).
To begin a career as an oceanographer, it is necessary to have either a BA in oceanography, or a BA majoring in a related science field such as biology or chemistry together with classes in oceanography. This type of degree will enable a graduate to compete for entry-level positions. To teach or conduct research as an oceanographer, however, it is necessary to earn a doctorate in oceanography (MyPursuit, n.p.). This means that it may take up to eight years of education or more to be qualified for top positions in this field.
The average salary for an oceanographer varies depending on “place of employment, geographical area and applicable skills” (MyPursuit, n.p.). In May 2006, the average salary for oceanographers in the United States was over $72,000 per annum, with top salaries in the United States in excess of $100,000 per annum. For individuals employed in oceanographer positions with the U.S. Federal government, the average salary was just over $93,000 per annum (MyPursuit, n.p.).
Oceanographers are instrumental in overcoming many different and varied environmental issues. Biological oceanographers, for example, may conduct research which addresses issues of biodiversity and conservation, while chemical oceanographers might conduct research to help tackle the problem of pollution. Chemical oceanographers might also conduct research into ocean resources, helping to tackle issues such as fuel sustainability, into ocean currents and their effects on climate, thereby contributing to dialogues on climate change and global warming (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, n.p.).
Perhaps the most important environmental issue that oceanographers can hep to overcome is the issue of resource management and biodiversity. The ocean, comprising almost 70% of the planet’s surface, is a vast resource, and much of what it contains is still unknown to human beings. The work of oceanographers in biology and chemistry in particular can help unlock the secrets and potential of the ocean, potentially relieving some of the pressure on land-based resources as well as helping to reveal options of more responsible use of the planet’s resources (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, n.p.).
- EnvironmentalScience.org. “What is an Oceanographer?” EnvironmentalSceince.org. EnvironmentalScience.org, 2017. Web. 17 January, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.environmentalscience.org/career/oceanographer.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “What Does an Oceanographer Do?” National Ocean Service. U.S. Department of Commerce, 3 June, 2014. Web. 17 January, 2017. Retrieved from: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/oceanographer.html.
- MyPursuit. “Oceanographer.” MyPursuit. MyPursuit, 2017. Web. 17 January, 2017. Retrieved from: http://www.mypursuit.com/careers-99-0056.00/Oceanographer.html.
- StateUniversity.com. “Oceanographer Job Description, Career as an Oceanographer, Salary, Employment – Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job.” StateUniversity,com. State University, 2017. Web. 17 January, 2017. Retrieved from: http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/73/Oceanographer.html.