- The job: Oceanographers use their knowledge of geology and geophysics, in addition to biology and chemistry, to study the world's oceans and coastal waters. They study the motion and circulation of the ocean waters; the physical and chemical properties of the oceans; and how these properties affect coastal areas, climate, and weather. Oceanographers are further broken down according to their areas of expertise. For example, physical oceanographers study the tides, waves, currents, temperatures, density, and salinity of the ocean. They examine the interaction of various forms of energy, such as light, radar, sound, heat, and wind, with the sea, in addition to investigating the relationship among the sea, weather, and climate.
- Outlook: Employment growth of 22 percent for geoscientists is expected between 2006 and 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. The need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and water management will spur employment demand.
- Experience: A bachelor's degree is adequate for a few entry-level positions, but most geoscientists need a master's degree in geology or earth science. A master's degree is the preferred educational requirement for most entry-level research positions in private industry, federal agencies, and state geological surveys. A Ph.D. is necessary for most high-level research and college teaching positions, but it may not be preferred for other jobs.
- The not-so-good: Oceanographers may spend considerable time at sea on academic research ships. Fieldwork often requires working long hours. Geoscientists may face layoffs during periods of economic recession.
- Pay: Median annual earnings of geoscientists were $72,660 in May 2006. In 2007, the federal government's average salary was $93,461 for oceanographers.
Learn more: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos288.htm
This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.