Oceanography is an interdisciplinary field combining the study of the planet's marine environments with regard to biology, chemistry and geography. Marine geology includes topics like plate tectonics and shoreline development, while physical oceanography involves the study of ocean movements with regard to temperature, icebergs and waves. Students in biological oceanography programs focus on plants, animals and other life forms in the world's oceans. Program specializations are widely available and typically include marine geology, physical oceanography and biological oceanography.
Bachelor's Degree in Oceanography
Oceanography programs typically involve a mixture of classroom-based study, laboratory work and field research, which may include spending significant time at sea. To be admitted, students must have a high school diploma. Previous coursework in earth science, geology and biology is helpful but not required. Students may study topics such as field oceanography, ocean climates and ocean conservation; that said, coursework varies significantly by specialization, as the field is very broad. Common courses may include the following:
- Introduction to ocean science
- Ocean circulation systems
- Marine organisms
- Deep-sea exploration
- Current issues in oceanography
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Oceanographers are a type of geoscientist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 31,000 geoscientists were employed in 2018 (www.bls.gov). Job opportunities for oceanographers and other geoscientists were expected to grow 6% between 2018 and 2028. As of May 2018, geoscientists earned a mean annual wage of $107,800. Those employed by the federal government earned an average salary of $102,580.
Continuing Education Information
Additional education in oceanography is available at the graduate level in the form of master's and Ph.D. programs. Though entry-level careers are possible for those who hold a bachelor's degree, graduate-level study is often required for more advanced research and teaching positions. Certification is generally not required for a career in oceanography, though some oceanographers earn SCUBA diving certification to aid in their fieldwork.
Bachelor's degrees in oceanography are for students hoping to pursue a career studying marine life and environment. Through this program, students will learn about marine organisms, ocean science, and ocean circulation systems.