Jobs that Involve the Ocean

Jan 19, 2020

The ocean provides a wide range of career opportunities in several different job fields. Learn about some of the career options, their median salaries, expected job growth rates and education requirements.

Career Options that Involve the Ocean

There are several careers in different fields that involve some aspect of the vast oceans of our world. These careers range from studying the ocean or its components, harvesting resources from the oceans, working to protect them and more. Below we look at a handful of the available careers that involve the ocean in some way.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists $63,420 5%
Geoscientists $91,130 6%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $71,130 8%
Fishers and Related Fishing Workers $28,530 (2017) -2% (Decline) (Fishing and Hunting Workers)
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects $92,560 9%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Jobs Involving the Ocean

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Some zoologists or wildlife biologists may specialize in studying one or some of the numerous marine animals found in the Earth's oceans. For example, teuthologists study octopuses and other cephalopods, cetologists study whales and other mammals found in the ocean and ichthyologists study fish. These scientists may also study oceanic ecosystems to better understand how animals in these environments interact, as well as how humans have impacted these habitats. Zoologists and wildlife biologists may make observations and conduct experiments to collect data to analyze and then publish their findings in scientific papers and presentations. They usually need at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant field, but may need an advanced degree, such as a master's or Ph.D., for research positions.


Geoscientists study various characteristics of the Earth, and oceanographers, a type of geoscientist, specialize in studying the oceans. Oceanographers may conduct studies looking at how ocean waters move, chemical components of the ocean, oceanic effects on climate and weather and more. In general, geoscientists may collect various samples to analyze and use to update geologic maps and create detailed reports. Most geoscientists need at least a bachelor's degree in geology (or a related subject that includes geology in the curricula) and may be required to obtain a state license.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Some environmental scientists and specialists may conduct their work in oceanic and marine areas to prevent and correct environmental damage and pollution of these areas. These scientists typically collect samples of the water, soil, air, plants and sometimes wildlife in the area to analyze them for contaminants and try to find any environmental threats. If problems or threats are identified, they work to correct these issues and find ways to prevent these issues from occurring again, including working with policymakers and the public. Environmental scientists and specialists must have a bachelor's degree in a related science field, including environmental science, chemistry and biology.

Fishers and Related Fishing Workers

Fishers and fishing workers catch fish, shellfish, crabs, lobsters and more in different bodies of water, including the oceans. These workers use special navigating and fish-finding equipment to locate schools of fish that they typically catch in nets from their boats. Fishers must make sure that all of their catches fall within legal size limits and are species that are allowed to be harvested. They do not need a formal education (though graduating from a vocational program in fishery technology may increase their job prospects) and usually learn the trade while they are on the job.

Marine Engineers and Naval Architects

Marine engineers and naval architects design and build a variety of ships and submarines that must be able to function and perform well in the ocean. Marine engineers usually specialize in designing, inspecting, testing and repairing marine equipment like electrical systems and propulsion systems. Naval architects work more with the overall design of a ship to ensure that it floats, meets safety standards and is stable. There are college programs in both marine engineering and naval architecture, and both professions usually need a bachelor's degree. Some experience in the field is desired by many employers.

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