Oceanographer / Marine Scientist



OFO No: 211402





Other names for Oceanographer:

Geophysical Scientist
Marine Scientist
Physical Oceanographer

What is an Oceanographer?

The life of an Oceanographer requires you to have a lively interest in the sea. 

Being physically fit has a destinct advantage as an Oceanographer could spend some time in the field, or at sea, working under physically challenging conditions.

Oceanographers study the ocean and life within it. The field of marine science is often referred to as oceanography. When describing their work, Oceanographers talk about three different fields of study, namely, physical, chemical and biological oceanography.

Oceanographers who are concerned with all aspects of plant and animal life in the sea are called Biological Oceanographers or Marine Biologists.

Physical Oceanography

The study of the physical properties of seawater and the forces that move it. Ship-based measurements, satellite imagery and automatic monitoring instruments are all used to measure ocean and coastal currents, waves, tides, temperature and salt content (salinity). Marine Scientists who specialize in the field of physical oceanography also study the interaction between the sea and the atmosphere in an effort to demonstrate how  the ocean influences weather and climate.

Chemical oceanography

Concerned with the composition of seawater and the effect of chemicals on the marine environment. Marine scientists who specialize in this field measure, among other things, trace elements, oxygen, major nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates and dissolved organic and inorganic carbon. Marine pollution poses a challenge for marine scientists who may be involved with monitoring the effect that pollution has on the marine environment.

What does an Oceanographer do?

  • does research
  • observes
  • takes notes
  • prepared experiments
  • tracks data
  • discusses findings with other scientists
  • writes reports and scientific papers
  • attend conferences
  • teaches

Are you . . . ?

  • interested in the sea?
  • interested in science?
  • motivated?
  • willing to work a lot on your own?
  • patient?
  • detail orientated?
  • a good communicator?
  • organised?

How do I beccome an Oceanographer?

This will depend what kind of Marine Scientist you’d like to be.

If you are going to be a Physical Oceanographer, for instance, you will study a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Geography.

Or, you may study a BSc in Environmental Management.

Your Honours and Masters and even PhD will depend on what you want to specialise in.



Relevant Honours degree in Entomology

Workplace experience

Registration with the SACNASP: South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions as a Professional Natural Scientist: (Pr.Sci.Nat)


  • CLICK HERE to check for a training institution near you to see what they offer.
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  • CLICK HERE to check accredited Private Higher Education Institutions. 


OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER:  Marine Biologist … or … Ichythologist

Is becoming an Oceanographer the right career choice for me?