There are at least five different types of oceanographers: physical, geological,
biological and chemical oceanographers as well as oceanographic engineers.
Oceanographers often work in remote locations. Research can take them to
the Arctic Sea, the tropical bays of Belize or to the mid-Atlantic. They can
be away from home for long periods of time.
Due to the fieldwork in this job, oceanographers need to be physically
"Working at sea requires a person to be without handicaps," says oceanographer
Ed Dever in San Diego. "Even some conditions that are fairly benign on land
-- diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma -- require special attention at
Although work at sea would be difficult for many physically challenged
people, some oceanographers work exclusively in an office on computer models
or with archived data.
Oceanographers with doctoral degrees often work as university or college
professors. Or they may work at research institutes.
These days, oceanographers are also finding work outside the traditional
places like universities or research institutions.
"These careers include teaching positions at smaller colleges, positions
with government agencies, science journalism and working with non-governmental
organizations, such as the Sierra Club," says Dever.
Hours of work will vary. Out at sea, oceanographers work as members of
scientific teams. They work rotating shifts, seven days a week. Many research
projects require oceanographers to spend weeks -- or even months -- at sea
on research vessels.
When they get home, oceanographers who lead research projects or hold teaching
positions usually work at least 40 hours a week.
Study the physical nature of the ocean