How to Become a Chemical Oceanographer


Becoming a chemical oceanographer might be a great career choice for you if you have a scientific mind, an interest in the environment, you enjoy travel and you have a strong work ethic.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get started in this field. We've also included helpful information for a career as a chemical oceanographer, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Chemical Oceanographer

To succeed in this profession, you'll need a graduate level education, either a Master of Science (M.Sc.) or a doctoral degree (PhD) in oceanography, marine biology, biochemistry, hydrogeology or a closely related field.


Having a Bachelor’s of Science degree (B.Sc.) in any of the aforementioned fields typically enables you to work in research assistant or technician positions. 





Job Description of a Chemical Oceanographer 

Chemical oceanographers are responsible for studying the occurrence and movement of chemicals in the ocean. They must also study the effects that contaminants pose on marine life, and the chemical processes operating in the ocean, sea floor and marine atmosphere.


Chemical oceanographers apply their knowledge to a variety of fields, such as pollution control, climate change and assessing the quality of fish and fish products.



Typical Duties of the Job

• Plan and conduct field and laboratory research

• Record detailed notes during the research process

• Prepare reports based on conclusions, and present to funding bodies if applicable

• Defend conclusions of research against critics

• Analyze seawater components, the effects of pollutants, and the impacts of chemical processes on marine organisms

• Assist in establishing policy on coastal and marine environments and resources



Further Training Requirements

Although professional certification is not typically mandatory, many practitioners choose to obtain certification voluntarily. Earning professional certification can have many benefits, including:


• Demonstrating commitment to the profession of chemical oceanography

• May be required to obtain senior level positions

• Employers value certification

• Being a certified professional may entitle you to a higher salary


Please visit the websites of professional groups such as the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) or the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in order to obtain more information about professional certification in chemical oceanography and related professions.



Who Employs Chemical Oceanographers?

• Colleges and universities

• Environmental and engineering consulting firms

• Federal government laboratories

• Marine science institutions

• Marine transport companies

• National Defence Research establishments

• Private corporations

• Private research institutions



Salary Levels Typical to This Profession

Chemical Oceanographer Salary - Canada: According to ECO Canada, the average yearly salary for entry-level Oceanographers in Canada is $44,000, and more experienced oceanographers typically earn between $64,000 and $78,000 per year.


Chemical Oceanographer Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in the Geoscientists occupational group is $82,500 per year (2010 figures).





Personality Characteristics Needed

• A curious and inquiring mind

• An interest in nature and the environment

• An aptitude for the physical sciences and the scientific process

• Analytical abilities

• Ability to use logic to solve problems

• The ability to communicate ideas clearly in writing, orally and in presentations

• The ability to apply theoretical concepts to the analysis of large volumes of information

• The ability to work individually or in a team setting

• Physical stamina needed to conduct fieldwork



Actual Job Postings

Our job board below has "Chemical Oceanographer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.


Careers Related to This One

Listed below are occupations for which we have career guides in our database that are similar 'chemical oceanographer', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.



Environmental Scientist

Fluvial Geomorphologist


Soil Scientist




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career in this field.


Occupations in Alberta:Oceanographer.” (March 23, 2016). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 3, 2019.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Geoscientists.” (September 19, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 3, 2019.

Ocean Facts:What Does an Oceanographer Do?” AGCAS editors (n.d.). National Ocean Service website. Retrieved November 3, 2019.

Career Profiles:Oceanographer.” (n.d.). ECO Canada website. Retrieved November 3, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Chemical Oceanographer

Scholarships in our database that are relevant to becoming a chemical oceanographer are those listed on the following pages:


Biochemistry Scholarships

Chemistry Scholarships

Environmental Science Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are literally millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every single year due to a lack of applicants.



Relevant Fields of Post-Secondary Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting started in this profession.


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