Oceanographer Career Information
What an Oceanographer does
As a Oceanographer, you will be studying the motion and circulation of the ocean waters and their physical and chemical properties, and how these properties affect coastal areas, climate, and weather. In India with its coastline, stretching to over 6500 kms this is an untapped goldmine.
Your job as a Oceanographer, will involve surveying and charting coastal waters and continental shelves. This means that you will be drawing an underwater map of the coastline, which will help fishermen and giant ships alike to navigate through the seas.
Besides, you will also forecast the weather, maintain and decipher marine date, and research the geography of the underwater world.
As a Oceanographer, you will collect samples, use delicate and sophisticated equipment and analyse data. This information will be used to dig up oil and other mineral sources. You will also research different aspects of marine life and their eco systems.
As a Oceanographer, you will utilize your skills to determine how best the resources of the sea can be utilized in areas such as food production.
You could also focus your research on environmental issues such as dumping toxic chemicals in the sea or even become an underwater explorer a la Jacques Cousteau. In short, as a Oceanographer, you will be one with the sea - finding and discovering more about her.
Companies involved in oil and mineral exploration, fishery houses, etc employ oceanographers in a wide spectrum of areas. You will work in their research and development wings.
Similar opening exist in public sector undertaking like ONGC, etc Governmental bodies like the Geological Survey of India and Meteorological Survey of India also employ oceanographers as does the Indian Navy and Coast Guard.
As an Oceanographer, you also have the option of branching into related fields like oil and marine engineering.
Then there are institutes like the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa. You could teach here as well as develop training programmes for students and professionals alike. You could also take part in the numerous research studies undertaken by the institute.
One of the biggest demands for oceanographers is for the search of oil. Privatization of this sector would give this industry a big fillip. The onset of globalization and the demand for power has meant that this sector too is set to fall from the monopoly of the government.
Keeping in view the importance of this field, the Government of India has set up a separate ministry to explore the possibility of living in the seas and oceans. The government is looking at every aspect of the biodiversity of the seas and oceans.
Another major area that is gaining importance worldwide is marine environment. Increased importance is being given to developing methods of solving pollution problems near-the-shore waters due to increasing population and industrial waste. Although this has not really caught on in India, there are many opportunities for Oceanographers abroad.
Also with terrestrial resources diminishing by the day industries are increasingly looking towards the world water reservoirs to fulfill their needs. In countries like Japan for instance a lot of importance is being given to harness the seas as a source of food by developing aqua-farms etc.
Abilities & Traits Required
• It goes without saying that you should be devoid of seasickness! Oceanographers usually spend around six to eight months a year on board vessels.
• So it's definitely not a nine to five job. You need to be an adventurous person in love with nature and the environment. As an Oceanographer, you also need to be patient. This is a research-oriented job and sometimes it can get quite monotonous.
• As an Oceanographer, you cannot however let go of your concentration. Time and tide wait for no man and so you will have to do your job come hell or high water or even the occasional cyclone! You need to be a good observer, detail oriented and a team player.
• As an Oceanographer, you will also require loads of stamina, an adventurous nature, swimming skills and an ability to withstand loneliness.
You can do your BSc in Marine Biology and then go on and do your Master's or Doctorate. You can also jump into the master's or doctorate programme by doing your BSc or MSc in any other science stream.
You could specialize in areas such as Marine Geology, Marine Biology, Chemical Oceanography, Physical Oceanography, Metrology, etc.
You will learn things like composition and quality of water, the surface and subsurface characteristics of coastal regions. You will also study the life process of marine animals.
Usually you will start with a stipend of around Rs 10000 per month. With experience, the pay scales in government organisations rise to around Rs 25000-35000 and work its way up to Rs 45000-55000 a month.
The private sector companies offer better monetary benefits. One of the added advantages of this business is that you get to travel a lot over water and underwater as well! Your research projects could take you to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. As an Oceanographer, you will get to see Mother Nature in all its beauty. This is one thing that you simply cannot put a price tag on.