Biological Oceanographer Career Profile

Do you want to work as a Biological Oceanographer?

READ: This page helps you to read about the career and the info you need to decide on whether this is indeed the career you want to follow.

RESEARCH: ​Learn about the skills required and minimum subjects to enter this career, as well as the places where you can study further after school.

PREPARE: If you want to plan and prepare for your career, then join the OZT Community! Members have access to tools while chatting with other students and experts from around the world. Prepare to be amazed!


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UPDATED: 23 May 2023

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What is a Biological Oceanographer?

A Biological Oceanographer studies the oceans and how they impact the biological organisms that are dependent on the oceans

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The animals they work with include fish, marine mammals (dolphins, whales etc), reptiles (turtles), crustaceans and mollusks.

Differences between Biological Oceanographer and Marine Biologist

There are certain similarities between the Biological Oceanographer and Marine Biologist careers which can cause confusion.

To learn more about Oceanography and the differences between the two careers, visit the OCEANOGRAPHY page.

Career Categories

The Biological Oceanographer falls within the following Career Categories:

  • Marine Conservation
  • Specialists

What does a Biological Oceanographer do?

Groups of animals a Biological Oceanographer works with

Mammals List Icon OZT
Fish List Icon OZT
Reptiles List Icon OZT
Crustaceans List Icon OZT
Mollusks Link Icon OZT

What is the level of Interaction with the Animals?

What does a Biological Oceanographer focus on?

They will focus on how the ocean impacts an animal’s distribution, how abundant (or otherwise) certain species are, the production of marine species, predation, the impact of fishing and Invasive species.


The work will focus on field work, academic research, laboratory work, consulting, charity, outreach or policy making.

What are the daily tasks of a Biological Oceanographer ?

  • Perform data collection, analysis, and reporting of ocean environmental processes
  • Consider the ecological, biological, chemical, physical, and geological impact of marine life, and vice versa
  • Assist team scientists and engineers with project-related tasks
  • Read current literature and research in the field
  • Perform project management activities
  • Prepare concise and high-quality data figures and summaries
  • Prepare technical reports as part of deliverables for completed work
  • Participate in new proposal efforts to gain support and funding for upcoming projects
  • Use a scientific approach to understanding and interpreting oceanic processes
    Collect, process, evaluate and report on sediment and substrate samples
  • Assist with hydrographic and geophysical surveys, data collection and processing as they impact oceanic biology
  • Create coastal, estuarine, oceanographic, and meteorological observation protocols for survey data
    Prepare and mobilize equipment
  • Collect and report on field observations
  • Prepare permits and regulatory documents
  • Perform literature reviews and background research to stay informed of current developments in the field
  • Perform shoreline and embankment change analysis
  • Report on project status to internal staff and team lead
  • Prepare and deliver presentations to collaborators
  • Prepare written reports including discussions of technical methods, analyze results, and process descriptions


In which Environment does a Biological Oceanographer work in?

What are the environment and places of employment like?

Environment –

Biological Oceanographers  work primarily outdoors, but can spend time indoors doing tests.

Places of Employment –

Most Biological Oceanographers work for research institutions, academia, government, NGOs

What is the Average Salary for a Biological Oceanographer?

The average annual salary of Biological Oceanographers  is US$90,000 but will be different in other countries.

Can a Biological Oceanographer be promoted?

Promotion to senior levels are available in most careers. The levels of each promotion might differ from organization to organization, but generally are the following for Oceanographers who work for an organization:

Junior or Intern > Senior Oceanographer > Head of Department, Manager or Director

What difficulties does a Biological Oceanographer face?

Biological Oceanographers might need to work with animals that can get stressed and difficult to handle. They also might need to work long hours at sea in rough weather.

Future Growth and Possibilities of the Career

Jobs in this field are limited and competition is strong. Annual growth is around 7% per year.

New possibilities are opening for Biological Oceanographers with a focus on conservation education.

Availability of Jobs


Which Skills do Biological Oceanographers need?

The skills required for a career as a Biological Oceanographer can be divided into two very important groups. The first is the group containing life skills, which are the core skills that are necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life. The second group is career skills, or the specific skills required to allow a person to enter and operate effectively within a specific career. Some or maybe even all of the life skills can assist in strengthening the career skills, and they might even be the same for specific careers.

Life Skills:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationship
Life Skills

Career Skills:

  • animal handling
  • animal care
  • good coordination to handle instruments
  • excellent physical health
  • basic customer service
  • computer literacy
Career Skills

Which Subjects must I have at School to help me prepare for this career?

The subjects you choose at school are important as they lay the foundation for further studies at college or university. While still at school, it’s also important to learn more about the animals you will work with, as well as gain some experience.

OZT has a list of various tertiary institutions where you can study further, after school. Each of these institutions also have their own Group page on OZT where you will find the exact subjects they require of you to have passed in school. Keep these requirements in mind, and discuss it with your school, guidance counselor and parents to ensure that you are prepared!

What will I need to Study to become a Biological Oceanographer?

Minimum educational qualification

The minimum required qualification is a Bachelor’s Degree to enter the market and do basic work.

Being able to do intricate field work will require a higher level of education up to Doctorate Degree.

Subject focus

Major – 

The most important subject to focus on will be biology, zoology, or ecology.

Short Courses –

It is important to try and complete as many short courses as possible. You might be allowed to do some of them while still in school.

Study duration

The duration of a Bachelor’s Degrees can be up to 4 years, and another 4 years for a Doctorate. Short Courses are usually between a few weeks and a year.

​Possible Career Preparation Paths

If this is your dream career that you want to pursue, then it’s important to plan the way forward.

Why is planning important?

​To ensure that you understand the requirements for your career, and that you are always prepared for the next step on the road towards your dream. A Preparation Path is like your road map to where you want to be.

Possible Paths:

Possible Combined career paths:

It is possible to sometimes combine two or more related careers. This normally happens when you study and practice a specific main career, but the knowledge and experience gained also help you to have a paying hobby or secondary income career.

Possible Alternatives (there are a lot more):

Training and Apprenticeship

Even though it is important to study to get into some of the animal careers, most of the skills you will need as a Biological Oceanographer will be acquired through practice. This means that you will learn how to perform some of the daily tasks by actually doing it a few times and learning the steps.

Join the Biological Oceanographers Group in the OZT Community to learn more and even interact with the educational institutions that will help you secure your dream career!

Average level of education of those entering the career:

High School Certificate 0%
Diploma or Short Courses 0%
Degree or Higher Studies 0%

Licenses, Certifications, Registrations and Professional Associations

Certain animal careers require some form of legal certification to prove that you can indeed do the work, and work with the necessary equipment.

Learn more about requirements by joining the Community.

Professional Associations

Where can I study further?

All of the above information will help you understand more about the Career, including the fact that there are different paths to take to reach it. But if you are almost done with High School (Grades 11 or 12), you also need to start thinking about further studies, and WHERE you will study.

See the List of Universities, Colleges and Online Training Academies who offer courses towards zoology and biology.

Do you have information that you would like to contribute to this career profile? Please click on the red beetle to access the contribution form.

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Join the OZT community & career Group

Join us as a special member and learn more about becoming a Biological Oceanographer.

Members of the Platform have special access to:

  • Info on the best places where you can study (colleges, universities and online)
  • Expertly designed advice to prepare you for the career, and links to places where you can gain valuable experience. For some career experience is necessary, otherwise you wont get the job!
  • Top notch info on each of the different species you will work with
  • Make friends around the world and share knowledge
  • Compete and win points, badges, games, prizes and certificates. Be the best of the best, while you learn and prepare!


If you have decided on being a Biological Oceanographer, please click on the JOIN GROUP button. Members will be directed to the Group, while non-members will be assisted to register first.

If this career is NOT the career for you, then you may return to the MAIN CAREER menu, and search for something different.

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Career Profiles and Resources

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Contributions by expert members are always appreciated to allow the Students to make informed decisions. Please add your contribution through the attached Form:

Contribution Form

List of Career Mentors/Educators who have contributed to this Career info:


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