I once wrote an article entitled “Oceans: Earth’s Final Frontier” in which I cited the statistic that, despite covering 70% of the earth’s surface, only 5% of oceans have been explored by humans. It is no surprise then that so many people are fascinated by the oceans. As a fellow ocean lover, I understand why one may be enamored of the mysteries, the possibilities for exploration, the need for protection, and the ability to manipulate the ecosystem for use for human progress. The possibilities for working with the ocean are limitless.
Careers involving working with the ocean can be split into a few categories: those who ask questions, those who solve problems, those who make and interpret laws, those who harness the resources of the ocean, and those who disperse all of this information. At the same time, marine careers are incredibly interdisciplinary. For example, there are engineers who work in the shipping industry and ship masters, deck officers, and seamen who can work on boats used for shipping, fishing, or research.
It can be overwhelming looking for job opportunities in the marine sciences, or in any field. So in an attempt to put all of that information in one space, here is a basic description of some of the many careers involving the oceans and advice for finding your way to a career path in the big blue.
- Marine biologists, geologists, seismologists, climate scientists, chemists, and more study life in the ocean – what is in that 95% which hasn’t been explored by humans? – as well as the chemical and physical properties of the ocean and how they change over time and space, how we impact the ocean, and how the ocean impacts us.
- Architects and engineers work with infrastructure, marine research technology, and transportation – how do we build a better, safer, cleaner ship, submarine, or hydrophone (an underwater sound recorder)? How do we build around a coastline, build docks, bridges, or ports?
- Lawyers work on environmental protection in the ocean or legal protection of shipping and fishing boats and policy makers in local and national governments legislate what can and can’t be done with the oceans.
- Educators work as formal and informal teachers at schools and organizations like zoos and museums and also as journalists writing about the oceans to spread public awareness.
- Jobs in the shipping industry include:
- Buying and selling boats, determining cargo, banking and more
- Working on a boat as a cadet, officer, master, seaman, or engineer
- Working with which ships come in and out of ports and what they bring in and take out
- Environmental consultants for the maritime industry, energy companies, or other businesses that use the ocean
- Cartographers work with scientists studying the ocean floor or with shipping routes to help us map out the ocean.
- The energy industry works with the ocean for offshore oil drilling or harnessing energy from the wind or the water – oceans are often home to large wind turbines.
- Non-profit corporations and non-government organizations work to protect the oceans and hire from all of these positions to work cohesively around the marine world.
Working with, for, on, and near the ocean is all about exploration and discovery, no matter which of the above careers you pursue. For that reason, I offer this advice to the budding ocean lover, advice I myself am trying to follow: take time to discover yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, your favorite things, and your least favorite things. Go out and explore.