We've recently updated our service. Because of this, you'll need to reset your password to log in. It's quick and easy!Reset Password


Study the seas and oceans to help us learn more about the marine environment, plants and animals.

Also known as: marine physicist, marine geologist, marine chemist, marine biologist

About skillsGetting in

About the job


Source: National Careers Service



Entry level





Entry level





Entry level




people are currently employed

High growth

200 more jobs in 5 years

These figures refer to this job and similar ones with comparable skills and qualifications. They only apply to Scotland. Source: Oxford Economics

What it's like

You would study the seas and oceans to help us learn more about the marine environment, plants and animals.

You’d do research, for example, on the effects of climate change or the impact of pollution and offshore engineering on marine life.

There are four branches of oceanography in which you could specialise:

  • Biological – studying marine plants and animals

  • Physical – exploring water temperature, density, wave motion, tides and currents

  • Geological – examining the structure and make-up of the ocean floor

  • Chemical – analysing the chemicals in sea water and the impact of pollutants

You’d collect data to observe and track changes in the marine environment.

You would:

  • Plan and carry out research expeditions

  • Manage a research project and lead a team of researchers and technical staff

  • Prepare scientific equipment at sea or in a laboratory

  • Spend time at sea collecting data and samples

  • Create experiments to test your ideas in the laboratory

  • Use computers to produce models like maps of the ocean floor or populations of marine animals

You’d write reports about your research for publication. You would present your findings to the public and other scientists.

You’d use a variety of scientific equipment to collect samples and data, including:

  • Remote sensors on satellites

  • Instruments on towed or self-powered underwater vehicles

  • Scientific apparatus like sensors on moored or drifting buoys

  • Probes lowered into the sea

  • Drills to collect sediment cores from the seabed

  • Microphones to measure acoustics

  • Marine robots to explore the seabed

  • Diving equipment or submersible vehicles


Your hours of work can vary depending on the project you're working on. You could spend time in a lab or office as well as several days, or even months, at sea


Conditions may be hazardous and physically demanding. This work often includes using diving equipment or submersible vehicles. You could work in a lab or office and on a ship or an offshore platform in a remote location.


When carrying out research, you may work away from your lab or office on a ship or an offshore platform in a remote location.

Explore more information about this job

Here are some useful links to learn more about this career:

Other careers that you might like

  • Astronomer
  • Geoscientist
  • Medical physicist
  • Meteorologist
  • Physicist
  • Climate scientist
  • Astrophysicist
Browse all job profiles

Related industries

Many jobs can be done in lots of different industries. We've highlighted the ones we think are most important for this job.

  • Life sciences
  • Energy
View all industries

Top skills

Skills are things you're good at. Whether you know what yours are or not, everyone has them!

It's useful to learn which ones are important in a job so you know the areas you need to brush up on. It can also help you work out if you're suited to a career.

Here are some of the skills you'll need to do this job:

  • understanding
  • analysing
  • taking initiative
  • sorting
  • attention to detail
  • researching
  • observation
  • problem solving
  • innovative
  • working with technology

Your skills are important

Our unique skillsets are what make us stand out from the crowd. Learn about each skill in depth and discover what employers look for in your applications and interviews.

Discover skills

Getting in

Explore the sections shown for more information about getting into this career.

You might have qualifications which are not shown here but will allow you access to a course. You can compare your qualifications by looking at their SCQF Level. For more information about this, check out the SCQF website.

Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Colleges and universities will list subjects you'll need for entry to a course. Some useful subjects include:

  • Biology

  • Engineering Science

  • Environmental Science

  • Geography

  • Mathematics

  • Physics

  • Skills for Work: Maritime Skills

  • Applications of Mathematics

You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in a relevant subject such as:

  • Oceanography

  • Ocean science 

  • Environmental science

A postgraduate degree (SCQF level 11) in oceanography or marine science is required by some employers.

Entry to an oceanography or marine science degree course (SCQF level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and four to five Highers (SCQF level 6).

To enter a postgraduate qualifications usually requires an honours degree in a relevant subject; some courses also ask for relevant work/voluntary experience.

Qualifications and experience that show a strong interest in science and the environment such as Skills for Work Laboratory Science (SCQF level 5) or Energy (SCQF level 5).

Explore over 22,000 courses in Scotland

Find the perfect course to boost your career.

View all courses

Search jobs and apprenticeships

View work opportunities