The field of oceanography deals with topics that pertain to the oceans and waterways of the world, but the topics within that broader category can vary significantly, as can oceanographer education. Generally, all students of oceanography will study life sciences as well as chemistry, mathematics, and environmental topics, though the focus on one's oceanographer education can vary depending on what career field he or she wants to enter after graduation. Candidates must graduate from high school or earn an equivalent qualification, and he or she should have strong math and science skills.
A bachelor's degree or higher will be necessary in order to become an oceanographer. One's oceanographer education will generally start with a bachelor's degree, which will cover a wide variety of topics including chemistry, biology, physics, environmental studies, and mathematics. Students may also be required to take some technical writing classes, as the students are likely to produce various scientific papers for publishing or for assignments. While an undergraduate student, it may be necessary to further one's oceanographer education by taking part in an internship. Internships are usually unpaid, temporary work positions that allow students to gain valuable work experience in a particular field. A student participating in an internship is likely to work with experienced oceanographers in a variety of settings, from laboratories to classrooms, or even on open ocean waters.
Once the student completes his or her undergraduate oceanographer education, he or she will be qualified for some positions in the oceanography field, though many jobs will require the student to earn a higher degree such as a master's degree or a PhD. The student will therefore have two general options: continuing his or her education immediately after graduating with a bachelor's degree, or working in the field for a period of time and then earning a higher degree at a later date. He or she can also begin work on a master's degree part time, taking classes online or in person during off hours.
Working in the field for a period of time after graduation is a good idea because the student will be able to hone his or her focus within the oceanography field and determine if more oceanographer education is necessary in order to obtain his or her career goals. This is also a good opportunity to make valuable connections with employers and colleagues within the industry that may prove useful later on in one's career.