While there are just five oceans in the world, the masses of water take up 141,600,000 square miles and 72 percent of the earth’s surface, according to the ReefNews website. Tasked with studying, tracking and experimenting with that massive amount of water are oceanographers, who study the sea. Oceanographers concentrate not just on the water but the plants and sea life within it, plus the weather and tides, making “waves” for their salaries.
Oceanographers dove into annual salaries averaging $79,160 across the country in 2008, per the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, but those salaries varied widely by industry. For example, in 2009, the Federal Government paid its oceanographers $105,671 per year and the petroleum merchant wholesalers industry paid an average of $139,740.
Swimming to where the money is may help oceanographers pad their salaries, though the most obvious waterlogged areas aren’t always the most fruitful. In 2009, the Department of Labor rated the state of Texas as the highest paying state for oceanographers, with an annual mean wage of $127,250. In close second and third place were the District of Columbia ($107,160) and Alaska ($104,410).
Earning a salary as an oceanographer isn’t as simple as a jump into the surf. A minimum investment of a bachelor’s degree (such as oceanography or biology) is required, though employers may request a master’s degree or higher. Employers may also request candidates to have prior experience in the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) fields.
The opportunity to attain a salary as an oceanographer doesn’t look all wet; the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 18 percent rise in employment through the year 2018, adding approximately 5,900 new jobs.