Career Paths That Will Lead You to the Ocean

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If being on, near, or in the ocean on a regular basis tickles your fancy, you'll be happy to know that there are a number of career paths that will lead you straight to a daily oceanic experience. Here is an overview of some of the more interesting options out there.

Deep-Sea Diver

If you love spending your time in the depths of the deep blue, there are a number of ways to make a living at it. You could save lives being an advanced diver medic. You could become a marine diving technician and get involved with the construction, research and the worldwide development of marine resources. You could also be a commercial diver, which would allow you to do anything from leading private, underwater adventure expeditions to rigging deep-sea explosives.

Underwater Filmmaker or Photographer

If you're into giving the public access to that which is not ordinarily seen, a career as an ocean photographer or filmmaker might be for you. Along with being a decent diver, you will also have to have a solid understanding of lighting and angles, as well as the equipment necessary to convey that breathtaking imagery. Magazines, television stations and movie producers are often looking for underwater film and photography specialists.

Work With Marine Animals

Here again, there are numerous career paths a person could take if they were interested in working with marine life. The most obvious choice would be to be a marine biologist, which would allow you to study all kinds of marine life in whichever fashion you're interested in doing so. You could also be a marine animal trainer, a wildlife veterinarian who specializes in marine life, or even a fish and game warden protecting marine life from unscrupulous humans.

Oceanographer

Oceanographers study ocean currents and flux, waves, plate tectonics and marine ecosystems. There are four main subdivisions of oceanography: chemical oceanography (the chemistry of seawater, extracting pollutants, etc.), geological oceanography (study of seafloor structures and changes throughout time), physical oceanography (study of waves, tides, currents and the ocean-atmosphere relationship) and biological oceanography (study of the various forms of ocean life).

From the subject of oceanography, you can also get into ocean engineering, marine archeology and marine policy. This interdisciplinary work requires a good background in at least one area of basic science (physics, biology, chemistry, etc.) as well as a solid head for mathematics. If this is you, you can count on job offers from governmental organizations, oceanographic institutions, and universities alike.

Atmospheric Scientist or Climate Researcher

Scientists in this category study how the relationship between the ocean, the atmosphere, and the land affects the climate systems of the world. You might study the buildup of pollutants or greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, conduct research on monsoon variability, or attempt to predict weather patterns for a coastal region. This field also requires a strong head for mathematics.

Ocean Education Advocate

While there is a great need for scientists doing research and developing recommendations, there is also a great need for science-smart people on the public-facing side too. Whether this means joining an ocean conservancy agency as a program specialist or leading tours as a marine life identification guide, there is work to be had in ocean education advocacy—especially if you have strong analytical and writing skills, and are comfortable developing new strategies and advocating for them.

Wave Energy Producer

What, might you ask, is a wave energy producer? This is a career path that National Geographic considers to be one of the fastest growing green jobs on the planet. In essence, a wave energy producer is someone who works on a device like the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter, which generates electricity from the perpetual motion of the waves. The first such commercial scale device was launched in 2011 and is capable of generating enough power to meet the average electrical needs of 500 homes for a year!

Sailor

There are still plenty of ways to make a career as a sea dog. Ordinary and able seamen are in demand on every boat, as are shipwrights and ship’s engineers. Ship pilot and ship captain jobs are occasionally available too, to the right individual. You could sail a private yacht or man a commercial cruise liner, whatever floats your boat.

Fisherman

It is entirely feasible to make your living by catching the fish and other critters that are the ocean’s bounty. The ocean offers a variety of different fishing opportunities, from sport fishing charters to deep sea fishing excursions. You can fish for pleasure, sport, or profit. The only requirements are the knowledge and tools of your craft and a connection to someone who wants what you're fishing for.

Ocean Sport Instructor

Making a living teaching others to do the ocean sports you love can be a wonderful career path. That said, it’s certainly not for everyone. A lot of people can surf, for example, but not everyone can teach others to do it in a way that keeps customers coming back for more. Success in this business is reliant on a combination of your personal charisma, teaching ability and skill level at your ocean sport of choice. As with anything, these are all characteristics that can be learned and developed. Have skill but no sales experience? Try starting out as an instructor for a company to learn the business side of the job.

Beach Bum

Last but not least, a list of interesting ocean careers wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the ever-present option of simply being a beach bum. Yes, you really could just choose to live on the beach. Well, at some beaches anyway. Obviously, this won’t be the most lucrative career choice, unless you are supremely enterprising, but it certainly affords a life of freedom and variety.

What’s the most interesting ocean career you can think of? Weigh in below!


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Stephan Aarstol is an American internet entrepreneur and author of the book The Five Hour Workday, which is based on Tower Paddle Boards' invention of the 5-hour workday in 2015 that would eventually spread the idea to over 10 million people worldwide. Since founding Tower in 2010, it has gone on to become one of America's fastest growing companies and Mark Cuban's best investment in the history of Shark Tank. Tower has diversified into a direct to consumer electric bike company called Tower Electric Bikes, a beachfront event venue called Tower Beach Club, and NoMiddleman.com, where consumers can shop all the world's finest direct to consumer brands from one easy place.