Average Salary: $108,420
Expected Lifetime Earnings: $4,526,318
Oceanographers' salaries will vary as widely as the responsibilities, education, and specialties they have. Oceanographers with a bachelor's degree will average around $100,000—not a bad take for studying glorified saltwater receptacles (source).
Oceanographers who work with nonprofit organizations can generally expect to make less than those who work for private corporations, especially if that corporation employs them for deep sea drilling operations (source).
Keep moving up in the education and experience categories, and an oceanographer's salary will follow. Those scientists who have earned a PhD, are involved in high-level research at government agencies, or teach budding oceanographers at the university level can expect to earn closer to $150,000 or more (source).
But what about pirate treasure, you ask. Always with the pirates. Normally we'd laugh at you and then send you to counseling, but this time you may actually be on to something. With countless shipwrecks lost to history still to be discovered out there in the great blue sea, there is the remote possibility that your pirate dreams will come true. Some of those shipwrecks may even still hold that booty we were discussing earlier.
Who knows? One day you may accidentally come across a Spanish galleon holding a fortune in gold. We wouldn't necessarily recommend spending your life (and resources) searching for lost treasure, but we can't tell you how to live your life. If you think treasure hunting is the best use of your oceanographic prowess, we say go for it.