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Types of careers in science


You may apply to job opportunities within Fisheries and Oceans Canada through a public service jobs account.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) offers challenging career opportunities in many science streams in our Ecosystems and Oceans Science Sector.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's qualification standards for each of the occupational groups outline the mandatory minimum requirements. This includes the education necessary to perform the work in a given occupational group or classification. For example:

Most positions in the scientific and technical groups require a university degree and/or college diploma. Certain positions may also require:

These specific requirements will be listed on job advertisements.

The occupational group structure shows how work is organized in the core public administration of the federal public service. There are various levels within an occupational group, such as:

Description of jobs in science

The following are examples of some of the jobs available in science at DFO.

Researcher or research scientist (SERES)

Researcher or research scientist (SERES)

Research scientists come from a broad range of scientific disciplines, such as: 

  • physics
  • ecology
  • geography
  • biochemistry
  • mathematics
  • marine biology
  • fisheries science
  • modelling and/or statistics
  • chemical, biological, or physical oceanography or limnology

Their dynamic and challenging work environment involves: 

  • providing expert scientific advice and recommendations
  • writing, reviewing and publishing:
    • reports
    • manuscripts
    • scientific papers
    • authoritative reviews
  • designing, planning and implementing complex scientific studies and research projects
  • producing meaningful conclusions respecting new scientific knowledge derived from participating in the:
    • statistical analysis of research data
    • interpretation of research findings
  • contributing to the collection, synthetization and interpretation of a broad range of complex univariate and/or multivariate data

A career in federal science and research might be for you if you:

  • see a future in:
    • mapping the ocean floor
    • studying ocean and freshwater species':
      • ecology
      • genetics
      • behaviour
      • physiology
    • understanding the effects of climate change
    • monitoring and forecasting the state of the ocean and freshwaters
  • believe that scientific research forms the foundation for:
    • sound decision making
    • management of our marine and freshwater ecosystems
  • want to learn more about Canada's oceans and freshwater systems

The Science Sector of DFO carries out research on Canada's:

  • oceans
  • marine resources
  • aquatic ecosystems

Our research helps us understand how these ecosystems:

  • function
  • are impacted by human activities
  • respond to disturbances like climate variability

For a research scientist position, you'll need a doctorate (PhD) in a specialized scientific discipline. For other biologist and physical science positions, you'll need a bachelor's and master's degree.

We recommended that, during your post-secondary studies, you:

  • enroll in internships
  • find summer jobs in relevant scientific fields
  • actively participate in aquatic research projects
Aquatic science biologist or advisor (BI)

Aquatic science biologist or advisor (BI)

Aquatic science biologists and advisors are from scientific disciplines, such as:

  • aquatic biology and ecology
  • physical, chemical and biological oceanography

Their dynamic and challenging work environment involves:

  • developing and negotiating:
    • partnerships
    • funding agreements
    • cooperative projects
  • consulting and communicating with:
    • academia
    • private sector
    • other scientists
    • Indigenous groups
    • program managers
    • resource managers
    • environmental groups
    • international organizations
    • other federal regulatory agencies
    • provincial and territorial agencies
  • providing authoritative scientific information and advice
  • managing and leading multidisciplinary studies, including:
    • in the field
    • at sea
    • in the laboratory
  • recommending strategies, standards and methodologies in support of:
    • healthy and productive ecosystems
    • sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
  • conducting quality assessments and statistical analysis of complex scientific data
Aquatic science chemist (CH)

Aquatic science chemist (CH)

Aquatic science chemists are from scientific disciplines, such as:

  • aquatic chemistry
  • environmental sciences
  • domains of fisheries and aquatic science

Their dynamic and challenging work environment involves:

  • developing and testing:
    • new test methods
    • equipment and instrumentation for the collection, measurement and analysis of chemistry samples and environmental phenomena
  • conducting quality assessments and statistical analysis of complex scientific data
  • writing, reviewing and publishing about aquatic science-related analytical chemistry, including:
    • reports
    • scientific papers
    • authoritative reviews
Physical scientist (PC)

Physical scientist (PC)

Physical scientists are from a broad range of scientific disciplines, such as: 

  • physical, environmental or geospatial science
  • related scientific disciplines such as:
    • geography
    • fisheries biology
    • remote sensing and meteorology
    • chemical, geological and biological oceanography

Their dynamic and challenging work environment involves:

  • promoting scientific cooperation and the development of:
    • policies
    • legislation
    • regulations
    • standards in resources
  • supporting aquatic and physical or environmental science initiatives
  • organizing, undertaking or participating in assigned at-sea, field and/or laboratory activities
  • participating in the development of scientific information and advice for clients, including the preparation of:
    • publications
    • data products
    • scientific reports
  • contributing and participating in the preparation of aquatic physical or environmental science:
    • reports
    • scientific papers
  • supporting conservation of fisheries and oceans resources by chairing and/or participating in conferences, committees and working groups that are:
    • departmental
    • interdepartmental
    • regional
    • national
    • international
Aquatic science or research technician (EG)

Aquatic science or research technician (EG)

A position as a science or research technician with DFO may be for you if you like:

  • to travel to study aquatic species
  • the idea of working in a laboratory or a field station

A science or research technician's role includes:

  • analyzing data
  • communicating information to:
    • the public
    • research team members
  • gathering laboratory and field data

Aquatic science and research technicians have backgrounds in aquatic science. They have expertise in the application and procedures respecting laboratory:

  • protocols
  • equipment
  • methodologies
  • instrumentation
  • standards and strategies

Within a field or laboratory environment they have experience with samples and/or data, including:

  • analysis
  • sampling
  • recording
  • collection
  • processing
  • preservation
  • quality control

Their dynamic and challenging work environment involves:

  • using a variety of software applications for:
    • producing summary reports
    • conducting statistical and preliminary data analyses
  • managing data and information in electronic format, including:
    • inputting
    • maintaining
    • summarizing
    • providing it to managers and researchers as required
  • preparing and conducting aquatic science field and/or laboratory:
    • studies
    • projects
    • processes
  • working with field and/or laboratory samples and data, including:
    • interpreting and providing technical advice
    • collecting, processing, validating and analyzing
    • coordinating retrieval from different projects and sources
  • handling field or laboratory equipment and instruments, including:
    • testing
    • operating
    • calibrating
    • maintaining
  • maintaining databases, validating, inputting and manipulating data
  • collecting, preserving, processing and analyzing biological, chemical or physical:
    • data
    • samples
    • information

As a data-gatherer, a technician may:

  • join an at-sea mission to:
    • tag and study marine mammal behaviours
    • assist in the collection of oceanographic data
    • gather data streaming from autonomous sensors
    • take part in fish or shellfish stock assessment work
  • work in close contact with commercial harvesters to learn things about the species that they're studying

In the field, a technician may have the opportunity to collect scientific samples by travelling on:

  • ships
  • aircraft
  • small craft

A technician may also be focused on laboratory research duties, such as:

  • assessing the chemistry of field samples
  • measuring samples collected in the field
  • examining the population genetics of species
  • measuring the behaviour and physiology of fish

As a data analyst, you may need to:

  • handle and process samples collected in the field upon return to DFO laboratories
  • provide important information that research scientists use to draw conclusions from data that is:
    • collated
    • compiled
    • analyzed
    • summarized

Technicians put the plans of the research scientists into action. They have the responsibility of collecting the data and doing the preliminary analysis that scientists rely upon. Scientists supervise technicians, but technicians frequently work during the collection and analysis of scientific data.

To become a research technician, you must obtain a Bachelor of Science degree. It's recommended to specialize in:

  • biology
  • physics
  • chemistry
  • mathematics
  • computer science related to ocean or freshwater systems

During your undergraduate degree, it's also beneficial to seek internships and to gain experience on a research project.

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