Ocean Career: Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Oceanographic Instrumentation Technician

Founded in 1977, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) is a partnership of the Columbia River basin’s four fishing tribes: the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservoir, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the Nez Perce Tribe.

With more than 130 employees in Oregon and Idaho, we work to put fish back in the rivers, protect treaty fishing rights, share salmon culture, and provide direct services to tribal fishers along the Columbia River.

The CRITFC Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP) program is a nationally recognized research program that includes an oceanographic observation network and numerical modeling capabilities dedicated to understanding the linkages between the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. The CMOP observation network consists of buoys and dock-based stations in the Columbia River estuary and plume that track physical and biogeochemical water properties. More information about the CMOP program at CRITFC can be found here and at cmop.critfc.org.

We seek an experienced and mechanically inclined Oceanographic Instrumentation Technician to join our growing CMOP team. This role is part instrumentation technician, part field scientist, and has a strong potential for professional advancement. The new hire will work closely with the Lead Oceanographic Technician at CRITFC’s CMOP Field Station, located at Clatsop Community College’s Marine and Environmental Research and Training Station campus in Astoria, OR.


  • Maintain buoy and dock-based ocean instrumentation to track physical (salinity, temperature, water levels, and currents) and biogeochemical (dissolved oxygen, pCO2/TCO2, chlorophyll, turbidity, nitrate, phycoerythrin, photosynthetic efficiency, and colored dissolved organic matter) conditions in the estuary and coastal ocean.
  • Maintain other sensors and stations around the estuary used for data gathering and telemetry.
  • Approximately two days per week, service dock-based instruments.
  • Travel by 50’ or 18’ boat to deploy, recover, and service buoys (approximately 20 trips per year).
  • Calibrate instruments and monitor instrument performance to ensure data quality.
  • Troubleshoot mechanical, optical, electrical, and programming issues with instruments.
  • Integrate instruments into buoys and stations.
  • Service ocean instrumentation, including wiring the instruments.
  • Devise mechanical and electrical solutions with the rest of the CMOP team to optimize instrument reliability.
  • Maintain comprehensive notes and records on observatory development, operations, and maintenance.
  • Build strong professional relationships at Clatsop Community College and within the Columbia River estuary science and marine community.
  • Perform all parts of this role with a safety mindset.
  • These duties will be performed working with the Lead Oceanographic Technician and training will be provided.


  • At least three years of experience working with ocean, estuary, or similar instrumentation.
  • Experience conducting or contributing to ocean or estuary research.
  • Experience working at sea. You already know what it’s like to work outside, often in bad weather, on the ocean.
  • Strong mechanical aptitude. You like to troubleshoot equipment because you love knowing how things work. You are the person who reads the technical manuals.
  • Strong electrical aptitude. You have experience with wiring and small electrical repairs. Experience with programmable controllers or circuit board design is a plus but not required.
  • Strong attention to detail. You have systems for ensuring the quality of your data and you are personally committed to providing high-quality data for your team.
  • Strong project management and self-management skills. You set milestones and deadlines for yourself, and you don’t need to be reminded by your manager to meet these.
  • While you are a good self-manager and troubleshooter, you are not shy about seeking technical or other assistance to solve problems.
  • You enjoy this sort of collaboration.
  • Willingness to roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done to help the CMOP team and others. You are known for being a team player.
  • A strong desire to be of service to a tribal organization or enrolled membership in a tribal organization. Knowledge of or dedication to learning tribal history and customs of CRITFC’s four member tribes.
  • Formal education in oceanography or a related STEM field. Extensive experience with ocean and estuary research and/or instrumentation can substitute for formal education in the field.

CRITFC Motor Vehicle Policy

This job occasionally requires driving a CRITFC vehicle or your own vehicle for business (mileage compensated), and therefore you must be able to meet the terms of the CRITFC Motor Vehicle policy. Per the policy, applicants are required to have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record for the past three years. This includes a three-year record clear of the following:

  • Reckless Driving
  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Suspension or revoked license
  • No more than two at-fault accidents
  • No more than one major violation or two minor violations

CRITFC offers competitive compensation and an exceptional benefits package, including medical, dental, 401(k), 12 days of vacation (to start), 13 paid holidays, and paid sick time. We provide professional development opportunities, promote from within, and have a Native hiring preference as part of our commitment to our people. As a result, you will find a work environment that supports and inspires our shared goals of protecting the natural world and the tribal cultural connection to it.

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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