How To Become A Meteorologist
Career Video: Meteorologist
Meteorologists and other atmospheric scientists make observations about the weather in order to track and make predictions. Meteorologists can focus on hourly, daily, and weekly changes that affect human activity and safety, or they can study the long-term effects of weather patterns and climate. Some are concerned with historical trends.
Meteorologists conduct a number of scientific steps to teach people about the weather. They measure aspects of weather, such as temperature, wind speed, humidity, dew point, and atmospheric pressure. They analyze the data using charts and specialized computer programs. They use this data to make reports about current weather and to make forecasts. Their reports are based on mathematical formulas, satellite and radar data, and computer output.
To be a meteorologist, you have to possess a certain number of skills:
- Ability to perform mathematical and statistical calculations
- Adaptive and quick-thinking
- Aptitude for physics, geography, environmental sciences, and computers
- Excellent communication skills to present data
Why Become A Meteorologist
Meteorologists are important. Without their expertise, people would be unaware of weather-related dangers. Their work helps to inform airplane pilots, boat captains, train conductors, and others whose jobs can be changed by the weather. Their information helps people seek shelter during storms or to evacuate during floods and hurricanes. They are invaluable to providing the public information about climate change. Without meteorologists, we would be at the whim of Mother Nature without a clue.
There are many types of atmospheric scientists:
- Atmospheric Chemists are concerned with the chemical components of climate, such as UV radiation, and chemical reactions and processes
- Broadcast Meteorologists are the most well-known meteorologists, as they use their skills to provide the public with forecasts via television and radio programs
- Climatologists are concerned about past trends of climate change and how they can become future weather patterns
- Forensic Meteorologists work with weather as a means to solve mysteries, such as traffic accidents, fires, and other weather-induced phenomena
- Research Meteorologists work toward improving the study of meteorology and atmospheric science through research
- Weather Forecasters provide weather predictions to the public and other clients (such as the transportation industry)
Meteorologist Work Environment
Meteorologists work for a variety of employers, which include the federal government, colleges and universities, and television broadcasting companies. The majority of meteorologists work as technical, scientific, and professional consultants. Meteorologists can find employment at weather stations throughout the U.S. The National Weather Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hires thousands of individuals to provide services.
Most meteorologists and atmospheric scientists work in offices. They can work in television studios, research labs, or in other various locations where they can observe weather. Some will work in the field. They may chase storms, fly in aircrafts, or travel the world to learn about weather. Broadcast meteorologists can produce a show outdoors as well.
Atmospheric scientists typically work full time. Their work schedules can vary, especially if their job is to monitor weather. Some meteorologists work in shifts, rotating days, nights, and weekends. Severe weather can create a lengthier work day. Even broadcast meteorologists are subject to changing work schedules due to the weather.
The median annual salary for all atmospheric scientists, which includes meteorologists, is $92,460. The pay range for this profession varies from $51,480 to $140,830. Those making the least may be newer to the profession, working in entry-level jobs. The more experience an individual has, the more compensation they will receive.
Meteorologists who work for the federal government will typically earn the most. Jobs at NASA and NOAA are the most common. Those working as professional and technical consultants will average $89,020. Television broadcasters will average $87,990. Researchers who work in colleges and universities can earn, on average, $82,910.
Meteorologist Career Outlook
The job outlook for meteorologists is good. This profession is expected to grow 9 percent in the next decade. The reason for this growth is because of advancements in technology. The computer software available to atmospheric scientists will allow them to do more. This field will also need people to improve this technology. Wind, solar, and the use of other power sources will increase the demand for tracking the weather.
One of the greatest needs for meteorologists will be in predicting weather for transportation purposes. Many companies rely on planes, trucks, and ships to transport their goods. Meteorologists can help them to predict weather so they can plan their shipments.
The job outlook for individuals with a graduate degree will be better than for those with a bachelor’s degree. The more specified you become in the field, the better your chances at employment. Certifications can also lead to more opportunities.
Meteorologists need at least a bachelor’s degree in an atmospheric science. Advanced degrees and certifications are required for research positions and advancements in the field.
Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree. A degree in atmospheric science is the best choice. Mathematics, physics, geology, and chemistry are also good choices, especially if you choose to specialize later on. Many physics and geologic programs offer specific atmospheric science courses. Make sure to take a course in meteorology, communications, research methods, computer science, and broadcast. It is important to keep your eyes open for opportunities to learn about remote sensing, satellite imaging, and radar analysis.
Note: Take advantage of internship opportunities. Research labs, broadcast studios, and the government all offer chances for students to learn from these hands-on experiences.
Step 2: Earn a graduate degree. If you’re interested in a research position, it is necessary that you earn a graduate degree. Although a master’s degree is acceptable in most situations, many laboratories will require a Ph.D. In graduate programs, people can specialize and work toward a specific goal. Graduate programs do not require an undergraduate program in atmospheric science, but a background in math, physics, geology, or chemistry will be most helpful. Oceanography, geophysics, and other advanced programs in meteorology will lead to gainful employment.