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What is a Meteorologist?

https://www.environmentalscience.org/career/meteorologist

Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere. Meteorologists use science and math to understand and
predict weather and climate. They also study how the atmospheric and weather conditions affect the
earth and its human inhabitants.

What Does a Meteorologist Do?


Meteorologists may work on daily weather forecasting, conduct atmospheric research, teach,
broadcast the weather, or advise clients for private meteorological companies.

Weather Forecasters
Using sophisticated computer models and data collected from around the world they tailor
forecasts to their own local areas. While we often think of broadcasters, there are many more
meteorologists who work behind the scenes, often for government agencies.

There's also a growing number of private sector meteorologists working for companies that
specialize in providing highly specific information on challenging weather events. Clients
may include power providers concerned about demand during a heat spell, importers of
agricultural products, and sporting associations concerned about weather during the big
game. Some airlines even have their own meteorology departments. They may also advise
companies and governments on the best locations for wind farms.

Atmospheric Researchers
Atmospheric researchers study the workings of the atmosphere to better understand how it
works, and how it's interconnected with our planet's waters. This connection often leads
atmospheric researchers to work in tandem with oceanographers, hydrologists, environmental
scientists, physicists, and mathematicians to collect and interpret data and study atmospheric
phenomena. For example, different types of scientists work together to study globally-
connected, complex issues like climate change, and to predict its effects on human beings and
other species.
Climatologists
Climatologists study historical climate patterns to understand long-term weather patterns and
predict future climatic shifts. Most climatologists study global warming. They may use
historical records in the form of written accounts, or shifts “recorded” in ancient ice or
sediments. Paleoclimatologists who study prehistoric climate conditions often do fieldwork to
retrieve such physical evidence.

Meteorologists may become faculty and teach at colleges or universities. They may work for
in-depth undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. programs, perform research, and direct the
research of graduate students, or they may teach atmospheric science classes that supplement
the offerings of related science programs. Studying meteorology is also good training for
becoming a general science teacher at the high school level.

Learn more about climatology.

Forensic Meteorologists
Forensic Meteorologists investigate and provide information on weather conditions at
specific moments in the recent past. Their work provides insight into how weather may have
played a role in a traffic accident, fire, or other event having monetary or legal ramifications.
Forensic meteorologists may testify in court.

Meteorologists may also work on improving weather-related technology, such as data


collection instruments and computer models. They may also work design informative digital
weather displays.

Where Does a Meteorologist Work?


The U.S. government is the largest employer of meteorologists and atmospheric scientists,
many of whom work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),
which also oversees the National Weather Service. NOAA has large research labs in Miami,
Florida, Boulder, Colorado, and Norman, Oklahoma. However, many NOAA meteorologists
work at weather stations dispersed across the country. Their size varies; some weather
stations employ only a single meteorologist.

Meteorologists also work within the armed forces, and for the Department of Defense as
civilian contractors. NASA also conducts atmospheric research at labs in Washington, D.C.,
Northern Virginia and Maryland. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in
Boulder, Colorado, is another obvious employer. While the Center conducts various kinds of
research, it's also deeply involved in studying climate change. Private companies are a fast-
growing source of employment for meteorologists. Consulting firms, airlines, and television
stations are a few examples of private employers.

The majority of meteorologists work indoors in weather stations, office environments, or


laboratories. However, some jobs may involve occasional outdoor work. University and
government researchers may do field work to collect data or observe weather events, and
broadcast meteorologists may report on weather events from the field.

Schedules
While most meteorologists work full time, they often don't keep the usual 9-to-5 work day.
Many entry-level and other field station weather forecasters work rotating shifts to cover the
weather continuously, including nights, weekends, and holidays. They may also work
extended hours during short-term, severe weather events. Other atmospheric scientists keep a
typical schedule, though researchers may work extended hours on particular projects.

What is the average Meteorologist


salary?
The median salary for meteorologists was $89,260 in 2012, or $42.91 per hour. Federal
government workers earned the most ($97,710), followed by faculty and researchers at
colleges and universities ($86,090). Meteorologists in radio and television broadcasting made
$82,360, and those in professional, scientific, and technical services made $82,310.

State Total Employment Bottom 25% Median Salary

Alabama 100 $66,240 $84,860

Alaska 110 $72,240 $85,180

Arizona 70 $71,110 $84,860

Arkansas 40 $61,220 $79,220

California 1,290 $62,760 $92,740

Colorado 1,800 $73,130 $92,480

Connecticut 50 $69,430 $82,730

Florida 400 $55,620 $90,010


State Total Employment Bottom 25% Median Salary

Georgia - $76,240 $89,390

Hawaii 60 $84,270 $100,200

Idaho - $81,390 $93,520

Illinois 350 $53,540 $71,040

Indiana 100 $57,270 $77,100

Iowa 100 $58,020 $78,550

Kansas 100 $57,420 $82,570

Kentucky 40 $82,560 $90,010

Louisiana 50 $75,680 $90,010

Maine 40 $65,060 $84,860

Maryland 860 $62,890 $89,840

Massachusetts 550 $64,580 $84,930

Michigan 300 $51,640 $67,060

Minnesota 40 $77,770 $94,770

Mississippi 100 $56,820 $70,800

Missouri 130 $82,570 $98,190

Montana 90 $56,780 $81,810

Nebraska 120 $73,400 $87,140

Nevada 160 $57,430 $86,960

New Hampshire 50 $45,550 $51,800


State Total Employment Bottom 25% Median Salary

New Jersey 80 $80,250 $104,690

New Mexico 100 $76,840 $90,020

New York 320 $59,320 $85,360

North Carolina 160 $71,100 $89,450

North Dakota 40 $64,750 $84,850

Ohio 60 $80,930 $92,920

Oklahoma 260 $54,450 $89,450

Oregon 100 $77,980 $94,290

Pennsylvania 110 $69,140 $89,360

South Carolina 90 $46,550 $82,560

South Dakota 80 $68,820 $80,270

Tennessee 100 $57,410 $84,840

Texas 730 $46,390 $58,490

Utah 120 $68,950 $84,540

Virginia 240 $84,200 $106,010

Washington 220 $66,360 $87,310

Wisconsin 190 $53,050 $71,660

Table data taken from BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes192021.htm)


Meteorology Jobs
Recent Meteorology Job Listings
Meteorologist jobs are mostly concentrated on determining atmospheric process and phenomena in
order to accurately forecast the weather. Most jobs are client facing, however, there are research-
driven meteorology positions available. While job duties do vary between positions, most
meteorologists should be able to perform the following tasks as part of their job:

 Deliver televised or streaming forecasts for newscasts


 Prepare and produce clear weather graphics to convey information to internal and external
stakeholders
 Provide engaging content to digital media channels
 Demonstrate an understanding of social media and communicate effectively with digital
stakeholders
 Communicate with local stakeholders, consumers, and students to communicate about weather
science
 Represent business organization at community and industry events
 Review current literature to stay abreast of industry and scientific advancements
 Ensure that communications are clear, engaging, and meaningful to stakeholders
 Analyze weather and provide accurate forecasts
 Ensure that weather content meets standards for journalistic integrity
 Coordinate weather communications across multiple platforms
 Have a deep knowledge or ‘intuition' regarding the weather conditions in pertinent regions
 Respond to emerging weather news
 Be prepared to travel temporarily on very short notice
 Provide information about weather, UV levels, and air quality issues like allergens and pollution
 Conduct meteorological research
 Use computer modelling to construct accurate predictions
 Analyze atmospheric data for trends and correlative relationships
 Communicate scientific presentations and reports for management, special interest stakeholders,
and the public

There are generally no roles for senior meteorologists outside of the lab environment.
However, these people often have broader responsibilities that include management of a lab
or field team. Such responsibilities often include:

 Engage in maintaining instruments in a regulated state by performing system checks and


maintenance procedures
 Make specialized forecasts for marine, aviation and transport purposes
 Consult with policy and stakeholders about meteorological issues pertaining to agriculture,
forestry, transportation, and environmental management
 Issue weather advisories and warnings regarding dangerous weather, UV levels, or air quality
conditions
 Answer media inquiries during special weather events and provide information to the public
 Fostering a positive work environment
 Drafting and managing scheduling and budgetary timelines
 Testing and calibrating equipment and instruments
 Taking measurements and recording data

What Is the Job Demand for


Meteorologists?
The job market in this industry is projected to grow 10% by 2022, for an addition of 1,100
positions. This projection keeps pace with average job growth. Much of the growth will occur
in the private sector.

What do Meteorologists study?


Meteorologists usually need a bachelor's degree in atmospheric science or a closely related
field that's specific to atmospheric phenomena. Degrees in physics, chemistry, or geoscience
may be adequate for certain positions. Aspiring meteorologists may also study:

 Physics
 Chemistry
 Math
 Computer Programming

Since most graduate programs don't require a bachelor's degree in atmospheric science for
admission, degrees in math, physics, and engineering are good preparations for graduate
study. Research positions usually require at least a master's degree, though they will often
require a doctorate.

Other Degrees Related to Meteorology


 Meteorology Online Degree and Certificate
 Earth Science Master’s and Graduate Certificates Online
 Environmental Psychology Degree
 Environmental Biology Degree
 Geodesign Online Degree Info

What Kind of Societies and


Professional Organizations Do
Meteorologists Have?
 The American Meteorological Society (AMS) is the foremost professional association for
meteorologists. The Society publishes journals, holds annual conferences, trains teachers, and
offers certifications for broadcast and consulting meteorologists.

 The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is a federation of professional organizations falling


within the geosciences. Atmospheric scientists may be interested in exploring their research areas
from an integrated perspective through this forum. AGI allows meteorologists to network not
only with others in the field, but also with earth scientists from related disciplines studying
associated topics, such as oceanographers and hydrologists. AGI also provides information on
career trends, news, and publications.

Recommend Resources

 American Meteorological Society


 World Meteorological Organization
 National Weather Association