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4 Careers In Meteorology And How To Get There

As anyone on the East Coast of the US is very much aware right now after four nor’easters in three weeks, weather can be a wacky thing. The good news? Humans no longer exist at its sheer mercy thanks to meteorology. Defined by the Met Office Meteorological Glossary as "the science of the atmosphere ... embracing both weather and climate. It is concerned with the physical, dynamical and chemical state of the earth's atmosphere (and those of the planets), and with the interactions between the earth's atmosphere and the underlying surface,” meteorology gives us the capacity not only to observe and record weather conditions, but also to analyze and predict them. Thinking of a career in this red-hot (or ice-cold) field? Read on for a roundup of four possible careers, along with the training you need to achieve your goal of becoming a meteorologist.

Sep 6, 2023
  • Education
4 Careers In Meteorology And How To Get There

As anyone on the East Coast of the US is very much aware right now after four nor’easters in three weeks, weather can be a wacky thing. The good news? Humans no longer exist at its sheer mercy thanks to meteorology. Defined by the Met Office Meteorological Glossary as "the science of the atmosphere ... embracing both weather and climate. It is concerned with the physical, dynamical and chemical state of the earth's atmosphere (and those of the planets), and with the interactions between the earth's atmosphere and the underlying surface,” meteorology gives us the capacity not only to observe and record weather conditions, but also to analyze and predict them.

Thinking of a career in this hot (or cold, as the case may be) field? Read on for a roundup of four possible careers in meteorology, along with an overview of the training necessary to become a meteorologist.

Four Careers in Meteorology

1. Broadcaster

Probably the first job that comes to mind when you think of meteorology, broadcast meteorologists work for television networks and radio stations using their specialized knowledge of meteorology to create and provide forecasts to the public. In other words, just like news reporters deliver the news, broadcast meteorologists deliver the weather.

2. Researcher

Not all meteorologists are in front of the camera; many work behind the scenes. Says the National Severe Storms Laboratory, “A research meteorologist studies more specific areas of weather like severe weather or climate change. They can also develop tools like radar or weather models to help other meteorologists in their jobs.”

Echoes Houston Chronicle, “The collection of data on atmospheric conditions and weather is a coordinated worldwide effort. Meteorologists who conduct research often participate in multi-disciplinary efforts to study weather trends and their effects on plants, animals, humans and the world's oceans. Researchers also study historical atmospheric data to find clues that help the scientific community understand how weather events shape the earth's ecosystems.”

Indeed, given the challenges the planet is facing regarding climate change, global demand for climate change research and researchers is expected to skyrocket in the years ahead. If you’re looking for a job that matters, meanwhile, you’ll find it as a researcher in the field of meteorology.

3. Military and Airline Forecaster

If you’ve ever had a flight delayed or canceled due to precarious weather conditions, you may have grumbled over it -- but ultimately the decision was made with your safety in mind. Responsible for informing these kinds of calls, which are not made lightly? Meteorologists. Says Stephanie Klipfel, a meteorology supervisor at Delta, “Days one, two and three are the most important to look at. We’re interested in what’s happening at the airports. We’re looking at the hubs. Once we complete or update our tailored forecasts, we immediately get that information to the System Operations Managers and Flight Superintendents (dispatchers who monitor flights) to come up with a plan for Delta’s operation.”

Similarly, meteorologists in the military make weather observations and forecasts for flights, deployments, air strikes, space launches and other missions around the world.

4. Teaching

Knowledge about meteorology is constantly changing. How do we make sure the next generation of meteorologists are prepared to navigate future challenges? Educate them. Says Houston Chronicle, “Meteorologists with PhD degrees often teach the courses that aspiring meteorologists must complete for the initial or graduate degree. These jobs are at colleges or universities that offer degrees in meteorology or one of the sciences that is the foundation of this discipline. Meteorology professors also work for the government or the military and oversee research projects that graduate students undertake while completing their degree requirements.”

How to become a Meteorologist

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook is strong for atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists. Predicted to grow 8 percent from 2020 through 2030 -- faster than the average for all occupations -- a meteorologist salary could exceed $99,740 a year.

The work of meteorologists is important, and therefore requires a concrete set of skills. Typically, the minimal requirement necessary to become an entry-level meteorologist is a bachelor’s degree. If your goal is to go into teaching, research or consulting, continuing your education at the master’s or doctor level will be necessary. Many schools also offer Certificate programs in Meteorology aimed at delivering the targeted training necessary for meteorology jobs.

Additionally, internships and other opportunities for hands-on experience can both strengthen your resume while simultaneously giving you the opportunity to explore different disciplines within the field. For example, if you’re considering going into broadcast meteorology, an internship at a television studio can give you a better sense of what the job is like while also boosting your qualifications as a candidate.

One last thing to keep in mind? While meteorology may on the surface be about weather and climate, it's also about something else: Helping people and even saving lives. From giving early warnings and helping to get the word out quickly to identifying rising issues and creating technology designed to improve accuracy, meteorologists make the planet a safer, better place for its inhabitants. Will you take your place among them?

Joanna Hughes

Author

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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