Meteorologist Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a meteorologist. Learn about job duties, education requirements, certification and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Meteorologist?

Meteorologists study the weather and weather patterns. They use this information to report weather conditions to the public and to government agencies, including warnings about impending severe weather. They measure things like temperature, wind speed, dewpoint, humidity and more. Meteorologists may also do research on improving weather prediction. They typically use advanced computer models to analyze data, or may create their own computer programs. Meteorologists are often involved in planning and participating in educational programs in their communities to inform the public about proper safety measures during various kinds of weather events. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Entry level - bachelor's degree; support specialist - master's degree; independent research - PhD
Education Field of Study Meteorology, atmospheric science, physics, math
Key Responsibilities Study weather patterns and current weather conditions; predict future weather; track humidity, air temperature and pressure, wind speed
Licensure Required No license required; voluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%*
Average Salary (2015) $90,210*

* U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are the Job Duties and Responsibilities of a Meteorologist?

As a meteorologist, you research and report the weather. You could work as a weather reporter on television, a support specialist for a weather service or as part of a research team. Your duties include looking at weather patterns, watching current developments and predicting future weather conditions.

You'll use various weather stations and devices to gather information. You'll monitor air pressure, humidity, wind speeds and temperatures using radars, sensors and gauges. You might use weather balloons or put together a land-based weather station to monitor happenings in a specific area or use satellites to gather information from outside the atmosphere.

Your findings are used to report to the public on weather conditions and possibly provide severe weather warnings. You could research forecasting improvements and create products that can be used to keep people safe from dangerous weather systems. If you become a consultant, you could help industries, such as heating and cooling companies, government agencies and air transportation, to make business decisions affected by the weather.

What Education is Required?

Meteorology is a science-based profession, so part of your training is focused on studying Earth science, atmospheric science and other scientific disciplines. You'll usually need a bachelor's degree in meteorology for an entry-level position. Courses in a bachelor's degree program cover topics in weather systems, atmospheric dynamics, physical meteorology, instrumentation, physics and physical science.

For advanced positions and specialty positions, such as operational meteorology, you might need additional undergraduate education or a master's degree in physics, meteorology, mathematics or a related discipline. If you are pursuing an independent research position, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in meteorology or atmospheric science is usually required.

Can I Earn Certification?

Certification is available through the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The AMS offers the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and Certified Consulting Meteorologist designations. Both credentials require a degree in meteorology, passing scores on a certification exam and a work review (www.ametsco.org). Earning a certification demonstrates your understanding of meteorology and environmental issues, as well as your communication abilities. You'll need to pay an annual membership fee and earn continuing education credits every five years to maintain your certification.

How Much Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), meteorologists and those who can interpret atmospheric data earned an average annual salary of $90,210 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also notes that the highest paying meteorological scientists worked in computer systems design and earned $111,640 per year. Broadcast meteorologists earned around $91,870 in 2015, and those who worked in television broadcasting made up about 6% of the meteorology workforce in 2014. For meteorologists in general, the BLS predicts job growth of 9% throughout the 2014-2024 decade, which is about as fast as average for all occupations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A geoscientist is a related position that requires a bachelor's degree. These scientists study the Earth's physical aspects to learn about its history. Mathematicians are also similar, but require a master's degree. These professionals use a wide variety of advanced math to analyze different kinds of data and solve real-world problems. Physicists and astronomers require a doctoral or professional degree. They study interactions between different kinds of matter and energy. Most perform experiments to study different areas of the field.

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