How Can I Become a Meteorologist?

Meteorologists study the atmosphere. There are different classifications of meteorologists. Learn more about job duties, potential work environments and educational requirements. Schools offering Teaching - Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Get Your Degree

If you decide to become a meteorologist, you'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Your major may be in meteorology, atmospheric science or in a related science area with plenty of courses in meteorology. Some meteorologists obtain a second baccalaureate degree in a technical field, or pursue a master's degree. Research positions generally call for a doctoral degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those with master's degrees may have better job prospects than those with a bachelor's degree (www.bls.gov).

Approximately 30 educational institutions degree programs structured for atmospheric and related sciences in the United States, according to information reported by the American Meteorological Study (www.ametsoc.org).

What Will I Study If I Pursue this Degree?

Specific coursework and areas of study depend upon your career goals. For example, if you are interested in broadcast meteorology, you may take classes in speech and journalism in order to develop excellent communications skills. In general, meteorology and atmospheric coursework incorporates atmospheric dynamics with thermodynamics, physical meteorology, the analysis and prediction of weather systems and instrumentation. Many programs of study combine atmospheric science studies with a different area, such as oceanography, physics, engineering, agriculture or hydrology.

Where Can I Use My Meteorological Skills?

Approximately one-third of meteorologists work for the federal government in National Weather Service stations sprinkled across the U.S., according to the BLS. Some are also employed in research positions. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense uses a large number of meteorologists. Other jobs are found in private firms and in broadcasting services.

What Job Duties Might I Expect?

Common tasks for entry-level meteorologists include data collection, basic forecasting, computation and analysis. National Weather Service meteorologists have a training program introducing them to the organization's processes and procedures.

There are several different classifications of meteorologists. Operational meteorologists study temperature, humidity and wind velocity and use the data to provide weather forecasts. They use computer models and data from satellites, radars, and other equipment to make their predictions. Sophisticated technologies such as Doppler radar allow meteorologists to better predict hazardous weather by detecting airflow patterns. Physical meteorologists study light and sound waves, energy transfer and chemical properties in the atmosphere. Environmental meteorologists study air pollutants and water quality issues.

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