Is becoming an atmospheric scientist right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do atmospheric scientists do?
Career Satisfaction
Are atmospheric scientists happy with their careers?
What are atmospheric scientists like?

Still unsure if becoming an atmospheric scientist is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an atmospheric scientist or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

How to become an Atmospheric Scientist

Becoming an atmospheric scientist requires a strong educational background and a combination of academic training and practical experience. Here is an overview of the steps involved in pursuing a career as an atmospheric scientist:

  • Obtain a Bachelor's Degree: Start by earning a Bachelor's Degree in Atmospheric Sciences, Meteorology, or a related field such as physics, chemistry, or environmental science. Look for accredited programs that offer coursework in atmospheric dynamics, climate science, remote sensing, and data analysis. During your undergraduate studies, take advantage of opportunities for research, internships, and participation in meteorological or atmospheric science organizations.
  • Pursue a Master's Degree (Optional): While a bachelor's degree is sufficient for some entry-level positions, a master's degree can enhance your knowledge and job prospects in atmospheric science. Consider pursuing a Master of Science (M.Sc.) Degree in Atmospheric Sciences or a related field. This advanced degree can provide specialized training and research opportunities in areas such as climate modeling, air quality, or severe weather forecasting.
  • Gain Research Experience: Engage in research projects during your undergraduate or graduate studies. Seek opportunities to work with faculty members, research centers, or government agencies conducting atmospheric science research. This hands-on experience will deepen your understanding of research methodologies, data analysis techniques, and the scientific process. It will also enhance your problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which are vital for a career in atmospheric science.
  • Develop Strong Quantitative and Computer Skills: Atmospheric science involves analyzing large datasets, using mathematical models, and applying computer programming to process and interpret atmospheric data. Take courses that build your skills in mathematics, statistics, computer programming (e.g., Python, MATLAB), and data analysis. Familiarity with software tools commonly used in atmospheric science, such as climate models or GIS (Geographic Information System), is also valuable.
  • Consider a Ph.D. (Optional): If you aspire to pursue advanced research or academic positions, you may consider obtaining a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences or a closely related field. A doctoral degree allows you to specialize further and conduct independent research, contributing to the scientific understanding of atmospheric processes. Ph.D. programs typically involve coursework, comprehensive exams, original research, and the completion of a doctoral dissertation.
  • Engage in Professional Networks and Organizations: Join professional organizations in atmospheric science, such as the American Meteorological Society (AMS) or the National Weather Association (NWA). Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to stay updated on the latest research and developments in the field. Participate in networking events and engage with professionals and researchers in the atmospheric science community.
  • Gain Practical Experience: Seek internships, cooperative education programs, or entry-level positions in weather forecasting agencies, research institutions, government agencies, or private sector companies. Practical experience allows you to apply your knowledge in real-world settings, develop essential skills, and build professional connections within the atmospheric science community.
  • Consider Certification and Licensure: While not mandatory, obtaining certifications can demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the field. The AMS offers several certifications, such as the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM) or the Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM) designation, which can enhance your credibility and job prospects.
  • Continuous Learning and Professional Development: Keep abreast of advancements in atmospheric science by engaging in lifelong learning. Attend workshops, webinars, and seminars to stay updated on emerging technologies, research findings, and new methodologies. Pursue continuing education courses or professional development opportunities to enhance your skills and knowledge in specific areas of interest.
  • Seek Employment Opportunities: Once you have completed your education and gained relevant experience, start exploring job opportunities in various sectors, including weather forecasting agencies, research institutions, government agencies, private companies, consulting firms, or academia. Utilize online job boards, professional networks, and connections you have made to find job openings in the field. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills, experience, and academic achievements in atmospheric science. Prepare for interviews by familiarizing yourself with the organization's work and demonstrating your passion for atmospheric science.
  • Continue Professional Growth: After securing a position as an atmospheric scientist, embrace opportunities for professional growth and advancement. Stay updated with the latest research and advancements in the field, attend conferences, publish papers, and engage in collaborative projects. Seek mentorship from experienced professionals to further develop your skills and expertise.

Helpful Resources
By leveraging the following resources, atmospheric scientists can access valuable data, research findings, networking opportunities, and professional development resources.

  • American Meteorological Society (AMS): The AMS is a prominent professional organization for atmospheric scientists. They offer access to research journals, conferences, workshops, webinars, and networking opportunities. The AMS website provides valuable resources, including publications, career resources, educational programs, and information on certifications and professional development.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): NOAA is a federal agency that focuses on weather, climate, and oceanic research. Their website provides access to a wealth of atmospheric and climate data, reports, publications, and research findings. NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) offers a comprehensive collection of atmospheric and climate data archives.
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR): NCAR is a leading research institution dedicated to atmospheric and Earth system science. They provide access to cutting-edge research facilities, data sets, models, and computational resources. NCAR's website offers resources for atmospheric scientists, including publications, research tools, and educational materials.
  • NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS): NASA's EOSDIS provides access to a vast array of satellite-based observations and data products related to the Earth's atmosphere, climate, and weather patterns. Their website offers access to data, visualization tools, and resources for atmospheric scientists interested in satellite remote sensing.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The EPA focuses on environmental protection and regulation, including air quality and climate-related issues. Their website provides resources on air pollution, atmospheric research, regulations, and environmental data. EPA's AirData website offers access to air quality data and mapping tools.
  • Professional Conferences and Workshops: Attending conferences and workshops is an excellent way to stay updated on the latest research, network with fellow atmospheric scientists, and present your own work. Major conferences in the field include the AMS Annual Meeting, AGU Fall Meeting, and the International Conference on Climate Change.
  • Academic Institutions and Research Centers: Stay connected with academic institutions and research centers that specialize in atmospheric science. Many institutions offer seminars, lectures, and research collaborations that allow you to engage with experts in the field and explore potential collaborations.
  • Online Data Repositories and Tools: Various online platforms provide access to atmospheric and climate data, analysis tools, and modeling resources. Examples include the National Center for Atmospheric Research's Earth System Grid Federation (ESGF), the NASA Earthdata Search platform, and the World Data Center for Meteorology.
  • Online Forums and Discussion Groups: Participating in online forums and discussion groups can be beneficial for sharing ideas, seeking advice, and engaging with the atmospheric science community. Platforms such as Reddit's r/atmospheric_science and LinkedIn groups focused on atmospheric science can provide opportunities for networking and knowledge exchange.