CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a meteorologist.
Is becoming a meteorologist 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:
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Take the Right Classes in High School
Take as many science and math courses as you can while in high school. English and computer science courses will be useful as well.
Get a Bachelor's Degree
Most meteorologists have a degree in meteorology (unsurprisingly) or atmospheric science. It is possible to major in something relevant like math or another science if you plan on getting a graduate degree in meteorology later. Depending on what you plan on specializing in, you should take some classes that are geared towards the area you want to work in. This might mean things like journalism, chemistry or computer science.
If you already know where you'd like to work at this point, do some research on the requirements of that place. The government, for example, has strict requirements when it comes to which courses you should take.
Decide if You Need a Graduate Degree
While there are meteorologist positions available for those with only a bachelor's degree, most high level positions will require at least a master's degree. You will need a PhD if you want to do research.
Get an Internship
No matter which stage of school you are at, getting an internship will be helpful for finding a job later on. It will give you valuable work experience and give you a chance to make connections that could lead to a job in the future. It will also let you see what the day to day life of a meteorologist is like and give you a good idea of which area of meteorology you might want to specialize in.
Decide on a Specialization/Workplace
It is probably wise to put some thought into what specialization you'd like to pursue as well as where you'd like to work, as both of these decisions will affect which classes you take in school. Take a look at the different specializations here.
Meteorologists are able to work in a variety of places. The largest employer for meteorologists is the government. You can also work in other places such as TV stations, private companies or even working with the legal system as a forensic meteorologist.
Be Prepared to get Additional Training
Some employers, like the National Weather Service, will require you to go through some additional training when they hire you. Entry level government positions usually place you in various intern positions so you can train in different areas before you're assigned to a specific duty.
How to become a Meteorologist
Anyone who plans a career in meteorology should take as many math and computer courses as possible in high school.
Meteorologists need to hold at least a bachelor's degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, which includes courses in biology, calculus, chemistry, physics, and computer science. A degree in physics, chemistry, or geoscience may be adequate for certain positions. However, math and science are just one part of the story. Communication and writing composition skills are equally important in some meteorologist/atmospheric scientist roles.
Once students select an undergraduate program that meets the federal guidelines established by the American Meteorological Society, they should consult a meteorology department adviser and create a plan that will direct and keep them on course for the next four years. The adviser can help with selection of courses and provide information regarding possible internship opportunities with television and radio stations, energy firms, consulting businesses, and government agencies. The National Weather Service is another valuable resource for aspiring meteorologists.
If research and teaching is pursued, then going beyond a four-year bachelor's degree and getting a master's or doctorate will be necessary. For individuals interested strictly in research, a bachelor's degree in either physics, math, or chemistry, followed by a master's or doctorate degree in meteorology, might be the best track to take.