Career Attributes

  • $44,152
  • 3.4
  • Meteorology
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Overview

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.

How long does it take to become a Meteorologist?

How long it takes to become a meteorologist depends on what kind of job you want. There are jobs available for those with only a bachelor's degree (four years), but most high level positions require at least a master's and research positions will require a PhD (another two to four years).

Steps to becoming a Meteorologist

The path to becoming a meteorologist starts with an interest in science; climate and weather; and the atmosphere. It continues with choosing high school courses that support this interest. And it culminates with university education that opens the door to career options.

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

Should I become a Meteorologist?

Meteorologists need a very deep knowledge base on the workings of the physical world, so an innate curiosity and desire to learn is a must. Depending on their specialty, meteorologists may have to work nights and weekends and have strict deadlines to meet. Strong verbal and written communication skills are essential, as meteorologists often have to communicate complicated information in simple ways to non-meteorologists.

Different specializations require different skills and training. A TV weatherperson, for example, would need journalism or media education, while this would be unnecessary for someone in a research position. There are many different meteorology specializations, so if you enjoy the nature of the work it is likely that there is a specialization that works well with your personality.

All meteorologists use sophisticated technology on a daily basis. Depending on your specialization, this might mean launching weather balloons, modeling weather on a computer, or even developing new software. In any case, you should be confident and ideally enjoy working on a computer if you intend to be a meteorologist.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself if you are considering a career in meteorology:

 Am I curious about the world around me and why it is the way it is?
 Would I like to work in a field of science that has many important applications in human affairs, such as warning others of hazardous weather or investigating the atmospheric forces that shape our weather and climate?
 Am I challenged by the idea of applying basic scientific principles to understand the behavior of the atmosphere?
 Am I intrigued by the concept of using mathematics as a language to describe things that happen in the world around me?
 Do I enjoy science and math courses?
 Would I like to work with supercomputers, satellites, and other sophisticated research tools?

What are Meteorologists like?

Investigative

Based on our pool of users, meteorologists tend to be predominately investigative people. This finding is not unexpected. These professionals are frequently, if not always, in investigative mode, as they predict weather, scrutinize climate trends, study the atmosphere, and examine its effects on the environment.

Meteorologists work with a two-stage investigative model. First, they identify the initial state of the atmosphere, that is, the temperature, pressure, wind strength and direction, and humidity concentration over a specific area. They continuously make observations using ground-level sensors, satellites, radar, aircraft, and balloons.

Once they know the initial state at every altitude, they make calculations using physics equations relating to friction, atmospheric forces, thermodynamics, radiation, and the force of the Earth’s rotation.

Meteorologists by Strongest Interest Archetype

Based on sample of 124 CareerExplorer users

Are Meteorologists happy?

50thpercentile

Meteorologists rank as moderately happy among careers. Overall they rank in the 50th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.

Meteorologist Career Satisfaction by Dimension

Percentile among all careers

Education History of Meteorologists

The most common degree held by Meteorologists is Meteorology. 62% of Meteorologists had a degree in Meteorology before becoming Meteorologists. That is over 953 times the average across all careers. Environmental Science graduates are the second most common among Meteorologists, representing 8% of Meteorologists in the CareerExplorer user base, which is 7.1 times the average.

Meteorologist Education History

This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Meteorologist, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.

Degree % of Meteorologists % of population Multiple
Meteorology 61.5% 0.1% 953.3×
Environmental Science 7.7% 1.1% 7.1×

Meteorologist Education Levels

43% of Meteorologists have a bachelor's degree. 33% of Meteorologists have an associate's degree.

No education 2%
High school diploma 21%
Associate's degree 33%
Bachelor's degree 43%
Master's degree 1%
Doctorate degree 0%

How to Become a Meteorologist

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Career Attributes

  • $44,152
  • 3.4
  • Meteorology
More Attributes