Table of Contents
What is a meteorology degree?
Meteorology degree programs teach students how to predict weather conditions. The typical curriculum examines atmospheric movement, climate trends, and ozone levels. With an understanding of these concepts, students learn about various meteorological phenomena. They learn how to use statistical analysis to forecast weather events from sun, clouds, and rain to heat waves, droughts, thunderstorms, tropical storms, tornados, and hurricanes.
These are some of the classes that make up a meteorology degree program:
- Synoptic Meteorology
- Numerical Weather Prediction / Differential Equations
- Analysis of Weather Charts
- The Instruments of Meteorology
Note: Many meteorology degree programs are designed to train students in specific kinds of meteorology work. For example, some schools may offer a specialized meteorology track for individuals interested in working with the military, private weather forecasting services, or the National Weather Service or other government agencies. This track is sometimes referred to as the professional track. It is also common to find broadcast meteorology programs, which are focused on preparing students for careers in television and radio. Many schools also have a particular curriculum for individuals planning to continue their studies beyond the undergraduate level.
Bachelor’s Degree in Meteorology – Four Year Duration
Most jobs in meteorology require at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. The Meteorology Bachelor’s Degree program is made up of lectures, labs, and hands-on experience. Students are typically required to complete a research project that involves using weather models, analyzing data, and conducting field work.
The curriculum at this level includes courses like these:
- Introduction to Meteorology
- Dynamic Meteorology – the study of the motions of the atmosphere based on the Earth’s rapid rotation
- Physical Meteorology – the study of the optical, electrical, acoustical, and thermodynamic phenomena in the atmosphere; the physics of clouds and precipitation
- Synoptic Meteorology
- Calculus-based Physics
- Applied Differential Equations
- Applied Probability and Statistics
- Tropical Meteorology
Here are some examples of courses specific to the different meteorology education tracks:
- Radar Meteorology - Satellite Meteorology - Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - Computer Applications in Meteorology
- Severe Weather - Radar Meteorology - TV Weather - Public Speaking - Mass Communications - Internship - Practicum
Graduate School Track
- Satellite Meteorology - Earth Sciences / Computer Applications - Hydrology – the study of the earth’s water and its movement in relation to land - Mesoscale Meteorology
Master’s Degree in Meteorology – Two to Four Year Duration
Graduates with a Master’s Meteorology Degree often work in research and/or academic roles. In a master’s program students focus on research in an area of specialization that they choose. Some possibilities are:
- Air Pollution Meteorology
- Agrometeorology – the investigation of meteorological conditions that affect agricultural production
- Aviation Meteorology – the investigation of meteorological conditions that affect air traffic management
- Climate Change
Classes may include in-depth study of geophysical fluid dynamics, air quality forecasting, and map and data analysis.
Doctoral Degree in Meteorology – Five to Six Year Duration
The goal of most students who earn a Doctorate in Meteorology is to conduct ongoing independent, original meteorological research. Doctoral students must complete and defend a dissertation. Here are some sample areas from which they may choose a topic:
- Weather Systems and Forecasting
- Fire Weather and Wildfire Dynamics
- Wind Energy
- Mountain Meteorology
- Climate Change
- Mars Weather
Degrees similar to meteorology
Meteorology is the study of weather, especially weather forecasting. Atmospheric science is the wider, all-encompassing study of the atmosphere, including climatology, air quality, and meteorology.
Physics is a field that keeps changing as discoveries are made. This means that the field asks at least as many questions as it answers. Students of physics degree programs study matter and energy. They learn about the relationships between the measurable quantities in the universe, which include velocity, electric field, and kinetic energy. In simple terms, the study of physics is an attempt to figure out why objects move in the way that they do.
Students of applied physics focus on learning how to use physics to solve practical problems. They learn about computational physics, materials science, thermodynamics, and nanotechnology.
Astronomy students use math, physics, and chemistry to study celestial objects like planets, stars, comets, meteors, and galaxies.
The basis of this discipline is that all natural things interact. Individuals who earn a degree in environmental science develop plans to prevent, control, or find solutions to environmental issues, such as pollution.
Archaeology degree programs are concerned with the study of past human societies through analysis of what they left behind. Geology is about the history of the Earth and the forces that act upon it. Geology coursework covers subjects like geochemistry, geophysics, and mineralogy.
Students of broadcast journalism learn how to report, produce, and deliver the news for television, radio, and other broadcast media. Their studies typically include communication theory, electronic media production, mass communications law, and media and society.
Skills you'll learn
As students of meteorology learn how to analyze and interpret data and radar imagery, they also develop skills that at are transferable to work in any occupational category:
- Attention to detail
- Scientific writing
What can you do with a meteorology degree?
Government / Research
In the U.S., most meteorology degree jobs are with government departments and agencies:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory / Hurricane Research Division / Climate Diagnostics Center / National Severe Storms Laboratory / NOAA Postdoctoral Program in Climate and Global Change
- National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
- National Weather Service
- Air Force
- Department of Defense
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): Goddard Space Flight Center / Langley Research Center / Marshall Space Flight Center / Goddard Institute for Space Studies /
- Department of Energy
- Department of Agriculture
The private sector hires meteorologists in several businesses that are either dependent on or can be affected by weather:
- Cruise lines
- Shipping companies
Education / Research
Meteorologists employed by universities teach meteorology and conduct research in the field. Some may work for private research firms. In these roles, meteorologists study historical atmospheric data to better understand the effects of weather on ecosystems.
As noted above in the Program Options section, the media sector – specifically, radio and television – hires meteorologists to analyze, interpret, and present weather forecasts to listening and viewing audiences.
The career trajectory of people with a Meteorology degree appears to be focused around a few careers. The most common career that users with Meteorology degrees have experience in is Meteorologist, followed by Atmospheric Scientist, Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician, Pilot, Political Scientist, High School Teacher, Computer Programmer, Data Scientist, Professor, and Technical Writer.
|Career||% of graduates||% of population||Multiple|
|Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technician||0.8%||0.0%||25.4×|
|High School Teacher||1.4%||0.2%||8.5×|
Meteorology graduates earn on average $k, putting them in the bottom percentile of earners with a degree.
|Percentile||Earnings after graduation ($1000s USD)|
|25th (bottom earners)||-|
|Median (average earners)||-|
|75th (top earners)||-|
Meteorology graduates are highly employed compared to other graduates. We have collected data on three types of underemployment. Part-time refers to work that is less than 30 hours per week. Non-college refers to work that does not require a college degree. Low-paying includes a list of low-wage service jobs such as janitorial work, serving, or dishwashing.
|Employment Type||Proportion of graduates|
|We are still collecting information for this degree|