Career Choice: Meteorologist

Career Choice: Meteorologist
  • Type: Career Type
  • Opening Intro -

    The term “weatherman” is no longer used, replaced by the more modern meteorologist moniker.

    Meteorologists are atmospheric scientists, professionals who investigate and interpret atmospheric phenomena, including past, current and future weather conditions.


Most meteorologists work for the federal government, but citizens are likely to encounter these professionals when watching television news stations. Every meteorologist has at least a bachelor’s degree, with some having obtained a master’s degree or completed a Ph.D.


Offering weather forecasts is a significant duty for meteorologists. Such forecasts can have a profound impact in helping citizens avoid injury, death and loss of property when these forecasts are accurately given and heeded. Making a forecast means collecting and interpreting data from a number of sources including satellite imagery, computer models, weather balloons, by reviewing government data, and consulting with colleagues.


A bachelor’s degree in meteorology or a closely related field is required of all atmospheric scientists. Students will take courses in meteorology, physics, earth science, mathematics, and geography, and other courses as outlined by the few schools offering such degrees. Those desiring to work for the federal government should follow current course requirements as outlined by the National Weather Service.

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The mean annual wage for atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists, was $88,010 as of May 2010 reports the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries ranged from $45,050 to $132,130. The middle 50 percent earned from $64,200 to $107,000. The median income for these professionals was $87,780.


As of 2010, the BLS reported 8,640 people were employed as atmospheric scientists. Of this number, the federal government employed 3,010, many of whom worked for the National Weather Service. Annual pay for federal meteorologists averaged $95,760, more than $7,500 above the national average. Scientific and technical services employers paid an average of $66,810 per year; colleges, universities and professionals schools offered average wages close to the national mean, paying $87,450 per year. Meteorologists working for scientific and research firms averaged $90,490 annually while those working for radio and television stations earned $82,790 on average.


One in eight atmospheric scientists can be found working in the state of Colorado, home to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s National Geophysical Data Center. Meteorologists in Colorado average $99,510 per year while their colleagues at NOAA’s headquarters in Maryland earned $114,650 per year. New Jersey at $107,840, California at $98,130 and Texas at $95,320 are other states where salaries were above the national mean. The top pay among metropolitan area at $135,640 per year was for meteorologists working in the Baltimore-Towson, Maryland, area which includes NOAA’s national headquarters.


The BLS has a forecast for meteorologists that prospective weather professionals will love: sunny. For the 10-year period spanning 2008 to 2018, the bureau anticipates a 15 percent growth rate, which is faster than average for all professions. Private industry may hold the key to employment as competition in this field is keen. Obtain that graduate degree if you want to increase your chances of finding work or pursue a doctorate if you want to perform meteorological research.


National Weather Service: Careers

O-Net Online: Summary Report for: 19-2021.00 – Atmospheric and Space Scientists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition; Atmospheric Scientists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics; 19-2021 Atmospheric and Space Scientists

College Campus reference:

graduate/professional guide


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Categories: Career Planning