Career guide: Meteorologist

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	Meteorologists make weather predictions.
    Meteorologists make weather predictions.

    Career guide: Meteorologist

    If you have a passion for the environment and a head for numbers and physics, you could be well-suited to a career as a meteorologist upon completion of your advanced degree program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, meteorologists work in an array of settings, from universities to government weather stations and television networks, studying regional, national or even international weather patterns, making predictions and delivering forecasts. 

    If you're interested in learning more about this dynamic and exciting career path, read on. Below is a comprehensive guide to a career in meteorology:

    A closer look at meteorology
    Meteorology, as a scientific discipline, is concerned with weather patterns, both in the short and long term. The American Meteorological Society explained that the practice can be traced all the way back to Ancient Greece, when individuals attempted to predict the weather in a bid to help agricultural workers. Since then the practice of weather forecasting has been an indispensable tool to societies across the world, with weather predictions helping to inform individuals, businesses and governments about potential disruptions to daily life caused by the weather. 

    Paths that can be pursued in meteorology
    Meteorologists are professionals who use meteorological science to scrutinize weather and climate patterns, to make predictions, conduct research, develop policy and so on. While the term meteorologist usually leads one to think of weather presenters on television, that's just one path that professionals can pursue under the umbrella of meteorology. Qualified individuals can work as researchers, weather forecasters and teachers, among other things. Here is a closer look at several common career paths in meteorology, as detailed by the American Meteorological Society:

    • Television or radio 
      As mentioned, professionals working in broadcast meteorology are perhaps what one thinks of first when imagining a career in the field. Weather forecasters working for television, newspapers, radio stations or online forecasting sites are responsible for using their skills to interpret weather data to make forecasts, whether that's at a local, regional or national level, then delivering those forecasts to viewers, readers or listeners. As stressed by the source, not only does this career typically require a strong background in meteorological science, confidence in front of the camera and adept communication skills are also a must. Additionally, broadcast meteorologists will often need to design their own forecasts on computers, displaying weather symbols and other graphics. 
    • Research
      Whether in a university setting, for an independent agency or a government body, research meteorologists analyze various areas of meteorological science, whether that's specific weather patterns or phenomena – El Niño, for example – or long-term changes and patterns pertaining to global climate change. Given that atmospheric science overlaps with and informs other disciplines, such as physics, oceanography and mathematics, the source explained that research meteorologists may work with scientists from other professions to help learn more about the ways that weather and climate affect other earth-based processes – for example, the way that climate change affects ocean life. Research meteorologists can even branch away from science, working with politicians and civil servants to advise on policies pertaining to how the weather affects everyday life, and how climate change may impact human life and settlements in the future.
    • Forecasting
      Not all weather forecasters work in front of the camera. Television stations, government organizations and independent weather forecasting services all rely on teams of weather forecasters who collect weather data and scrutinize it to develop forecasts. Indeed, as detailed by the source, global weather is predicted using data that is collected on a daily basis, around the world, at tens of thousands of weather stations. The data that is utilized by forecasters takes many forms, from simple weather observations, to information collected from satellites and special weather balloons. The observations are collected by forecasters and the data is then inserted into computer-based weather models, which then offer guidance and predictions. Weather forecasters are found in the public sector, at government agencies such as the National Weather Service in the U.S., as well as in private, for-profit weather forecasting companies, such as AccuWeather. 
    • Teaching in higher education
      Advanced degree programs in meteorology at universities need instructors, so qualified meteorologists could pursue a teaching career at an institution of higher education. Teaching in this field involves duties typical of all disciplines – teaching students by conducting lectures and seminars, supervising research projects and serving as an advisor on master's or Ph.D. dissertation work. At many universities professors are also required to complete research of their own and publish books and/or articles. 

    How to become a meteorologist
    As detailed by the World Meteorological Association, in terms of qualifications, at the very minimum a bachelor of science in meteorology is required to enter the profession. A bachelor of science in atmospheric science is also acceptable. Professionals with advanced degrees, however, are more likely to progress further in the field. To work in a university setting, for example, a master of science or Ph.D. are often prerequisites. In addition to the stated qualifications, meteorologists need a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of academic disciplines such as mathematics and physics. 

    The source elaborated that the best meteorologists will be comfortable working long and erratic hours – weekends and holidays, for example – and will also possess strong communication and IT skills, in addition to a detailed knowledge of atmospheric processes. 

    Job growth
    As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the industry remains healthy, with growth expected. Indeed, by the year 2024, employment will have likely increased by some 9 percent when compared with 2014 levels.

    Typical salary
    As of 2015, according to the BLS, the median nationwide salary for meteorologists and atmospheric scientists was close to $90,000 a year. Salaries, however, can vary widely within the profession. Broadcast meteorologists, for example, as reported by popular careers website Payscale, make a median salary of around $51,000 annually, although it is not uncommon for more experienced and reputable broadcast meteorologists to make in excess of six figures a year.

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