How To Become a Meteorologist

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 3, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Science
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If you love the idea of studying weather, you should learn how to become a meteorologist. This may be the perfect career choice for you.

As a meteorologist, you get to study weather phenomena and help predict patterns. Your job is also one that’s very important to public safety. When a big storm is coming, you’ll likely be the one predicting it.

The career of a meteorologist is an important and interesting one. Let’s look at some of the common job duties and how you can become a meteorologist.

How To Become a Meteorologist

Job Duties of a Meteorologist

When you become a meteorologist, you will use math and science to understand the weather, environment, and climate changes. In addition, it will be necessary to use a computer and understand chemistry and physics.

There are a few different types of meteorologists with different job duties. Most meteorologists are scientists that forecast weather, however.

The main job duty of a meteorologist is to provide a weather prediction on a day-to-day basis. You will predict big weather events and any changes in the weather, as well.

Some meteorologists will look closer at climatology. It’s also possible to be a meteorologist and look at how pollution impacts the environment. You might even be tasked with surveying the changes in the environment to gain a clearer understanding of the atmosphere.

Many people think of meteorologists as the weather person on TV. While this is a very common position within this career path, it’s not what all meteorologists do. In fact, many of the ones you see on TV may not even be meteorologists.

Weathermen and women are more likely news anchors with a degree and experience in journalism. While some weather people have formal scientific training, it’s more likely; they have a meteorologist providing them with the necessary information about the weather they are reporting on.

How To Become a Meteorologist in 4 Steps

Step #1 – Finish High School

The first step towards becoming a meteorologist is finishing high school or equivalent. As a meteorologist, you will need to have a deep understanding of science. During high school, take as many AP science and math courses as you can. This can help you get into a better college degree program.

You want to keep your GPA up and score very high on the SAT or ACT, as well. A good SAT prep course or ACT prep course can help to ensure you achieve a high score.

During this time, you also want to decide on a career path. Meteorologists have a few different options. You can study the weather and make weather predictions. You can also study the impacts of pollution or climatology.

If you’re interested in being a television anchor, you will want a different type of degree. This type of career path will likely require a communications or journalism degree. However, if you truly want to be a meteorologist, the scientific path is right for you.

Step #2 – Get Your Bachelor’s Degree

If you want to be a meteorologist, you will need a bachelor’s degree. Often, this type of career will require a bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science or Meteorology. However, you may also be able to get a degree in Physical Sciences, Engineering, or Mathematics and still become a meteorologist.

Step #3 – Get Your Master’s Degree

While a bachelor’s degree is all you’re required to get to be a meteorologist, many go on to graduate school. When you get a master’s degree, you have a chance of landing a better job. Some even go on to get a doctoral degree if they plan to go into research.

You can get a master’s degree in meteorology online. This is known as a non-thesis master’s degree, and you will only need to complete 10 to 12 total courses. You may need to visit the school you attend to complete a final workshop, however.

Step #4 – Develop Your Computer Skills

It’s very important for anybody looking to go into meteorology to develop great computer skills. Meteorologists will use advanced computer programs regularly to measure weather conditions. In addition, it’s common to use databases, scientific devices, and even broadcasting equipment regularly. Make sure you understand advanced technology if you want to become successful as a meteorologist.

The Common Types of Meteorologists

When you’re trying to decide on a career path, it’s important to understand the types of meteorologists found within this career. There are five common types, which include:

Each career path is a bit different and requires the right degrees and training. Make sure you choose the right path for you before you enter college.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Meteorologist

How much does a meteorologist make each year?

The average salary for a meteorologist is about $99K per year. However, your actual income will depend on your degree level, experience, location, and the type of meteorologist you become. For example, if you work for the U.S. Department of the Navy, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or any other military branch, you will likely earn an above-average salary.

Some locations also pay a higher salary than others. College Park in Maryland has the highest average salary for meteorologists. Norman, Oklahoma is next on the list, with Monterey, California coming in third. All three locations offer average salaries of more than $90K per year.

What type of benefits will I get as a meteorologist?

It’s common for meteorologists to gain access to many benefits. Health insurance, including dental and vision insurance, is very common. Most will also gain access to a 401(k), life insurance, relocation assistance, and paid time off.

What type of employer hires a meteorologist?

While you may think meteorologists only work for local and national news networks, there are many employers for this career choice. Government agencies tend to hire meteorologists. You might also work for a legal office in forensic meteorology. Many private businesses also hire meteorologists.

Can I earn certification in Meteorology?

Yes, you can earn a certification, but it might not get you very far without at least a bachelor’s degree. The American Meteorologist Society provides certification options to help you specialize in a specific area, such as broadcasting. If you want to work on TV, this can be helpful to go along with your bachelor’s degree.

Certifications can also help you earn a higher salary. In addition, with the right certifications, you can gain more knowledge and training in a specialized area.

Is the demand for meteorologists high?

Yes, the demand for meteorologists is above the average of all occupations. This field is expected to grow by about 8% over the next ten years. With more businesses looking to understand better the climate and change, this is a growing career.

What type of hours does a meteorologist work?

Most meteorologists work a full-time week, but they rarely keep regular 9-to-5 hours. It’s common for those just starting out to work rotating shifts. Entry-level positions can include long hours to cover the weather continually.

Some meteorologists will work nights, weekends, and holidays. It’s common to work extended hours during a severe weather event.

If you’re looking for a more regular schedule, you may want to become an atmospheric scientist. This type of meteorologist keeps a bit more of a normal schedule. However, researchers can also work long hours when trying to meet a deadline.

What is the work environment like for a meteorologist?

Most meteorologists will work indoors in a weather station. You may also spend time in a laboratory or an office environment. Some jobs in this field will include some outdoor work, too. If you go into broadcast meteorology, you may report weather events from the field, as well.

What type of subjects will I study if I become a meteorologist?

If you get a degree to become a meteorologist, you will study many science and math subjects. It’s common to get a degree in atmospheric science. This type of degree will have you taking classes in chemistry, physics, and geoscience.

Likely, you will also take many math courses and even some computer programming courses. Some graduate programs will even include programs in engineering. If you plan to go into research, expect to get a doctoral degree. This will include even more scientific study courses.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.