How To Become a Storm Chaser

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 3, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Science
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Are you looking for a super exciting career filled with potential danger? Learning how to become a storm chaser might be perfect for you. Maybe this has been a hobby of yours for a while. Why not turn it into a career?

You may have no idea this is an actual profession. Some may think storm chasing is only a hobby. However, it’s a paying job, and you can become a storm chaser with the right steps.

How To Become a Storm Chaser

How to Become a Storm Chaser in 4 Steps

Step #1 – Start Storm Chasing as a Hobby

Most professional storm chasers start as hobbyists first. However, if you want to get started, the best option is to contact the National Weather Service. They have a course called SkyWarn, which is a great place to start.

This class will teach you the basics of storm watching and predicting storm activity. It will also teach you how to measure certain stats and how to stay safe out chasing storms.

Along with the SkyWarn class, you should consider learning how to use a radio properly. It’s important to know how to use a radio to communicate with other storm chasers and in emergencies.

Step #2 – Become a Meteorologist

It’s very common for storm chasers first to become meteorologists. This gives them a solid career and an income to support their storm chasing. However, as a meteorologist, you will also have the right training and education to understand storms better.

Meteorologists often chase storms as a part of a research project. It can even be a part of their regular job. For example, some meteorologists will teach a college course, work for weather services, and chase storms for just a few months per year. They might do this to collect data and perform research.

If you want to go this route, you will need a bachelor’s degree in science. In addition, a postgraduate degree in meteorology will also be necessary to become a meteorologist.

Step #3 – Chase Storms for Video and Pictures

You can make a living by selling your video and pictures to media outlets or even online. If you want to chase storms, taking videos and pictures can give you a way to make money from storm chasing. Of course, you can also perform research and sell the data you find, too.

Step #4 – Become a Photographer or Videographer

Another common route storm chasers go is to become a photographer or videographer first. This allows you to earn a living and also chase storms. Since videos and pictures of storms can be helpful for research and media agencies, this is a way to make money and chase storms.

If you want to become a storm chaser, becoming a photographer or a videographer is a great pathway.

Requirements to Become a Storm Chaser

If you want to chase storms as a job, you will likely go into meteorology or weather service. Hobbyists won’t need to worry as much about requirements.

Professional storm chasers will likely need a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science or meteorology. This is a good starting point. Gaining some hands-on experience will also help.

It’s also helpful to be very tech-savvy. Most storm chasers will use a specific type of equipment to measure data, take pictures, and record videos. Of course, you will also need to be able to drive.

Enrolling in a Training Program for Storm Chasers

You will likely want to enroll in the SkyWarn program from the National Weather Service. The SKYWARN® Spotter Training course is available online and covers the basics of being a spotter. This is a volunteer program and will help you gain the basic skills you need. Even with a bachelor’s degree, this course can be very helpful for storm chasers.

Duties of a Storm Chaser

It’s rather common for storm chasers to work with all types of weather. Some of the common duties will include:

As a storm chaser, you may have many different duties. These are just a few of the things you will do when you become a storm chaser.

Type of Equipment Storm Chasers Use

You will need a vehicle. This is where your equipment will start. It’s helpful to have four-wheel drive and a rather powerful vehicle. You should also make sure your vehicle is large enough for the rest of your equipment.

Other equipment you will likely need includes:

It’s also important to make sure you have a spare tire and other items in case of an emergency.

Become a Celebrity Storm Chaser

While it’s not an easy thing to do, you can become a celebrity storm chaser. If you start to make a name for yourself, you can gain celebrity status in the industry. Excellent footage will help you get there.

While this may not seem possible, there have been a few very popular celebrity storm chasers in the past. Warren Faidley is known as one of the best. He has provided pictures that have sold for more than $10K per picture. Some consider Warren to be the best storm chaser in the industry.

Another celebrity storm chaser is Reed Timmer. He’s known as one of the top storm chasers due to his show Storm Chaser on the Discovery Channel.

You can make a name for yourself and become a celebrity storm chaser with excellent footage and experience.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Storm Chaser

How much can I make as a storm chaser?

Storm chasers don’t earn a large amount of cash, typically. However, some can do rather well if they know what they are doing. This is commonly a second job for serious storm chasers.

The average salary comes in at about $18K per year for storm chasers. You can sell photos, data, and videos from storm chasing online and to media agencies, as well. You will need the right equipment and the ability to travel, so it can cost some cash to become a storm chaser, too.

You can earn $500 or more for storm footage. In some cases, you can earn even more. For example, some storm chasers conduct storm chasing tours, which pay $3,500 or more per tour.

What is a typical storm chasing session like?

If you decide to become a storm chaser, you can expect a storm chasing session to include quite a bit of driving. You will be looking for storms throughout your area.

It will also include analyzing and monitoring quite a bit of data. This can help you spot storms. As a storm chaser, you will have quite a bit of downtime and a significant amount of drive time, too.

How do I find a storm-chasing job?

It’s rather common to get recognized for video or photos you have provided from storms. This can help you build up a reputation within the industry. You can also find jobs through your local National Weather Service. Universities may also provide fieldwork assignments.

You will likely work freelance. As a freelance storm chaser, you can sell your footage to media outlets. Expert footage of clouds, tornadoes, and storms can allow you to land job contracts and earn a living.

Is storm chasing dangerous?

Yes, it’s very dangerous. You will be taking risks every single time you chase storms. Severe weather can change without notice. If you misjudge a storm, it can provide flying debris and cause a ton of damage.

Road accidents are common during storms, too. It’s an adrenaline rush and a thrill to chase storms.

Why do people become storm chasers?

Most people don’t become storm chasers as their main job. Instead, they do it as a side job or as a hobby. Some will do it seasonally. The main reasons people become storm chasers include:

Many storm chasers love a thrill. They love the dangerous aspect of it and probably find storms to be rather beautiful.

What is the cost of the SkyWarn class?

The National Weather Service offers the SkyWarn classes for free. They are found throughout the country at local offices. Most classes are offered in-person and happen in the late winter or early spring. Classes commonly last around two hours.

If you want to become a storm chaser, you will likely want to become a meteorologist first. This is a great career path for those that want to enjoy a bit of danger and study weather. As a storm chaser, you will work outside quite a bit, which can be rather rewarding.

Of course, capturing the perfect video or image can be rather thrilling. So if you want a job with a thrill, learning how to become a storm chaser is a great option for you.

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.