Growth Trends for Related Jobs
Becoming a Meteorologist: Making a Living From the Weather
If you’re always checking your smartphone’s weather app, watching tornado videos on YouTube or making bets on whether it’s going to snow, a career in meteorology may be for you. If you get a job in this field, you’ll be spending your days evaluating and predicting weather conditions. Employment opportunities are diverse, so you may well be able to find a job that offers a schedule compatible with your family’s schedules.
Meteorologists specialize in the study of climate and weather, preparing reports that can be used by the media, governments, the legal system and private industry. If you enter this field, you’ll use specialized equipment to perform tests and make observations about weather conditions, including temperature, humidity and air pressure. Depending on your job, you also may use computer programs to analyze gathered data and develop reports that can be used by businesses and institutions to make important decisions about commerce, public safety and environmental policies. Some meteorologists also develop careers in broadcast journalism, reporting on weather conditions for television and radio stations.
The education required to become a meteorologist depends on your career goals. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, you’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science or a related scientific field. If you plan to go into research or academia, you’ll need to earn a graduate degree. Because jobs in this field are so varied, you might want to work with a career counselor or academic advisor to develop a career plan. If you have a goal in mind, you’ll be better able to decide what educational path makes the most sense.
According to the BLS, the median average wage for atmospheric scientists, which includes meteorologists, was $92,460 in May 2016. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $140,830, while the bottom 10 percent of earners earned less than $51,480. Salaries vary considerably depending on the type of employer: Those employed by the federal government reported an average median wage of $101,320 in 2016. Television broadcasters reported an average median salary of 87,990, while those who worked for consulting services made $69,860.
Meteorologists find employment in a variety of industries. Some 29 percent work for the federal government, 23 percent work in research and development, and 15 percent work in academia. Only 7 percent work in television, while the remaining 6 percent are consultants.
If you become a meteorologist, you can expect to work in an office, though you may have to spend a fair amount of time out in the field. This can be particularly true if you are tracking weather events or work in television, as you may be asked to report on local weather conditions while outside and experiencing the elements first-hand.
Years of Experience
As a meteorologist, you can expect to see your income increase as you gain experience in your field. A survey by PayScale.com reflects the correspondence between experience and compensation:
- 0–5 years: $47,000
- 5–10 years: $56,000
- 10–20 years: $65,000
- 20+ years: $91,000
Job Growth Trend
The BLS anticipates a 12 percent increase in the employment of meteorologists between 2016 and 2026, which is faster-than-average job growth. However, the BLS also notes that meteorologists with graduate degrees may have an easier time finding jobs, as competition for positions requiring only a bachelor’s degree is projected to be fierce.
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.