Climatologists study and predict long-term weather patterns, including precipitation and average annual temperatures, and the effects they have on oceans, coastal areas, agriculture and wildlife. Their forecasts can also help architects design buildings and determine the most efficient cooling and heating systems to use. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies climatologists as atmospheric scientists. Salaries in this field can vary, depending on geographical location and experience.
Salary Between $85,000 and $90,000
The average salary for a climatologist was $88,140 as of May 2013, the BLS reports. The top 10 percent made more than $129,750 annually. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a bachelor's degree in meteorology or a bachelor's degree in a closely related science major, including physics, chemistry or geology. Those employed in research or by universities or colleges usually need a doctoral degree in meteorology or one of the earth sciences. National Weather Service climatologists must have at least 200 hours of on-the-job training during their first two years of employment. Other essential career requirements are math, critical-thinking and communication skills.
High Federal Government Salaries
Salaries for climatologists can vary significantly by employer. Those who worked for the federal government, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, earned average salaries of $97,350 per year as of 2013. Climatologists employed in scientific research and development averaged $94,190. They made $83,990 in the radio and television broadcasting industry, while those at universities, colleges and professional schools averaged $78,070.
Top Pay in Virginia
In 2013, Virginia paid climatologists the most among the states listed at $104,870. They earned the second and third highest salaries in New Jersey and Missouri -- $103,580 and $98,580 per year, respectively. Climatologists made $94,400 in Colorado, while those in California averaged 91,350 annually. These scientists earned $88,920, $77,200 and $66,090 in Massachusetts, Montana and Texas, respectively. Living costs, which are often higher in east and west coast states, are one of the primary factors that affect salaries.
Average Career Outlook
The BLS predicts a 10 percent increase in employment for atmospheric scientists, including climatologists, from 2012 to 2022, which is statistically on par with the 11 percent estimated national rate for all occupations. Newer computer models that are capable of more accurate forecasts have increased the demand for atmospheric scientists. Still, the competition for jobs is typically stiff. Aspiring climatologists can increase their chances of getting jobs by obtaining more advanced degrees, such as master's and doctoral degrees.