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Not all television weathermen technically are meteorologists. Those that are meteorologists have been trained in meteorology, which is the study of the atmosphere. Other television weathermen may have little scientific training. Meteorologists work in areas beside media, but those that carry the weatherman moniker provide weather forecasts for the public.
Meteorology and Atmospheric Science
A meteorologist's education centers on courses in atmospheric science and meteorology. Some schools offer degree programs in atmospheric science or meteorology, while many others that do not have degree programs still offer courses in that field, according to the American Meteorological Society. Degree paths include both broad studies in the field and more narrow ones that focus on a particular area, such as severe weather. Graduate degrees in meteorology or atmospheric science typically serve students with aspirations to perform research, rather than those seeking careers as weather forecasters.
Other Areas of Science
In addition to meteorology and atmospheric science, a meteorologist's education encompasses a range of other sciences. For instance, computer science is a critical area of study because meteorologists use computer modeling to develop their forecasts. Physics and mathematics also are central to a meteorologist's education. Other useful areas of study include oceanic science, hydrologic science, biology, chemistry and engineering, according to the American Meteorological Society.
Mass Communications Training
A broadcast meteorologist's career success depends on more than just displaying strong scientific knowledge and deft skill at making weather forecasts. Broadcast meteorologists must be able to connect with viewers as a television personality. The importance of on-camera comfort and appeal means budding broadcast meteorologists should consider including journalism, especially broadcast journalism, in their educations. A journalism education may go beyond coursework to hands-on experience, such as working for a campus media outlet or interning at a local affiliate.
Many of the specific skills that meteorologists gain in the classrooms and laboratories of their colleges will serve them directly in their careers. These include learning to collect and analyze data, to develop and use computer software and to use data analysis to create forecasts. The ability to analyze weather and atmosphere data depends heavily on a facility with mathematical calculations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meteorologists in college also learn to present their data and forecasts for consumption, including both written and spoken presentations.
2016 Salary Information for Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists
Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists earned a median annual salary of $92,460 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists earned a 25th percentile salary of $69,860, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $114,510, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 10,400 people were employed in the U.S. as atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists.
- American Meteorological Society: What Kind of Education Do I Need to be a Meteorologist?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists
- Career Trend: Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists
Tom Gresham is a freelance writer and public relations specialist who has been writing professionally since 1999. His articles have appeared in "The Washington Post," "Virginia Magazine," "Vermont Magazine," "Adirondack Life" and the "Southern Arts Journal," among other publications. He graduated from the University of Virginia.
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