Meteorology is a good career for people who like looking at the sky; it is the study of the weather, and the scientists who do this job are called meteorologists. Actually observing the weather is part of their work, but meteorologists also use computers and tools such as weather balloons and rain gauges. The tasks and responsibilities of a meteorologist will vary depending on where he is employed and what the main focus of his job is. According to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, the median wage for all atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists, was $87,780 as of May, 2010.
Forecasting the Weather
Weather forecasting is a common job for many meteorologists. To find out what may happen in the near future, they look at current conditions and evaluate trends such as airflow patterns and temperatures. If the weather is likely to become dangerous, including flooding, high winds or hail, they issue warnings to help people prepare to the best of their abilities. Meteorologists issue special warnings when severe storms such as hurricanes and tornadoes are a concern.
Teaching Children and Adults
Some meteorologists work as teachers, especially at the college level, though many also teach students in the primary grades and on into high school. It’s not uncommon for someone teaching meteorology to combine it with teaching other sciences as well. Meteorologists who have advanced or specialized knowledge and training may work for private meteorological institutes or run seminars and workshops to teach these skills to other meteorologists. At the university level, they usually train students who hope to become meteorologists in the future.
Forensic meteorologists work with law enforcement officers, including local and state police, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Instead of predicting the weather, forensic meteorologists figure out what was going on at a particular date and time in the past. Part of the detective work is using weather charts, radar information, satellite photos and other archived data to figure out if the weather played a part in an event such as a house fire or a car accident. If he’s good at his job, a meteorologist may end up testifying in court as an expert witness.
Public and Private Employment
Meteorologists work in both the public and the private sectors. They may work for the government at any level, forecasting weather changes to help planners be ready with resources such as snowplows and gravel trucks. Private forecasters may find employment with groups such as commodities traders, professional sports teams and other business ventures. They let their employers know how the weather is likely to impact the company’s investments so the organization can decide how best to proceed. Some meteorologists join the Army or another branch of the military, predicting how the weather might affect various operations.
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.