How to Become a Meteorologist
Meteorologist Careers & Degrees

Meteorologists study weather patterns and natural events, and use the data they collect to provide forecasts and weather warnings.

If you’re interested in geography, climate, and sciences and have an aptitude for academic learning, then you may enjoy a career as a meteorologist.

Working as a meteorologist, you will be studying the atmosphere, its behaviors, and patterns.

Using a wide range of equipment and methodology, you will learn to identify weather patterns and trends, as well as predict likely outcomes.

Most meteorologists work to provide weather reports all around the world.

Some specialize in particular areas, such as natural disasters, others work in research or are employed in the academic world as professors.

Education Requirements to Become a Meteorologist

When you become a meteorologist it’s never too early to start.

If you’re still in high school you should take subjects in the sciences, as well as mathematics, and geography.

Academic skills in mathematics and physics are essential, since you’ll need to make good grades to get a place in college.

You might also like to get some experience at this stage.

While it’s somewhat unlikely that you could work part-time with meteorologists, you may be able to do some work experience there if your school runs a program like this.

Volunteering with local community groups with an interest in the environment is a good idea.

You’ll need to complete a four year bachelor of science while at college with a major in meteorology.

There are only about 20 schools in the country that offer these courses.

Competition is high, and you may also need to move to complete your studies.

If you can’t attend one of these schools, your next best option is to major in physics and take as many meteorology subjects as you can.

This will allow you access to a limited amount of jobs in meteorology, or act as pathway to postgraduate studies in the field.

It’s a good idea at this point to decide on what sector of meteorology you want to work in.

for example, some meteorologists work in television, others in research, while some work on the field.

Choosing elective subjects in complementary can help.

Internships are important, and if you have the opportunity you should take them up during your time at college.

Not only is it excellent work experience, but it makes a good addition to your resume, and may even lead to a job later on.

Meteorologist Job Description

Meteorologists can be divided into two categories; operational and theoretical.

Operation meteorologists are involved in the active side of the job, such as providing forecasts.

Their duties involve monitoring a range of testing equipment, analyzing data, and preparing reports.

Theoretical meteorologists spend their time involved with research.

This could involve conducting studies into weather patterns, creating new models, and writing papers and reports.

They may be required to travel as a part of their work, or spend time out on the field.

Many theoretical meteorologists are employed within education, and also teach at colleges as a part of their role.
Some typical duties of a meteorologist include:

  • Running tests and operating equipment
  • Maintaining databases
  • Providing weather forecasts
  • Providing weather warnings
  • Writing academic papers
  • Conducting studies into weather
  • Teaching

Meteorologist Salary and Career Path

After finishing college, meteorologists may find work for government departments, private weather prediction firms, in colleges and universities, news stations, or in other research facilities.

The type of work a candidate is looking for will have an effect on their place of employment.

Meteorologists that work in research will have much more predicable hours than forecast meteorologists, who may be required to work evenings and weekends.

In the event of a disaster, they may be called in to work unexpectedly.

While many meteorologists start their career in forecasting, many move on to work in research and education later.

Some become weather consultants, providing a specialist service to places like airports, or owners of tall buildings, who require their expertise.

The median salary for a meteorologist is $85,000.

The lowest paid 10% earn around $55,000 a year, while the 10% highest paid in the field earn more than $127,000.

Meteorology provides an interesting and rewarding career for those that have a passion and interest in natural science and weather phenomenon.

To become a meterologist, there is quite a bit of education required, however if you are interested in this work then you will find your time at college enjoyable.

Employment is secure and the salary available for meteorologists is quite good.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$97,160
$49K
$70K
$97K
$119K
$147K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$85,990
Alaska$89,340
Arizona$91,870
Arkansas$87,040
California$124,570
Colorado- NA -
District of Columbia$136,860
Florida$97,180
Georgia$106,100
Hawaii$103,690
Idaho$100,410
Illinois$77,600
Indiana$90,820
Iowa$86,200
Kansas$71,700
Kentucky$106,890
Louisiana$85,910
Maine$81,430
Maryland$107,130
Massachusetts$104,420
Michigan$88,040
Minnesota$79,730
Mississippi$76,640
Missouri$97,300
Montana$87,280
Nebraska$91,840
Nevada$91,500
New Hampshire$68,350
New Jersey$95,350
New Mexico$99,650
New York$107,180
North Carolina$81,790
North Dakota$73,770
Ohio$92,590
Oklahoma$82,490
Oregon$103,830
Pennsylvania$82,440
South Carolina$94,410
South Dakota$84,490
Tennessee$90,470
Texas$100,960
Utah$95,010
Virginia$113,620
West Virginia$66,410
Wisconsin$91,560
Wyoming$87,280

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $136,860.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $136,860
California - $124,570
Virginia - $113,620
New York - $107,180
Maryland - $107,130
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Atmospheric and Space Scientists, OCC Code 19-2021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a meteorologist do?

Meteorologists are scientists who use scientific principles to forecast how the earth’s atmosphere affects the planet and everyone on it.

There are a few different types of meteorologists – operational, atmospheric, forensic, broadcast, synoptic, physical, consulting, research, environmental, archive and research meteorologists.

Scientists can also work as teachers or professors.

Meteorologists usually work for consulting businesses, TV/radio stations, the military, educational facilities, and the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration.

Depending on the specialization, the typical duties of a meteorologist will differ.

Climate meteorologists (or climatologists), for example, help predict future climate trends by looking at long term weather patterns and data from hundreds or even millions of years ago.

Operational meteorologists study wind speed, direction, humidity, air pressure, and temperature, and so on.

QuestionHow much do meteorologists make?

On average, a meteorologist can make a little less than $43.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $30.000 and $109.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

The meteorologists that work in Alaska, Oklahoma, and Texas, for example, have the highest average salaries.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a meteorologist?

In most cases, you would have to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, in order to become a meteorologist.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

However, the more advanced roles will require you to have a master’s degree (between $30.000 and $120.000) or a doctorate degree (around $30.000 per year).

A Ph.D. is a must if you want to teach or conduct independent research.

QuestionWhat is the demand for meteorologists?

Between 2018 and 2028, the atmospheric scientist (including meteorologists) job market is expected to grow by 8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is a little faster than the national average for all occupations in the United States.

Job opportunities will be best for those candidates who possess a master’s or a doctorate degree.

The best job prospects will be provided by the private industry.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a meteorologist?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree, 2-3 years to acquire a master’s degree, and anywhere between 4 and 6 years to earn a Ph.D.

The sooner you decide what sphere you want to work in, the better.

Depending on your area of interest, you might be required to take some classes in journalism, computer science, or chemistry, for example.

Any type of related experience and internships will help you find a job in the future.

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