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Are you fascinated by clouds? Do you watch the sky, smell the air, and know instinctively when a storm is brewing? Maybe you'd like to become a meteorologist.

Meteorologists are atmospheric scientists who study information on air pressure, pollution, temperature, humidity, and wind velocity, and apply physical and mathematical relationships to make short- and long-range weather forecasts, determine climate change, and determine what it is that makes hurricanes and electric storms. Their data comes from weather satellites, computer models of the world's atmosphere, weather radar, and sensors and information gathered by observers in many parts of the world.

Weather information is important to many people, not just those of us who want to head out to the beach next weekend. Government agencies, environmental groups, and private companies that provide outdoor services all need to know about the weather. Therefore, meteorologists specialize in one area.

Some work as applied meteorologists, providing analyses, forecasts, warnings and advice tailored to the requirements of industries, (logging, aviation), businesses (theme parks) and government (National Weather Service, conservation authorities).

Some work as climatologists, and study weather records gathered over long periods of time and conduct simulations of climate conditions to understand and predict global changes and long-term or seasonal weather patterns for specific regions, and anticipate the impact of climate change and adaptation strategies.

Others choose to work as research meteorologists, studying the processes of weather systems. They may study small-scale phenomena, like clouds and the atmosphere's chemical properties, as well as large-scale phenomena , like the transport of air pollutants, or hurricanes.

Others work as instrumentation specialists, scientists who develop instruments and systems to measure and record weather variables. While still others work as weather broadcasters , the people we hear on the radio and see on television, providing weather forecasts and other weather information to the public via television, radio and the Internet.

Obviously, the weather affects much more than how many layers you'll need to pack in that beach bag. Meteorologists know this; they work in a number of areas to try to understand the unpredictable and often uncontrollable weather here on Earth.
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in working as a meteorologist? Meterologists are interested in the environment, as well as conservation and prevention. They are thoughtful, analytical thinkers who enjoy science. They should be creative, and good communicators both orally and in writing. Meterologists must be able to think in terms of space as well as time. They should enjoy analyzing and creating theory from data. Meterologists must be able to work well independently and as part of a team.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Predict climate change, weather patterns, and long-range forecasts
  • Advise public and private interests about weather and climate, air quality (including pollution levels and allergens), sea and lake ice, and UV exposure
  • Conduct research and develop models
  • Apply meteorological knowledge to problems in agriculture, forestry, air pollution, water management, energy, transportation and the arctic environment
  • The day-to-day tasks of a meteorologist depends on the type of work environment and area of specialization they are involved in. Most of each day will be spent analyzing computer models, looking at data gathered from radar and human sources, and watching the sky. They also measure pollution levels in the air and water, and watch for airborne allergens, especially in the spring and fall. They may travel, especially if they follow storm patterns or track pollution problems, and some may spend some of each day outdoors, especially when monitoring the atmosphere.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Many meteorologists work for the National Weather Service, although increasingly, meteorologists are being employed by the private and non-profit sectors. They may find work with private meteorology firms (advising businesses and groups that rely on good weather), resource industries (for example, gas and oil exploration), utility companies (like hydroelectric utilities), environmental consulting firms, and transportation companies. Even individuals like farmers, construction workers, and commodities investors are turning to short- and long-term weather forecasts on a daily basis. Meteorologists who have doctoral degrees may be employed as instructors and researchers at universities.
  • Most meteorologists work in office settings in urban centers. Some, like applied meteorologists at weather centers work rotating shifts, including night work, and may sometimes work alone. Weather broadcasters often work evening shifts and may work long hours during weather-related emergencies.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Meteorologists can specialize in one area, like climate study, pollution watch, or atmospheric research. They can work for many different groups and organizations, or start up their own consulting agency. They can also get into broadcasting.

  Educational Paths  
The first step to becoming a meterologist is the completion of a Bachelor of Science degree in atmospheric sciences, meteorology, climatology, math, physics, hydrology, environmental science, computer science, chemistry, or a combination of these areas of study.

More advanced study, at the master's or PhD level, will increase their chance of getting a job and being promoted. Research and teaching positions require a graduate degree.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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Programs Offered:
  • BS in Environmental Policy and Management

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