Meteorologists


Requirements

Education and Training Requirements

High School

You can best prepare for a college major in meteorology by taking high school courses in mathematics, geography, computer science, physics, and chemistry. A good command of English is essential because you must be able to describe complex weather events and patterns in a clear and concise way.

Postsecondary Training

Although some beginners in meteorological work have majored in subjects related to meteorology, the usual minimal requirement for work in this field is a bachelor's degree in meteorology. For entry-level positions in the federal government, you must have a bachelor's degree (not necessarily in meteorology) with at least 24 semester hours of meteorology courses, including six hours in the analysis and prediction of weather systems and two hours of remote sensing of the atmosphere or instrumentation. Other required courses include calculus, physics, and other physical science courses, such as statistics, computer science, chemistry, physical oceanography, and physical climatology. Advanced graduate training in meteorology and related areas is required for research and teaching positions, as well as for other high-level positions in meteorology. Doctorates are quite common among high-level personnel.

The National Weather Service offers information about educational programs and careers in meteorology and atmospheric sciences at its Web site, https://www.weather.gov/careers.

Because the armed forces require the services of so many meteorologists, they have programs to send recently commissioned, new college graduates to civilian universities for intensive work in meteorology.

Other Education or Training

The National Weather Association offers continuing education (CE) opportunities at its annual conference. Past sessions included "Careers in Broadcast Meteorology," "Career Opportunities as a Consultant," "Adjusted Tornado Probabilities," and "Determining Skill in Maximum and Minimum Temperature Forecasts." The American Meteorological Society, National Council of Industrial Meteorologists, and the World Meteorological Association also provide CE classes and workshops. Contact these organizations to learn more.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The American Meteorological Society provides the following certification designations: certified broadcast meteorologist and certified consulting meteorologist.

To become a certified broadcast meteorologist, applicants must have a degree in meteorology (or equivalent) from an accredited college or university, pass a written examination, have their work reviewed to "assess technical competence, informational value, explanatory value, and communication skills," and pass an examination. The certified consulting meteorologist designation is awarded to meteorologists who meet educational requirements, have at least two years’ full-time or three years' part-time experience in the field, meet character requirements, and pass an examination. The National Weather Association offers the Weathercaster Seal of Approval. Contact these organizations for information on certification requirements.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience in the field as possible by participating in summer internships, co-ops, and part-time jobs with the National Weather Service, private weather consulting firms, commercial airlines, and related employers.

To be a successful meteorologist, you must be able to work well under pressure in order to meet deadlines and plot severe weather systems. You must be able to communicate complex theories and events, orally and in writing. You must be able to absorb pertinent information quickly and pass it on to coworkers and the public in a clear, calm manner. Meteorologists who work in broadcasting must have especially good communication skills in order to effectively convey information to viewers and listeners. They must be able to deal with the pressure and deadlines of the newsroom.