;Meteorologists usually specialize in one type of work. The largest group of
specialists are Forecasters (Operational Meteorologists) who analyze
current and expected weather conditions and predict short and long range
weather changes based on data received from satellites and worldwide weather
stations. General Forecasters provide weather summaries for limited
geographic areas. Specialized Forecasters develop forecasts for use in
agriculture, aviation, forestry, and marine operations. Research
Meteorologists study atmospheric physics to advance meteorological theory
and to improve mathematical models of atmospheric activity. They may study
the dispersal of air pollutants over urban areas, severe storm mechanics,
weather modification, and new weather prediction techniques. Climatologists
study climatic variations spanning hundreds or even millions of years.
Environmental problems, such as pollution, and shortage of food, fuel, and
water, have widened the scope of the meteorological profession.
Environmental Meteorologists study these problems and prepare and evaluate
the "Air Quality" sections of Environmental Impact Reports. Meteorologists
also teach their subject at universities.
Consulting meteorologists provide specialized information to both the
private and public sectors. In theoretical Research, they investigate the
interactions of atmospheric gases and the dynamics of the earth's
environment. Specialists in applied Research take the information of the
theoretical Researchers and use it in the design of aircraft, control of air
pollution, improved communication, city planning, and safer transportation.
Some may also do environmental impact studies, provide expert witness
testimony at hearings, and analyze the feasibility of developing a
particular site for industrial uses.
Meteorologists work in government agencies, private consulting and Research
services, industrial enterprises, utilities, radio and television stations,
and in education. Jobs at most weather stations require night work and
rotating shifts. Most stations are located at airports or in large cities,
although some are located in isolated areas. Fieldwork and/or travel is
common in Research and consulting jobs. The American Meteorological Society
and various other scientific organizations provide forums where
meteorologists may share findings and explore new directions within their
The employment level for meteorologists will increase slightly over the next
few years. The National Weather Service, the largest employer of
meteorologists, expects to increase employment to improve short-term and
local-area weather forecasts. The number of applicants for jobs in
California is likely to exceed the number of job openings. Persons with
advanced degrees will have an advantage, but experience is required for most
employers for employment as a meteorologist. Opportunities in broadcasting
are rare and very competitive.
The following information is from the California Projections of Employment
published by the Labor Market Information Division .
These figures represent the broad occupational group Atmospheric and Space
Scientists which includes Meteorologists.
Estimated number of workers in 1993 300
Estimated number of workers in 2005 350
Projected Growth 1993-2005 17?
Estimated openings due to separations by 2005 120
(These figures do not include self-employment or openings due to turnover.)
There are about 20,000 meteorologists working today nationwide. About 1,000
degrees in meteorology and atmospheric science are awarded each year from
the nation's colleges. Although few receive multiple job offers, most
applicants find employment in the field eventually.
WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS
Persons entering federal government service as National Weather Service
meteorologists with bachelor's degrees and no experience begin at the GS 5-7
level, with annual salaries starting at $19,520 to $24,178. Graduates with
master's degrees start at the GS 7-9 level, ranging from $24,178 to $29,577
per year. Those with doctorates start at the GS 9-11 level, offering annual
starting salaries ranging from $29,577 to $35,786. The top level for
meteorologists with the NWS is at the GS 13 level, which starts at $51,003
annually. In private industry and consulting firms, salaries begin at about
the same level but may range much higher. Some consultants and many
broadcast personalities earn annual incomes of $120,000 or more.
ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING
A bachelor's degree in mathematics or the physical sciences, including at
least 20 semester credits in Meteorology, is the minimum requirement for
professional positions. Degrees in Atmospheric Science or Meteorology are