All About Careers in Meteorology

About Careers in Meteorology Collage

Do you have a strong interest in the sciences and are considering a degree in meteorology? Are you not sure what career path to pursue? The following career information will give you a broad overview of the exciting field of atmospheric and related sciences.

What is Meteorology?

Meteorology is the science of the atmosphere. It takes its name from the Greek word meteoron—something that happens high in the sky. The ancient Greeks observed clouds, winds, and rain and tried to understand how they are connected to one another. The weather was important in their relatively simple society because it affected the farmers who raised their food and their seamen who sailed the oceans. Today, our complex society and our environment are affected even more seriously by events and changes in the atmosphere. We must address many complicated issues and answer many difficult questions about the behavior of the atmosphere and its effects on the people of our planet.

What is a Meteorologist?

The American Meteorological Society defines a meteorologist as a person with specialized education "who uses scientific principles to explain, understand, observe, or forecast the earth's atmospheric phenomena and/or how the atmosphere affects the earth and life on the planet." This education usually includes a bachelor's or higher degree from a college or university. Many meteorologists have degrees in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and other fields. The broader term "atmospheric science" often is used to describe the combination of meteorology and other branches of physical science that are involved in studying the atmosphere.

Career Videos

Interested in learning more about different job sectors in meteorology and related fields? Watch our videos as members of the weather, water, and climate community discuss their work experiences and share job tips and advice.

Liz McGiffin on careers in meteorology
Greg Carbin on careers in meteorology
Susan Jasko on careers in meteorology
Irene Sans on careers in meteorology
Maureen McCann on careers in meteorology

Would Meteorology be a Good Career for Me?

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself if you are considering a career in meteorology:

  • Am I curious about the world around me and why it is the way it is?
  • Would I like to work in a field of science that has many important applications in human affairs such as warning others of hazardous weather or investigating the atmospheric forces that shape our weather and climate?
  • Am I challenged by the idea of applying basic scientific principles to understand the behavior of the atmosphere?
  • Am I intrigued by the concept of using mathematics as a language to describe things that happen in the world around me?
  • Do I enjoy science and math courses?
  • Would I like to work with supercomputers, satellites, and other sophisticated research tools?
  • Am I open to change?

There are no right or wrong answers, but all of these questions are closely related to the nature of modern meteorology and the challenges of our changing atmosphere.

In the past, not many women or members of ethnic minority groups have gone into careers in meteorology or other branches of the physical sciences. Today, many rewarding career opportunities are open to anyone who has a good knowledge of meteorology and the ability to use it in atmospheric research or applied meteorology. In meteorology, as in many other professions, employers are actively recruiting women and minorities.