If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time watching the weather. It’s been a passion of mine since elementary school. 25 years ago, I took my weather hobby to the next level to make a career out of it. Maybe you’ll want to do it too!
The first step is to go to meteorology school. Texas A&M is a good one! Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon, one of my professors at the time, explains the opportunities there: (Figure 1)
“We offer a bachelor’s degree in meteorology, a master’s and a doctorate in atmospheric science and we also offer courses in the college’s environmental programs which are interdisciplinary degrees in environmental studies and environmental geosciences.” (Texas A&M School of Meteorology Information)
If you’re currently in high school and considering meteorology… you’ll need a lot of math:
“The most important thing for them to prepare for if the school offers it is math, because meteorology is advanced physics in the sense that you deal with how objects move and meteorology, we let’s deal with how the atmosphere moves, so there’s a lot of physics, thermodynamics and chemistry and math, especially calculus, is the language of that.”
And a meteorology degree from Texas A&M offers plenty of career opportunities. Here are a few you might consider:
First, TV… It was a second career for me. I was a mechanical engineer for a while, but couldn’t get rid of the weather. Since… I’ve been broadcasting for 24 years… almost 18 years at KTBS. (Joe Haynes)
“So we’re just supervising not only shift operations making sure our products come out in a timely manner, supervising warning operations, making sure we have proper warnings for storms and certain events as well.
In addition to his management duties, Jason helps forecast the weather:
“We share the responsibility of issuing a multitude of forecasts… public forecasts, aviation, fire weather… occasionally hydrological forecasts.”
Placement in the weather service is competitive. Jason recommends volunteering at school:
“Not only do you get the experience, but you also get to know some people who might possibly have a say in it for you.”
In addition, shift work is required:
“Weather is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year operation. Be prepared to work very odd shifts. Be prepared to work holidays.”
Private industry also hires meteorologists. Longtime friend Rebecca Miller, who got me into TV, now works at Southwest Airlines as an aviation weather forecaster: (Figure 3)
“So what we do as meteorologists for the Southwest is we’re responsible for forecasting the weather for every place we fly in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. “
Rebecca recommends doing an internship while she’s still in school to help land a job after graduation:
“It doesn’t matter what you get into, but especially in aviation. You want to do an internship while you’re still in college with these companies because firstly it gives you an idea of what this job entails and secondly , it gives the company an idea of what kind of worker you are.”
And there is the army. Just down the street, Barksdale Air Force Base is home to the 26th Operational Weather Squadron. First Lieutenant and Meteorologist, James Schackelton works as a Senior Duty Officer: (Figure 4)
“Basically, we command the weather for the entire southeast region of the United States, from Texas to the East Coast… approximately 134 Department of Defense facilities and protect over $200 billion in assets .”
Here are some of the job requirements:
“To be an officer in the field of meteorology, you must have a degree in meteorology.”
“There is also the OTS Officer Training School which caters to candidates who already have a degree and are looking to enter the Air Force with no previous experience.”
Once you choose your career path after graduation, can you afford more than Ramen noodles? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary is over $90,000 and 12% job growth is expected over the next 8 years, led by the private sector.
Also get more information on careers in meteorology from the American Meteorological Society.