If you’re interested in weather, you may want to consider having a career in meteorology. Meteorology is the study of the atmosphere, focusing on weather processes and forecasting. The first requirement is passion and enthusiasm. After that, it gets harder. When you want to look at how to become a meteorologist, there are a few things you need to decide right from the start to enable you to study the correct courses and so forth.
Types of Meteorologists
There are various types of meteorologists. The meteorologists who forecast the weather are known as operational meteorologists while climatologists look at seasonal changes over long periods of time. A synoptic meteorologist works on tools and software as well as mathematical models for weather forecasting purposes while a physical meteorologist researches the physical properties of the atmosphere and weather.
An environmental meteorologist focuses on environmental issues such as pollution that have an impact on the Earth’s atmosphere and may also influence weather conditions. Once you know what type of meteorologist you want to become, you can move on to the next step.
How to Become a Meteorologist
High School Studies
During the high school phase, you should take science and mathematics courses. If possible, try and take AP courses that can transfer into credits for college. Subjects such as physics, earth science, chemistry, and calculus will help towards this career.
It is also important that you focus on your English writing skills as well as your communication skills. This will help you with your research writing, presenting your papers or being able to communicate effectively should you become a radio or television meteorologist. It is also important that you spend time honing your computer skills as well as staying up to date on the latest technology in the field. If you can get hold of meteorological software to practice on, this will also help you with your career goals.
After high school, the next step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in science. The BA required is one in atmospheric sciences or meteorology. Classes will include physics, calculus, synoptics, dynamics, computer programming, and other science and mathematics classes. You can look at combining the meteorology degree with other sciences such as oceanography, chemistry, statistics, physics, and geology.
Computer science is another useful field of study for a career as a meteorologist. For those students who aim to do meteorology on air, classes in speech, journalism or media may also be a good option to include. Those who want to work for the government after graduation should check the specific course guidelines laid out before they decide on the classes to study.
Further Tertiary Education
For some meteorologists, it may be important to obtain a graduate degree. This will also be important for fields in which you hope to advance at a later stage. For those students who wish to eventually work in research, you will need to obtain a Ph.D. You can look at doing a dual master’s degree in various related sciences and include mathematics or computer science as well. There are many different graduate programs for meteorology and it is important to look at the aspects you wish to pursue in your career goals before deciding on the programs that best suit your agenda.
Obtain Your Certification
The American Meteorological Society does specialized programs related to different fields of meteorology such as consulting and broadcasting. These certificates require you to have a bachelor’s degree and you would need to pass an examination as well as submit samples of your work to be accepted into the programs. These certificates can be added to your credentials when applying for positions.
Get Work Experience
If possible, try and get an internship while you are studying, whether at high school or during your tertiary education. Working as an intern affords you valuable insights as well as allowing you to indicate some experience on your CV when looking for employment.
Career Training on Site
Certain organizations will require you to undergo specific training before taking up a position. The National Weather Service, for example, requires 200 hours of on-the-job training per annum for the first two years. The government also requires completion of your degree as per their specifications and thereafter to work as an intern in various positions to learn all the aspects required. Thereafter you would be assigned to a duty station once your internship has been completed. Other organizations will have their own requirements and you should make a point of finding out what these are before taking up a position.
So now you know how to become a meteorologist based on the studies required, but there is more to it than that. This is not an easy career and will require hard work, excellent communication skills, and even having to work in harsh environments and adverse weather conditions. Meteorologists working for broadcasters may find themselves reporting on blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes and other hazardous weather phenomena, and this can be quite dangerous as well. You need to ensure that you are flexible and willing to work long hours if you plan to follow a rewarding career in the field of meteorology.