Becoming a meteorologist requires extensive education and training, but it can lead to a rewarding career. Here is some information on the path to becoming a meteorologist.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step to becoming a meteorologist is earning a bachelor’s degree, which typically takes 4 years. Meteorology and atmospheric sciences are common majors for aspiring meteorologists. Coursework usually includes math, physics, chemistry, computer science, and of course extensive study of meteorology and climatology. Areas you may study include weather analysis, climatology, atmospheric physics, and air pollution. Completing an internship with a weather station or forecasting agency during your bachelor’s can provide relevant experience.

Consider a Master’s Degree

Many meteorologists choose to pursue a master’s degree in meteorology, which takes 1-2 years beyond a bachelor’s. A graduate degree shows deeper knowledge and research skills. Coursework goes further into atmospheric sciences, math, physics, computer modeling, and more.

A master’s opens up career opportunities including research, private forecasting, and higher level government jobs. It also prepares you for a PhD program if you want to teach or do research at universities. Many master’s programs offer teaching or research assistantships.

Earn a PhD

To work in university research and teaching, a PhD in meteorology or atmospheric sciences is required. It typically takes 5-6 years after a bachelor’s degree. Coursework is research intensive and focused on a specific field like climatology, atmospheric chemistry, or modeling. You must complete and defend a dissertation based on original research. PhD programs offer teaching and research assistantships.

Take Extra Courses

An elective course on the science of extreme weather can provide useful knowledge for meteorologists. This may be offered in undergraduate or graduate programs. The course covers how hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, heat waves, and other extremes form. You’ll learn about the ingredients that cause extreme weather and how advanced computer models are used to predict events. Forecasting, preparation, safety, and minimizing damage will be discussed. This knowledge helps meteorologists better understand and communicate about high-impact weather events.

Gain Experience

Gaining experience in weather prediction through internships, research projects, or cooperative programs helps develop skills for the job. Many schools assist students in arranging these programs with government agencies or private forecasting firms. The National Weather Serviceoffers job shadowing and paid internships. Broadcast meteorology students can seek internships at TV stations to gain reporting skills. Any exposure to real-world forecasting operations and technology is invaluable.

Get Certified

Voluntary certifications show competence and dedication. The American Meteorological Society offers a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist program. This requires meeting education and experience standards, passing exams, and continuing education. The National Weather Association issues Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and other certification seals. While optional, certification helps meteorologists stand out.

Becoming a meteorologist requires substantial education in atmospheric sciences, math, physics, and computer modeling. Gaining practical experience in the field also helps prepare you for a career predicting the weather and studying the atmosphere and climate. With hard work and dedication, an aspiring meteorologist can develop the skills to succeed in this essential science career.