Meteorologists, also known as atmospheric scientists, study the Earth’s atmospheric make-up, motions, and activities in relation to how they affect the rest of the planet. Taking all of this information into consideration, meteorologists will try to predict weather patterns for a certain area. Certain meteorologists may also be charged with different tasks, like understanding weather trends, studying past weather, and analyzing current weather conditions as they happen. The actual day-to-day work of a meteorologist will vary depending on the type of atmospheric science, or meteorology, they practice. The most common are operational meteorologists, who specifically forecast the weather. A list of the following types of meteorology and atmospheric science is available on the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ (BLS)website.
This title is given to atmospheric scientists who forecast the weather. By taking and processing data from weather satellites, radars, and sensors at weather stations around the world, they try to create both long- and short-term local forecasts. Operational meteorologists must possess sound mathematical theory, have a good knowledge of Earth sciences, and also be well versed in using computers to create computer models of the Earth’s atmosphere to make their predictions.
Climatologists study the weather over very long periods of time. They do so by studying weather patterns over months, years, and even centuries. They collect and study past wind, rainfall, sunshine, and temperature patterns for a specific local area or region to determine future weather patterns. Studies completed by climatologists are vital for today’s lifestyles because they are used to design buildings and help businesses and farms make effective use of the land they inhabit.
These meteorologists focus on the science behind weather patterns. By looking at the chemical and physical properties of the atmosphere, physical meteorologists study the effects of light, sound, radio waves, and factors that cause cloud formations, rain, snow, and severe storms. With the recent green movements, the need and job scope of physical meteorologists has changed drastically. The green movement has created a niche for meteorologists who study the effects of pollution, such as water shortages, in a certain areas.
A spin-off of traditional physical meteorology, environmental meteorologists focus on the effects of pollutants on local, area, and global weather patterns. They specifically study and report air quality and overall environmental impact for the government, or private corporations who employ them. Most recently, the field has shifted its study to find ways to limit air pollution and its effects on the environment.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in Meteorology?
Earning a degree in meteorology, or any physical sciences degree with an emphasis in atmospheric sciences, can be the first step to a career as a meteorologist. While post-bachelor’s degrees are not required to enter the field, a master’s can be beneficiary in finding a job and may increase your chances of career advancement. Prospective students can find schools that offer meteorology degrees on the American Meteorological Society’s website.
Once working in the field, meteorologists can seek certification in the field through the AMS. The AMS also offers two types of certification, the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM), and the Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM). The Certified Broadcast Meteorologist program is designed to ensure that its meteorologists working in television broadcasting demonstrate a commitment to scientific knowledge and advancement. To become certified, you must hold a degree in atmospheric science, meteorology, or an equivalent from an accredited school, pass a written exam, and have your work reviewed to determine competence. The Certified Consulting Meteorologist Program is for meteorologists working outside of broadcasting, and ensures recipients have met certain levels of technical competence, character, and experience for those who provide meteorology information to the public or businesses.
Thanks in part to the number of news outlets and public research universities, urban areas provide the best areas to work for meteorologists. The greater Washington D.C., Chicago, and Boston areas have the highest concentration of jobs in the country as of 2010. Salaries in the Washington D.C. area average $93,990; salaries in the Chicago area average $85,590; and salaries in the Boston area average $81,190, according to the BLS. Among states with the largest amount of jobs in the country, Colorado, Texas, and California were the three highest. All offered average annual salaries of more than $98,000, according to the BLS. It is important to remember, however, that beginning salaries are often much lower than average. In addition, salaries can vary depending on your employer, experience, and location. Also, a bachelor’s degree in meteorology or atmospheric science will not guarantee employment since the career requires a high level of skill and dedication. Those hoping to enter the field should also remember that the job often requires relocation as well.
What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in Meteorology?
Like many colleges and universities that offer online programs, students will log into an online portal to access their online coursework. They will use the portal to find syllabi, professor contact information, assignments, and study material. Early coursework will include several courses in different types of science and math including, calculus, physics and chemistry. Depending on what you hope to do with your meteorology degree, you will want to take specialized courses that will help you find a job in the field. For example, those hoping to work as a broadcast meteorologist will need to take courses in communication, public speaking, TV production, and news writing.
Students interested in working in air quality control will want to take courses in policy and government in addition to classes in meteorology. For those hoping to pursue a degree in weather consulting, business, statistics, and economics classes are recommended. While most entry-level careers can be accessed with a bachelor’s degree, a second bachelor’s degree specific to the field you enter, or a master’s degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, can increase your chances of employment and advancement potential. Earning a doctorate in the field is typically only valuable for those hoping to teach post-secondary courses, or for a research position at a university.