by David Murphy
A meteorologist studies either short-term or long-term weather patterns and sometimes reports the forecast to the general public.
Meteorologists can specialize in many different areas. Some are broadcast meteorologists who develop and present television and radio forecasts. Operational meteorologists make up the balance and have many different specialties. Some focus on forecasting day-to-day weather patterns off-the-air for organizations like the National Weather Service and AccuWeather. Others work exclusively on tropical weather, including hurricanes. Some work mainly with radar or satellites. Others study the ocean and its effect on weather patterns, or they study the earth's climate (the long-term weather trends and patterns spanning the globe over many centuries). Research meteorologists try to predict future climate change, or help develop and upgrade the weather models that forecasters use to construct their public weathercasts.
An operational meteorologist has a four-year science degree in meteorology. A broadcast meteorologist may have either the four-year science degree, or a degree in Communications or some other field, complimented by a 2.5 year college certificate. In both cases, the meteorologist is trained to interpret weather models, satellite and radar images, as well as soundings of the atmosphere and has the ability to construct a forecast. Only an operational meteorologist is qualified to do research, construct weather models, or to work outside of broadcasting in off-air forecast work.