How do I become a meteorologist?

Dateline article| David Murphy|

by David Murphy

The answer depends on the branch of meteorology you're looking at.

Anyone who wants to work for the National Weather Service or AccuWeather must earn a four-year science degree in meteorology. The same is true of people who want to do meteorological research on topics like climate change or weather models. Some in the above categories also have graduate degrees, which can affect the starting salary slightly. To teach meteorology at the college level, a graduate degree (and probably a ph.D.) will also be needed. However, many operational meteorologists working in the field do not have anything beyond a bachelor's degree.

For those interested in presenting the weather on-air, a science degree is acceptable, although it's important to attend a school that also has a radio station, television studio and communications courses to help familiarize the student with the audio and visual presentation of a weathercast. On-air weathercasters can also have a four-year degree in communications or journalism, complimented by a college certificate in broadcast meteorology. As of 2005, the American Meteorology Society (AMS), a dominant industry organization, has begun tightening the rules as to who can earn AMS accreditation as a meteorologist in an effort to place more science degree holders in on-air positions. It's unclear how many television and radio stations will prefer this sort of technical training over a more traditional journalism/communications background when it comes to future hires.

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