What's it like to be a meteorologist really?
Topic: Being a researcher
May 23, 2019 / By Ferd Question:
I've wanted to be a meteorologist for as long as I can remember, and I'm just wondering what it's really like. I love weather and am totally fascinated by it. I'm a junior in high school and hope to major in meteorology.
So? What's it like?
Thanks so much! I'm just curious! :)
Best Answers: What's it like to be a meteorologist really?
Dacey | 2 days ago
It is a fun, sometimes exciting, sometimes boring, field to be in, especially if one is in the forecasting side of it. It's rarely the same thing every day. You could be a broadcast meteorologist or a researcher as well. Sometimes it involves working odd hours as weather goes on day and night, every day of the year. If you want to major in meteorology, do well in math and physics as coursework in meteorology is very intense in those courses. Take as many of those kinds of courses in school as you can so you will be best prepared for the college level courses.
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Originally Answered: Meteorologist help please?
I have worked for the National Weather Service for almost 20 years now and shift work is one of the hardest parts of getting use to the job. My father was a fireman when I was a kid, so I grew up with the idea of a non-tradidtional work week. he then became a school teacher and we had the summers off together! Someone has to work Christmas, though and depending on the office, you will probably have to work one every few years (unless someone in the office prefers to work them and volunteers to cover your shift). It can be difficult to have outside interests and scheduled activities since you are seldomly not available to make commitments (I'd like to teach Sunday School at church, but I work one Sunday a month).
The hardest part of shift work is the continual changing of the biological clock, ie. working days one week, midnights the next, and then evenings the next week. There are proven health risks associated with this pattern of work that are not fully compensated for with the extra 10% pay for overnight shift hours (Sundays are 25% bonus pay). Some agencies have a 20 year retirement plan (like cops and air traffic controllers), but Weather Service employees do not have that yet (it'll be hard to get, but there is always a chance :} ). Thirty years of rotating through all those time periods are hard on the body.
Pay is OK, especially if you can land a Lead Forecaster job, but you may have to go to a far-off small town to get one. The more populated centers have only a few openings, so don't plan on living near your parents after landing the job. Most non-forecasting jobs are located in Silver Spring, Maryland and the regional centers are on Long Island (NY), Salt Lake City, Fort Worth, Kansas City, and Anchorage, AK.
Divorce rate is higher than normal for Weather Service employees (but not grossly higher) and many of the employees are single (either do to personality or the problems of dating on a non-traditional work schedule). Most of the workforce is male (many older employees had military backgrounds, especially from the Vietnam War, so they are mostly men), but this is slowly changing. With the college rate of over 55% female, the demographic is bound to shift with time. The biggest problem with maintaining women in the main forecaster role is shift work and the starting of families. There is no guarantee of being shifted to a non-rotational shift job when you have a child and trying to keep a child on a "schedule" when you do not have one yourself can be very difficult. It has been done, but it is very hard to pull off.
One last note, the private sector is usually worse (you have civil servant protections in the Weather Service) though the initial pay can be slightly better. The problem is the lack of job promotion potential. Many private sector employees join the weather service if given the opportunity. They do provide a valuable service, but I have not gotten a lot of good feedback from the employees I have met. Some even require you to sign contacts for multiple years that are hard to break if you find something better. Be careful about that if you go the private route. TV is a very tough business to crack as well. I saw an entire newsroom get fired one by one because a new owner took over and wanted to cut salary expenditures (while I was an unpaid intern during college).
Hope I have not scared you off, it is a rewarding/frustrating/exciting at times career, but better to know what you are getting into before spending a lot of money and time to get something you decide is just not for you and you have to try something else in a related field (applied physics pays much better and requires a lot of the same coursework!).
Being a meteorologist is pretty much amazing. It definitely isn't an easy field (like cyswxman said, it involves a lot of math and physics), but learning about all of the different aspects of meteorology and why the atmosphere behaves like it does can be absolutely fascinating. It's also extremely rewarding when research results and/or forecasts verify! The most amazing thing by far, though, has been learning certain concepts in the classroom, then applying them to what's going on outside -- especially when dealing with severe weather. There are so many different branches and things to study (i.e. severe storms, winter weather, climate, clouds, aerosols, etc.) that there seems to be something almost everyone can find interest in, whether they want to do research, forecasting, or broadcast meteorology. There's always something new to learn, and never a dull moment!
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I've been a meteorologist for forty years and never tire of it. Even though I'm retired now, I keep up with what is going on and do casual work in meteorology when they are short staffed. It is a satisfying career and one in which you can never know everything so you are always learning. There is so much research going on, there are always new things being discovered.
Getting down to basics, as the others have said, you must have maths and physics. There is no way out. You must do a lot more maths and physics at university so you have to have them at the highest level from school. If that is a problem then meteorology is not the career for you.
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I'm not a meteorologist, but I do have a HUGE fascination in it!! I'm actually taking college classes now, to hopefully be able to be a professional tornado chaser. But i wanted to say thanks for posting this question, it's nice to know there are a lot of teenagers like me who enjoy meteorology like me.
👍 68 | 👎 -4
It is not an easy job, but it is a job that I really enjoy. Everyday, you are given a puzzle with lots of clues. The challenge to trying to predict what will happen. So if you like solving puzzles, this may be a career for you. However, it is a difficult career to get into because there a strong requirements that you need to know a lot of math and science. And there are more people who what to get in than there are positions available.
I enjoy it so much that I would do it for free, but don't let my employer know about this.
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Originally Answered: I really want to be a meteorologist.?
Think about what you might want to do in the field of meteorology b/c each requires different skills.
Meteorology is a hard science so you'll need to have good math abilities.
...broadcast meteorology...being on TV.
...operation weather forecasting...working for the National Weather Service or a private weather service provider
...air quality meteorology
...wind power meteorology
...energy markets meteorology
...operational aviation forecaster
...fire weather meteorologist
...meteorological software developer