How to become a meteorologist (Skills and responsibilities)
Updated 14 March 2023
Meteorology is a career path that many science-minded individuals aspire towards. This field is competitive and can require long hours of hard work to succeed. Understanding the skills and responsibilities relevant to being a meteorologist can be helpful when deciding if it's a suitable career choice for you. In this article, we discuss what a meteorologist is, what duties the role includes and how to become a meteorologist.
How to become a meteorologist
Here are the steps you can follow if you're wondering how to become a meteorologist:
1. Decide which area of meteorology you'd like to work in
It's helpful to start your journey knowing what type of meteorologist you'd like to become. Predicting the weather only accounts for a small section of the meteorology field and you may not do this at all if your work is primarily laboratory-based. If you're more interested in the media aspect of meteorology, you may wish to consider undertaking a journalism or communications degree. Meteorologists are scientists who undergo rigorous education, training and examinations.
If you wish to follow this scientific path, it can be important to understand that your work may involve more complex topics, like chemistry, physics, statistics or mathematics. Different specialisations require different levels of education and expertise. It's a good idea to identify the career path you'd like to follow so you can pursue the most suitable aspects of meteorology for you.
2. Obtain a degree in science or meteorology
To become a meteorologist requires technical knowledge and a high level of skill in scientific practices. You can improve your expertise in physics, mathematics and chemistry by completing a science degree. Most individuals can start their education by completing a Bachelor of Science in meteorology or atmospheric science. You can also choose to complete a general science degree followed by a master's in meteorology in the future.
3. Develop technology skills
Meteorologists frequently work with technology and require the skills necessary to operate it effectively. Your work in the meteorology field may involve scientific analysis using complex software or equipment. You may also use scientific devices and equipment to conduct measurements and analyse the weather. Depending on the field you choose to pursue, you may even operate broadcasting equipment.
4. Gain relevant experience
In order to become a meteorologist, it's important to gain relevant experience in any of the specialisations you may have chosen. There may be internships or apprenticeships available where you can gain on-the-job skills. An aspiring meteorologist could also choose to shadow a qualified scientist to determine the skills and qualities necessary for success. Volunteering or interning with a scientific climate organisation can also boost your CV when applying for employment at universities or organisations.
5. Update your CV and apply to openings
The final step in the process of becoming a meteorologist requires crafting your CV and looking for job openings in your preferred field. Ensure your CV is up to date to give yourself a higher chance of success on your applications. Include all of your relevant education, qualifications, skills and experience to help you find a meteorology role that suits your background and interests.
What does a meteorologist do?
A meteorologist has a wide range of scientific skills and knowledge from studying the atmosphere and weather conditions. They can make distinctions between weather events and patterns. The role also includes analysing when these patterns may impact the public, making announcements to protect public safety and notifying specific communities about inclement weather that may impact their well-being. Meteorologists can work in research or the public eye, which can involve providing updates on news programmes, giving radio reports or filming on location to inform people about weather events and conditions.
Meteorologists are scientists with a range of technical skills and an education in science and mathematics. This allows them to understand how to forecast and predict patterns in weather and changes in the atmosphere. They may predict these events in a specific location or assess changes in the atmosphere as a whole. If you're wondering how to become a meteorologist or a similar job, you could work in environmental science, which involves duties like conducting research and studying the effects of pollution on the planet.
Skills required to become a meteorologist
Meteorologists benefit from a range of hard and soft skills to complete their work in a professional and competent manner. Meteorologists have a logical and scientific mindset and may also have skills in communication and personal relations, which are helpful when working in the media. Here are some skills you may wish to develop to become a successful meteorologist:
The role of a meteorologist involves forming hypotheses and testing them. This requires a logical mindset and the ability to analyse results. You may write reports or articles on the results of experiments and how these affect the planet as a whole. As a meteorologist, it's important that you're able to assess and measure data that relates to the climate and the weather to perform your role effectively.
Attention to detail
In order to become a meteorologist, you will need to be able to handle large amounts of data simultaneously. To provide accurate results and predictions, it's important that you can comprehend this data quickly and efficiently, without missing any details. Your role may require you to deliver results or predictions to government bodies, organisations and agencies. Attention to detail is crucial when giving these reports because it allows organisations to react and respond appropriately.
Meteorologists deliver predictions to a broad range of people. You may find yourself involved in many aspects of science that can apply in a variety of industries. This means your skills in professional and effective communication are important, as you're likely to liaise with a range of professionals. You may also be a part of media campaigns or projects, so knowing how to communicate effectively with the public is crucial. This includes simplifying complex topics into terms that the public can understand.
Meteorologists work with a large range of technical equipment in laboratories or research facilities. Much of this equipment requires technical knowledge to operate. You may work in a small team of two to three people, so knowing how to operate these machines and equipment efficiently and how to fix them if they malfunction is essential.
Meteorology can involve teamwork, especially when working on difficult predictions as it helps ensure accuracy. Much of the measurement and reporting in atmospheric science may also have peer review requirements. This means that as a meteorologist, you'd require the ability to work with colleagues in reviewing and assessing the quality of each other's work. Your role is likely to involve providing feedback and collaboration within your team.
Where can meteorologists work?
Meteorologists have a broad range of skills that may apply to many agencies and organisations. Typically, they're involved in governmental meteorological organisations that work in a particular area to determine how weather patterns and changes may impact citizens. They can also work in a broader context in international governmental organisations, like the European Union. Becoming a meteorologist may require the analysis of atmospheric patterns that may impact climate change. Some of the typical settings meteorologists might work in include:
broadcasting networks, like radio or television
private businesses that require scientific atmospheric research
legal offices that require scientific input
Different types of meteorologists
Meteorologists can also specialise further and undergo training in specific meteorological divisions. The type of specialisation you choose may relate to your personal interests and aptitudes. Some common specialisations that meteorologists can pursue include:
Operational meteorologist: This is a scientist who predicts and forecasts the weather based on patterns and results.
Broadcast meteorologist: This is a TV or radio broadcasting professional who may appear in the media and forecast the weather. These individuals are not always necessarily scientists and are likely to be broadcast journalists.
Physical meteorologist: Physical meteorologists are researchers who perform various physical analyses of data and conduct experiments on atmospheric conditions and changes.
Climatologist: This is a scientist who studies the patterns that impact seasonal climate changes and predicts what this might mean for the planet.
Environmental meteorologist: These scientists may study the effects of pollution and how it's changing the weather and climate.
Explore more articles
- What is a job analysis? (With definition and example)
- How to be an actor in 4 steps (Plus salary and finding work)
- What is the recruiter process? (With types and tips)
- What Does a Technical Writer Do? Including Salary and Role
- What does a curator do? (Including skills and salary)
- What does a game designer do? (Role and responsibilities)
- What does an accounting manager do (roles and salary)?
- What are data analyst skills? (Definition and examples)
- What does a customs officer do? Salary and education
- How to become a biochemist in 4 steps (Plus salary)
- What is an optician vs an optometrist? (With skills)
- What does a quality control analyst do? (With requirements)