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.

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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.

Related: What is a career adviser? (With skills and responsibilities)

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.

Related: What is an MSc? (Including definition and examples)

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.

Related: What is an internship? (With process, benefits and FAQs)

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.

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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.

Related: What is research methodology? (With definitions and methods)

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:

Analytical thinking

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.

Related: What are analytical skills? And tips for developing them

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.

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Communication skills

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.

Related: Communications skills you need to succeed

Technical skills

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.

Related: What are technical skills? A Definition, examples and CV

Teamwork skills

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.

Related: What are teamwork skills and how can you improve them?

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:

  • non-governmental agencies

  • governmental agencies

  • broadcasting networks, like radio or television

  • private businesses that require scientific atmospheric research

  • legal offices that require scientific input

Related: What does a data scientist do? (Plus salary and skills)

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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.

Related: What does an environmental scientist do? (Skills and tasks)

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