What classes to take to become a meteorologist?
Posted November 3, 2016
How to become a weather forecaster
Jenny asks: I am in high school and interested in becoming a meteorologist. But there isn't much information on it, college wise. I was wondering if meteorologists themselves would have any suggestions; what's the best college for atmospheric sciences/ meteorology? what classes should I be taking now? is there an alternate method to becoming a meteorologist other than majoring in meteorology? I would love to be a broadcaster, any suggestions? I love weather and I want to understand it further and further. Answers to these many questions would ease my wondering mind.
Mike Moss: Lots of good questions there. Here are a few pieces of information that may be helpful. Regarding your question about colleges, there are quite a few good meteorology schools across the country, and there are at least two organizations that maintain fairly complete web pages containing the names of colleges and universities with meteorology and atmospheric science programs. The lists provide information on degrees available, contact information, and links to the appropriate department web sites. They are at www.nssl.noaa.gov/faq/schools.html and www.nwas.org/links/universities.html. You can find lots of more detailed information by going to the web sites of the schools you're most interested in.
Regarding classes you should be taking now, the high school courses I usually recommend to students looking toward a meteorology degree are math (the most advanced available at your school), physics, chemistry, and computer science. To supplement these nicely, courses in geography and geology, along with writing and public speaking, are excellent selections. In most branches of science, there are numerous opportunities to write technical reports, manuals, and journal articles, and to present information to customers or at lectures, seminars, etc, hence the suggestions about writing and public speaking courses.
As for how to get into the field, usually you begin by attending a college that offers a degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, although sometimes people who have degrees in math, physics or engineering will attend a university to get a graduate degree in meteorology and will enter the field that way. Also, military weather forecasters in the Navy or Air Force can attend special training programs to learn their craft without obtaining a college degree, and there are also some broadcast meteorologists who have degrees in other subjects and supplement that with a broadcast meteorology correspondence program from Mississippi State University. After college or training, you simply look for and apply for available positions in the branch of meteorology that you feel most interested in or suited to.
In terms of becoming a broadcaster in particular, there are usually a number of jobs available around the country at any given time, but that requires you to be willing to relocate. Also, generally a broadcast meteorologist will start out at a "small market" station, and work upward from there to a level where he or she wishes to remain. It can help if you make a point in high school and college of putting yourself in front of groups or a camera and becoming comfortable with public speaking, and in college look into the possibility of interning with one or more stations.
Finally, here are some resources where you can pursue more in-depth information on meteorology as a career, along with tips on preparing for a career in the field:
Enjoy, and good luck!