Knowing what kind of weather to expect ahead of a flight is essential for a pilot – and most of the passengers want them to know, too. Meteorologist jobs are important for the safety of the nation’s aircraft and passengers, although they are often unseen.
Having reliable weather data of conditions ahead is a job that the weather professionals provide.
The development of better technology, computers, and radar systems, enables weather information to be transmitted to any airport instantly. The result is that there has been a reduction in the need for meteorologists. Now, with the available technology, Federal meteorologist jobs have been reduced and the FAA is seeking to reduce them even further. It may even be questionable as to whether or not there will be openings in the field when current students graduate.
The meteorologist is responsible to review the weather data and make reports to the pilot and to dispatchers that make the flight plans. In making their reports, they will often provide hourly observations and analyses, and based on that information will make forecasts and possible warnings if needed. They will also provide information about the weather that may be encountered at the time of takeoff, en route, or at the destination.
Did You Know? In order to do well in meteorology, you will need to know how to use math and computers.
Pilots and airlines depend on the accuracy of the meteorologist’s weather information, and need it to be as current as possible. Meteorologists are often employed with the National Weather Service. They analyze weather reports and transmit them to the airlines. Meteorologists are responsible for keeping abreast of changing weather patterns and their potential effect on flight schedules. They must be able to digest information quickly and communicate effectively to pilots and flight dispatchers. Meteorologists providing information for smaller airports will do nearly all of the above work, but the work may be divided for a larger airport.
Meteorologist jobs require that they be able to look at various forms of weather information for a location and be able to interpret it quickly. Reports need to be written quickly so that those who need the information can get it in time to make the decisions that affect the pilots and passengers. In some cases, he or she may actually meet with pilots or dispatchers to be able to provide current information.
While most of the information is transmitted through a computer or other machine, some of it may have to be obtained by physically going outside and reading the weather instruments. Some of the instruments will include a barometer, anemometers, thermometers, radiosondes, weather balloons, theodolites, ceilometers, and more. At some weather stations, a meteorologist may work alone. At larger stations, he or she may work with other meteorologists or with meteorologist technicians. Work weeks are typically 40 hours per week, but stormy weather can easily result in overtime.
Training & Degrees
A college degree in meteorology is usually required for this position. Although a degree in meteorology can be obtained from only a few universities, a major in the field is just as welcome, but certain courses are demanded. Courses that need to be included in the degree program are differential and integral calculus and six hours of college physics, along with specific courses in weather. You will also need to know how to use computers. Being a meteorologist in the military is a good way to get into the field, but upgrade courses will be needed from the National Weather Service – NWS (at the Technical Training Center in Kansas City). A criminal background investigation will be necessary if you are going to work for the NWS, as well as a drug test.
There are different types of meteorologists and they include operational meteorologists (the biggest group and the kind airports need), environmental meteorologists, and climatologists. Higher degrees are needed in these last two groups. There is an expected increase in the amount of commercial and cargo flights in the next few years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which may mean that there will be a need for more meteorologists, but it is not certain.
Salary & Benefits
Meteorologists make a wide range of income, but those who work for the government have made an average of $91,000 annually. The starting salary, however, was $37,000. Different types of meteorologists and different degrees will make a difference in salary, and the location will also help determine the amount.
Working for the government means a lot of great benefits, including job security. The meteorologist will receive on the job training for the first couple of years. Overtime pay. The NWS has many offices throughout the United States, and you may be able to pick your location after some time.
Quick Summary of Meteorologist Employment:
- Airports and pilots depend on accurate weather reports.
- About 40% of meteorologists work for the government.
- Average salary of a meteorologist – private and government – is about $77,000.
- The future demand of meteorologists is uncertain.