A weather forecaster studies changes and developments in the Earth’s atmosphere to predict the weather as well as climate trends.
Weather forecasters compile and analyze data from advanced technological equipment to study and develop plans to combat air pollution, climate change, droughts, ozone depletion, and other detrimental effects of the weather on the planet. They also deliver weather forecasts concerning inclement weather from thunderstorms and tornadoes to flash flood and dangerous wind warnings to the public.
The term “weather forecaster” generally means an atmospheric scientist or meteorologist who delivers such predictions and information on television, radio, or through another medium. Weather forecasters may also work in weather stations or with government or private agencies.
For entry-level positions in weather forecasting, a bachelor’s degree in meteorology or atmospheric science is required. A master’s degree may also be required, and for research positions, a candidate should have a doctorate degree as well.
Common coursework in a meteorology or atmospheric science program includes oceanography, climatology, hydrology, aeronomy, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, statistics, chemistry, and computer science.
For those hoping to pursue a career as a weather forecaster on television, additional coursework in broadcast journalism and related subjects may be helpful.
Aspiring weather forecasters should have an aptitude for math and science as well as a high comfort level with computers and computer models.
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) offers certification as a Certified Consulting Meteorologist.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wages of atmospheric scientists in May 2008 were $81,290 with the middle 50 percent earning between $55,140 and $101,340.
The federal government is the largest employer of atmospheric scientists; the average salary for meteorologists employed by the federal government in May 2009 was $93,661.
The U.S. Department of Labor states expects employment of meteorologists to grow much faster than the average for all occupations; those with graduate degrees will be especially prized by employers, but competition is expected to be tough.