|METEOROLOGY: EDUCATION, JOBS, CAREERS
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
Many of the questions I get through the website deal with meteorology jobs, advancement in the
field of meteorology and advice for education. In this essay I will cover many of the different situations I
have been asked about as they relate to these issues.
If you are a student that has not finished high school and are interesting in a career in the meteorology then
it is important to take as many math courses as you can, physics, chemistry, and computer science. Most
students, that want to go into meteorology, that end up not going into meteorology is the result from being
weak in math. A great math education is very critical.
If you are a student that will be finishing high school or a person of military age and you can
not get into a meteorology program in
college or are not able to go to college yet, but you still want to go into meteorology, then a top
option is to go into the Air Force. In the Air Force you can get meteorology training and get hands-on
experience in weather observing and forecasting. The Air Force experience and benefits will allow you
to continue your education in a meteorology college program while in the Air Force or once your
Air Force career ends.
Most students become meteorologist by going through a college meteorology program. A meteorology
or atmospheric science degree will usually be calculus based thus the importance of having a solid
math background. The link below has a list with links to many of the meteorology programs that
are in the United States. When in college it is important to get an internship such as at a TV station,
meteorology employer, or National Weather Service. This makes it much easier to get a full-time meteorology job once
Many of the questions I get through the website are from those that are already in the field of
meteorology but want to advance. These questions most commonly come from those in the military or
in broadcast meteorology. Since the military and broadcast meteorology do not require a calculus
based meteorology degree, those in the military and broadcast meteorology often need further education
to advance within the military, broadcast meteorology, or to move on to jobs that do require the
calculus based meteorology education.
Suppose you are working in the field of meteorology in the military or broadcast meteorology and want the
calculus based meteorology education. You probably want this in order to get the AMS CBM, a higher
paying job, or to move into a different field of meteorology that requires this level of education. One option is
to get a meteorology degree. For many this is not an option since it would mean leaving a job.
Mississippi State University has a distance learning broadcast and operational meteorology program that
hundreds of students have completed. Since the MSU distance learning program is not calculus based, I often
get questions from current and former students that have completed this program
about how they can get employment with the
NWS or get the AMS CBM. The AMS CBM is a certification in broadcast meteorology offered by the
American Meteorology Society that requires completion of calculus based meteorology education.
In addition to an on-campus meteorology degree program, Mississippi State University offers a
17 course online program that leads to a certificate in
broadcast meteorology (BMP)
or operational meteorology (OMP).
These courses include Intro. to Meteorology, Physical Geography, World Geography,
Climatology, Natural Hazards, Stats, Synoptic Meteorology, Applied Climatology, Satellite Meteorology,
Radar Meteorology, Water Resources, Physical Meteorology, Thermodynamic Meteorology, Weather Prediction 1,
Weather Prediction 2, Oceanography, and Severe Weather. This online program is a certificate program that can
lead to a degree in Geoscience by adding the other university requirements to the program. Think of these
17 courses as the courses in a "major". The link below has all the courses needed to complete the
MSU Geosciences degree. For students that already have a college degree or college credits from
another school, those credits that are the same as MSU can be transferred.
Now suppose a MSU student that has completed the BMP or OMP and has also obtained the Geoscience
degree wants to become eligible for federal meteorology employment such as the National Weather Service
or wants to apply for the
AMS CBM. This will require taking more courses. Mississippi State Geoscience graduates can become
eligible for federal employment by integrating into and/or supplementing the MSU Geoscience degree
requirements with differential calculus, integral calculus, differential equations, 2 calculus based
physics courses and 2 courses in atmospheric dynamics. The two dynamics courses and calculus courses are
available by distance learning through the USDA:
Another option is to enroll in a meteorology graduate school. This will usually require the calculus and
physics courses above to even be eligible for enrollment. A benefit of a graduate degree is that it will make
you eligible to teach at a college or university. For example, a broadcast meteorologist with a Masters
degree can supplement their income by teaching college courses.
A common question I get is which people working in the field of meteorology are classified as meteorologists and
which are not. The clear cut case is a person with a calculus based meteorology degree. That person is
a meteorologist from day one of working in the field of meteorology. The other clear cut case is those
without completion of a meteorology education from an accredited college meteorology program or without military
meteorology training. The gray area that has been around for decades are those working in broadcast
meteorology and those that worked as military meteorologists but are now no longer in the military. For
weather broadcasters to be classified as a meteorology, a common standard is to either
have the calculus based meteorology degree or to
have completed a non-calculus meteorology program, have a SEAL of approval (AMS or NWA) and have
3 years full-time working experience (or equivalent) working in a weather job that requires that you make your
own forecasts. There are many broadcast meteorologists that have completed the MSU BMP that are in this later
situation. Even though a weather broadcaster can have a meteorologist title, they will still not be
able to work as a federal meteorologist without the calculus courses and other courses given a couple of
paragraphs above. Those coming out of the military are also in a gray area. They may have significant
weather analysis and forecasting experience but may not have the calculus based meteorology education. Many
consulting meteorology companies (private sector meteorology employers) will hire these
forecasters due to their experience. Most federal
meteorology positions will not be unavailable though to those coming out of the military
without the calculus based meteorology education unless the government has some sort of experience
equivalent for the specific meteorology position.
Another question I get is how to improve meteorology and weather forecasting education without going
back to school. Below are some resources I recommend:
1. Read books at the following link:
2. Have observation sessions with a meteorologist while they are at work, such as getting an Internship. Learn
about the tools they use to make weather forecasts.
3. Learn to interpret and forecast using the forecast models and MOS. See the following links:
4. Become a weather observer and have all the equipment to observe the weather such as high/low temperature,
air pressure, precipitation measurement and weather (cloud types, precipitation characteristics, etc.). Keep
a weather journal.
5. Read all the data supplied by the National Weather Service each day, especially the Area Forecast
Discussion. Look over weather data supplied over the Internet such as at the following link: