Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists, hold about 10,000 jobs. The largest employer of meteorologists is the federal government, accounting for about 31 percent of all atmospheric scientists' employment. Most civilian meteorologists work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service stations across the country. The NOAA also operates a dozen environmental research laboratories, including the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (which houses the Hurricane Research Division) and the Earth System Research Laboratory. Atmospheric scientists are also employed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation. The remainder of the meteorologists work mainly in research and development or management. Additionally, several hundred civilian meteorologists work at the Department of Defense. Many opportunities are also available in the armed forces (such as in the Office of Naval Research Marine Meteorology Division) and in educational settings. There are hundreds of meteorologists teaching at institutions of higher education.
Other meteorologists work for private weather consulting firms, engineering service firms, commercial airlines, radio and television stations, computer and data processing services, and companies that design and manufacture meteorological instruments and aircraft and missiles.
You can enter the field of meteorology in a number of ways. For example, new graduates may find positions through career services offices at the colleges and universities where they have studied. National Weather Service volunteers may receive permanent positions as meteorologists upon completing their formal training. Members of the armed forces who have done work in meteorology often assume positions in meteorology when they return to civilian life. In fact, the armed forces give preference in the employment of civilian meteorologists to former military personnel with appropriate experience. Individuals interested in teaching and research careers generally assume these positions upon receiving their doctorates in meteorology or related subjects.
Other federal employers of meteorologists include the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Agriculture.
Meteorologists employed by the National Weather Service advance according to civil service regulations. After meeting certain experience and education requirements, they advance to classifications that carry more pay and, often, more responsibility. Opportunities available to meteorologists employed by airlines are more limited. A few of these workers, however, do advance to such positions as flight dispatcher and to administrative and supervisory positions. A few meteorologists go into business for themselves by establishing their own weather consulting services. Meteorologists who are employed in teaching and research in colleges and universities advance through academic promotions or by assuming administrative positions in the university setting.
To learn more about the field, read
Visit the career resources section of the American Meteorological Society's Web site for job listings: https://www.ametsoc.org/index.cfm/ams/education-careers/careers/career-resources.
Visit the National Weather Service's Web site at https://www.weather.gov to learn more about career opportunities.
Ask your career services office for help with setting up an informational interview with a meteorologist to find out more about this profession.