What Is a Hydrometeorological Technician?

Hydrometeorological technicians conduct atmospheric research to provide weather forecasters with accurate information.
i George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Besides being a mouthful to say, a hydrometeorological technician is a job with a full plate of varied responsibilities. In this job, you might be known as a weather forecaster, meteorologist, science and operations officer or atmospheric scientist. Under any name, your job is centered on the weather and atmospheric conditions.

The Job

    Working as a hydrometeorological technician, you’ll spend a lot of time investigating atmospheric phenomena and interpreting meteorological data collected from surface and air stations, radar and satellites. You’ll create written and verbal reports on your findings for public and other use. You’ll work mostly at weather stations, offices or labs. In weather emergencies, you might have to work longer than normal hours. To be hired as a hydrometeorological technician, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science or a related field. If you intend to do research, you’re going to need a master’s degree or a Ph.D.

Primary Responsibilities

    Your chief duties in this job will be to develop and use computer models and your knowledge of climate theory, physics and mathematics to predict long- and short-term weather conditions. You’ll use TV, radio and the Internet to advise the news media about severe weather warnings for the public. You’ll research atmospheric weather conditions using maps, data, charts and photographs. Your meteorological background will be applied to seek solutions to problems involving agriculture, pollution control, water management, global warming and ozone depletion.

Secondary Responsibilities

    In addition to your primary responsibilities as a hydrometeorological technician, you’ll also have opportunities to make scientific presentations, write and publish reports and articles, and consult with other researchers and agencies about how to make use of climatological information. Depending on your education and interests, you might teach at colleges or universities, design new equipment or devise better methods of data collection. Chances are you won’t be stuck indoors all the time, either. You'll occasionally get the chance to do fieldwork to examine weather conditions first-hand.

Compensation and Outlook

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups hydrometeorological technicians under the job category of atmospheric scientists. As of May 2010, the average annual salary for these professionals was $87,780, which is well above the average for all life, physical and social science occupations. Employment in the field is expected to increase 11 percent from 2010 through 2020, which is slightly below the 14 percent projected growth rate for all occupations. The best job opportunities will be in private industry, while the most competition will be for research positions at colleges and universities as well as positions with the federal government.

the nest