You've always been intrigued by constantly changing weather phenomena. For years, you've followed heat waves, massive snowstorms and hurricanes as they marched across the landscape. With sophisticated equipment and computer models, weather analysts can better predict these high-profile events and common seasonal weather systems than they could years ago. You'd like to delve deeply into this inexact science, so you can examine varied weather-related careers before choosing the best fit for your skills and interests.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, employs a powerhouse of meteorologists, or trained weather forecasters. NOAA's National Weather Service meteorologists work in more than 100 field offices across the country, preparing daily forecasts and severe weather alerts for the public and regional emergency managers. If you're an aspiring storm chaser, you might gravitate to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, which aggressively tracks conditions that spawn severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The National Hurricane Center studies past hurricane trends, monitors sea conditions that could generate hurricanes, and issues regular forecasts on hurricanes and tropical storms. You'll even find an agency that tracks heavy rain in different geographical regions. In short, NOAA provides a veritable buffet of jobs for weather aficionados.
You'll admit a weather forecasting career holds a certain “roll the dice” appeal for you. Instead of predicting daily and weekly weather events, however, you'd rather focus on big-picture, long-term climate trends. A climatologist career provides opportunities to analyze past weather patterns, such as an agricultural region's rainfall trends for the past 50 years. You'll use that data to predict the area's flooding or long-term drought potential. This helps farmers and agricultural businesses formulate irrigation and crop production strategies. You might also supply long-term temperature forecasts to regional planners, helping them to determine the economic effects of potential climate changes. It may sound like work for a crystal-ball gazer, but you will use scientific databases and state-of-the-art equipment to offer advice on changing climates.
Military Weather Officer
If you're jazzed by the idea that you can help to keep military aircraft safe through weather forecasts, consider a career as a military weather officer. Brush up on your multi-tasking skills, though, as you'll generate multiple daily forecasts based on current and projected weather and atmospheric conditions around the world. To obtain your supporting data, you'll conduct and supervise meteorological research projects. Keep in mind that weather conditions can change with little notice, meaning you'll have to issue updated forecasts so military air traffic controllers can reroute planes as necessary.
Weather Technology Professionals
Perhaps you're most intrigued by the increasingly sophisticated equipment that fuels advances in weather technology. In that case, you might check out the high-tech firms that design and fabricate the weather satellites that circle the Earth, providing a constant stream of data to weather analysts. Companies also manufacture the weather radars that illustrate weather systems' movement on an almost real-time basis. If you're a software buff, remember that these complex weather instruments require equally precise software documentation and easily understood user instructions.
- University of Wisconsin Milwaukee: Career Opportunities in Meteorology
- United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists
- United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.: Career Opportunities: Weather Officer
- American Meteorological Society: Career Center: All About Careers in the Atmospheric and Related Sciences
Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.