"Weatherman" is a colloquial term for a weather forecaster, which is a specialized type of meteorologist or atmospheric scientist. Weathermen -- and weather women -- are typically employed by radio stations and television stations, and their job is to analyze atmospheric data to make forecasts regarding the weather in the broadcast area. Weathermen do not have to be licensed to forecast weather in the U.S., but employers typically hire candidates with an academic background in atmospheric science.
Although some weathermen might not have an academic background in atmospheric science, the majority of media weather forecasters entering the field have earned a degree in atmospheric science, meteorology or a related field. An atmospheric science program includes courses in math, chemistry, physics, meteorology and atmospheric science. Students who are interested in a career in broadcast meteorology typically also take courses in speech and journalism.
Meteorologists spend a lot of time working with software. Modern weather forecasting is largely about creating software models that mimic real weather patterns, thus giving weathermen powerful predictive tools to make their forecasts. Top meteorologists develop their own models for weather prediction, and are constantly tweaking them by adding new variables or more or better data.
Public Speaking Skills
Weathermen obviously have to put in the air time delivering their forecasts through broadcast media, so they are journalists as well as meteorologists. This not only means being comfortable in front of the camera in a studio, but also good public speaking skills, because weathermen are often expected to visit schools and participate in other community relations activities.
Broadcast meteorologists earned an annual median salary of $80,250 as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meteorologists employed by colleges, universities and state governments earned an annual median salary of $81,010. Research-focused atmospheric scientists in private industry earned an annual salary of $87,130, and meteorologists employed by the federal government earned the most at $95,460.
Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.