Online degree programs in meteorology are rare; however, hybrid options are available at the bachelor's, master's and graduate certificate levels. Undergraduate certificates are offered fully online and are more common.
Regardless of program, students can typically complete most coursework online but may need to attend campus for laboratory work. In addition to meteorology majors, meteorology concentrations may also be offered through broader online degree programs in geoscience.
Aspiring meteorologists, otherwise known as atmospheric scientists, may obtain a Bachelor of Applied Science or Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology. Working meteorologists looking for career advancement and educational enhancement can enroll in a Master of Science in Geoscience degree program offering a concentration in meteorology or a graduate certificate program in meteorology.
Meteorologists predict changes in the weather based on atmospheric conditions. They use specialized equipment and weather instruments to interpret and gauge precipitation, wind currents, barometric pressure and air temperatures. Because of the unique nature of the program and vast amount of hands-on instruction, programs are virtually all campus-based, though there are a few of online programs.
Program Information and Requirements
Students should expect to spend four years earning a bachelor's degree. Both a graduate certificate and master's degree programs may take two years or more to complete. Both types of programs often combine both classroom lectures and laboratory studies, which requires brief on-campus residency. For online instruction, students will need a computer with Internet access.
A curriculum in meteorology at the bachelor's level is made up of general education courses as well as courses specifically designed to prepare students for careers in weather forecasting. Graduate programs in meteorology may have fewer general education requirements and focus more intensely on meteorology topics in-depth. Courses give students a thorough and practical overview of contemporary trends and methods in meteorology.
Basics of Meteorology
Students gain a basic working vocabulary of meteorological terms and get an introduction to principles and techniques of contemporary weather forecasting, as well as the effects of climate and weather. There is often a laboratory component as well as classroom lectures.
Forecasting and the Oceans
This course looks at meteorology and weather forecasting in relation to the oceans. Special topics of interest include waves, tides and currents and their impact on the weather.
The Effects of Radiation
The relationship between the earth as a living organism and the impact of radiation on weather forecasting are the focus of this course. Discussion topics include photochemistry, physical climatology, climate forcing and remote atmospheric sensing.
According to a 2015 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 40% of all atmospheric scientists (including meteorologists) worked for professional or scientific services and 26% worked for the federal government. The field is expected to see a 9% growth in employment from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS reported that atmospheric and space scientists earned a median annual salary of $89,820.
Typically, employers look for candidates with at least a relevant bachelor's degree. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in meteorology are poised to work in a number of places, such as radio and television news stations, consulting firms, environmental companies and government agencies. While a bachelor's degree is typically considered sufficient for entry-level employment, some positions in research and development often require a master's degree.
Continuing Education and Certification
Bachelor's degree graduates can continue their education and obtain a master's degree or graduate certificate to aid in career advancement. The American Meteorological Society offers professional certification to candidates who fulfill certain requirements, including a written exam (www.ametsoc.org). Graduates may qualify for the Certified Consulting Meteorologist and the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist certificates that may strengthen their credentials if they're seeking weather forecasting work in television or radio.
Meteorology degree programs are available at the bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels and educate students in contemporary trends and methods in meteorology. Some programs are online, though many require a lab component which must be done on campus.