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Difference Between Meteorologist & Chief Meteorologist

May 30, 2020

Comparing Meteorologists to Chief Meteorologists

For those who are passionate about all things weather related, working as a meteorologist may be an excellent choice. Although the titles are often used synonymously, meteorologists and chief meteorologists are two distinct positions. Discover the similarities and differences between those who work in both weather-based careers.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2020)* Job Growth (2018-2028)**
Meteorologist Bachelor's Degree $55,771 8% (For all atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists)
Chief Meteorologist Bachelor's Degree $76,896 8% (For all atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists)

Source: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Meteorologists and Chief Meteorologists

Because of how closely related the positions are, limited differences exist between meteorologists and chief meteorologists. To work in either position, one must earn a bachelor's degree in meteorological science or a closely related field. In order to earn degrees, future meteorologists and chief meteorologists must excel in math and science (especially physics). The defining separation of the two roles lies in the work environment or level of responsibility. Meteorologists commonly work in offices, or in research and academic settings with graduate degrees. Chief meteorologists, however, lead a team of meteorologists. They might be featured as on-air personalities at television stations, work for government agencies, or function as a part of the military.

Meteorologists

Those who enjoy analyzing weather conditions and other weather related subjects may be an exceptional fit for the role of meteorologist. Simply put, meteorologists work to predict and report current and future weather conditions. They analyze weather data using the latest weather reporting equipment and software. To help advance the future of weather forecasting, some meteorologists work on improving existing weather tools. Meteorologists often work in offices, while some work in the field or in academic settings (such as a university).

Job duties of a meteorologist may include the following:

  • Interpret computer model data to better understand future weather patterns
  • Create weather reports for distribution to media outlets
  • Educate the public about important weather related terms
  • Train new meteorology staff members in using weather tools

Chief Meteorologists

The core role of a chief meteorologist is to lead a weather team and report the weather to others. Therefore, in addition to having a superior understanding of math, science, and weather, chief meteorologists must be outstanding communicators. Those serving as broadcast meteorologists must deliver weather reports clearly and in a way that engages the audience. Additionally, they must be able to use weather systems to aid in collecting and reporting weather forecasts.

Job duties of a chief meteorologist may include the following:

  • Create weather stories that are relevant and easily understood by a television audience
  • Provide weather updates to viewers through social media and television station websites
  • Deliver severe weather warnings in a timely fashion
  • Make weather maps to present in reports
  • Communicate effectively with a team of meteorologists

Related Careers

If you are considering a career as a meteorologist, another closely related job is that of a climatologist, to study the climate of the earth. Also, if you like the idea of reporting important information on television, working as a television journalist might be the right choice for you.

How to Become a Climatologist: Education and Career Roadmap

Television Journalist Education Requirements

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