How to Become a Meteorologist Online

Nov 25, 2019

Meteorology is a branch of atmospheric science that studies weather and changes in climate. Programs in meteorology are offered at universities, leading to a bachelor's or graduate degree. Read on for information on becoming a meteorologist online.

Meteorologist Career Overview

Meteorologists study climate trends and weather patterns locally and around the globe, analyzing satellite and weather station data. This entails rigorous training in scientific skills and knowledge acquired through a meteorology or atmospheric science degree program, which may be found online. The field of employment includes laboratories, weather stations, colleges or universities as well as government agencies for research, teaching, and policy making, and news media.

Required Skills Analytical skills, communication, critical thinking, mathematics
Job Growth* 8% for 2018-2028 (for all atmospheric scientists, meteorologists included)
Median Salary (2018)* $94,110 per year (for all atmospheric scientists, meteorologists included)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Steps to Become a Meteorologist Online

Following a growing trend in online education, a few universities have set up distance programs in meteorology that lead to bachelor's or master's degrees. To boost career opportunities after formal training, professional certification is available online through the American Meteorological Society.

Step 1. Obtain a Bachelor's Degree in Meteorology Online

Most meteorologists have at least a bachelor's degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, involving four years of coursework. To fully understand the physical processes involved in weather and climate, you will learn about the planet, atmosphere, and ocean, which explains why meteorology programs are often embedded as a specialization within a broader geoscience program. Although not common, some universities offer the degree's full range of meteorology courses online, where other program requirements can be fulfilled with transfer courses or online courses at the same university.

Online program concentrations:

  • Broadcast and Operational Meteorology
  • Climatology
  • Applied Science: Meteorology

There are also shorter certificate programs offered online that can serve as a first step into the career but require further education before completing a bachelor's degree and proceeding to the master's level.

Step 2. Continue with a Master's Degree in Meteorology Online

To advance a meteorology career or engage in atmospheric research, you need a graduate degree. A typical online, non-thesis master's degree in meteorology consists of 10 to 12 courses. While courses are offered online, students may be required to visit the college to participate in a final project workshop. Additional topics studied at the master's level involve issues around hazards, Geographic Information Systems, weather forecasting, and gaining a deeper understanding of climatology.

Online program concentrations:

  • Applied Meteorology
  • Environmental Geosciences
  • Teachers in Geoscience

Step 3. Build Career Experience in Meteorology

A bachelor's degree provides access to entry-level work, whereas a graduate degree allows for employment in research as well as moving into higher positions. Typical employment opportunities are at government agencies, such as NASA or NOAA, news media, legal services (forensic meteorology), or the private sector, where meteorologists analyze the impact of weather patterns and climate on the business. An effective job search can often be conducted online.

Step 4. Get Professional Meteorology Certification Online

Following formal education and career experience, professional certification can be obtained online for the designation of Certified Broadcast Meteorologist through the American Meteorological Society. Applicants take an online proctored exam and submit personal weathercast samples for evaluation. Certification is not required to work as a meteorologist but showcases an understanding of professional standards and provides a credential for further career advancements.

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