How can I become a meteorologist / TV Weathercaster?

One of the most popular questions into the KOMO 4 Weather E-mail bin is "How can I become a meteorologist?"

We're here to help :)

High School Students:

While in high school, just be sure to take as many science and math-type related classes as you can--such as Physics, Chemistry, Trigonometry, etc. If your high school offers an early college math program, it'll give you a head start in your weather degree.

In the meantime, just read as much about weather as you can---you can find a lot of easy research on the Internet. Become familiar with basic terms such as what a barometer is, or what is the difference between high and low pressure, or what a cold front is. A good place to search around is: Weather.about.com .

Other good resources would be to paruse through our Ask Steve Web site, as well as our Weather FAQ to learn about Northwest weather quirks.

Or even better yet, Steve Pool and I have co-authored a book called "Somewhere, I Was Right" that is a fun look at how to forecast weather in the Northwest. You can find out more information there at www.stevepool.com

College Students:

Once you get to college, if you want to major in Meteorology or Atmospheric Sciences, guidance counselors there will steer you towards the correct classes. 

To get an idea of classes you'll be taking, this link will give you the rundown of what classes you're expected to take at the Univ. of Washington should you want to major in Atmospheric Sciences. 

The UW is the only major college in the Pacific Northwest to offer a weather degree, but you don't have to go to the UW. Our Web site also has a link to all U.S. Colleges that offer a weather degree, as well as links to their respective departments.

Look Into Internships!

Several weather-related companies -- including TV stations and the National Weather Service -- offer internships to college students. This is one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of getting hired outside of college.  At KOMO-TV, we offer unpaid TV Weather internships for college credit for juniors and seniors who are enrolled in a weather degree program.

It's a fantastic way to get some experience in the weather forecasting world and that experience can give you an tremendous advantage in competing with your classmates for that first job when you graduate. I took two internships in college and I probably wouldn't be here today without them.

Where To Look Once You Graduate

As far as what kind of jobs are out there once you graduate, there's many different areas, such as: 

  • National Weather Service/Public forecasting
  • TV Broadcast Weather
  •  Media Weather Provider Companies 
  • Air Quality Agencies
  • Aerospace Companies 
  • University-based Research
  • Forensic Meteorology
  • Military

National Weather Service/Public Forecasting

This link: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/wrhq/nwspage.html has links to each individual Weather Service forecast office's Web site. Contact them for job availability and information. 

Broadcast / TV Meteorology

Of course, there's becoming a TV Weatherman. You'll usually have to start your career out of college in a small city such as Yakima or Eugene and work your way up to jobs in larger cities as you gain experience. 

But if you don't mind moving every little while and if you're somewhat flexible where in you can live, you could work your way up pretty quickly. 

Mississippi State University offers a degree in broadcast meteorology, and you can even get the degree via correspondence. Check their Web site for more details.

There's also The Weather Channel (based in Atlanta, Georgia), which offers a variety of positions, from on-air meteorologists, to background weather producers, graphic designers, and Web producing.

Private Media Weather Companies

If you want to check out the private sector, there are all sorts of private weather companies provide private weather forecasting services to the media, such as TV, radio, and newspapers, as well as other industries. 

If that sounds interesting, check out these companies:

Locally, you can also try Northwest Weather Net based in Issaquah. 

Other Companies

  • Air Quality Agencies, who hire weather forecasters to monitor air quality control, or state utilities. 
  • Aerospace companies such as Boeing, also have meteorologists on staff, as do mainy of the major airlines, to help route flights around weather and prepare ahead of time for potential weather delays. 
  • The agriculture industry needs meteorologists to help with crop forecasting. 
  • You can also try other private agencies that might rely on weather for business-- such as insurance companies or shipping companies. 
  • And, of course, the military offers positions in weather forecasting and observations.  You can even get ROTC 4-year scholarships for college if you qualify.  See a local recruiter for information there.

For more information, I suggest doing some searches on a Web search site such as google.com for meteorology jobs and see what pops up.

And if you thirst for more information, check out this site from the Weather Channel on hunting for weather jobs.

And finally, before you go, be sure to check out this site from the American Meteorological Society . It has tons more information on jobs available in the field, as well as salary outlooks and tips to getting that first job. 

Any other questions? Feel free to e-mail me at scotts@komotv.com

Happy Job Hunting!
-Scott Sistek
KOMO Weather Producer