Atmospheric Scientist, including Meteorologist

Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists study weather, climate, and other aspects of the atmosphere. They develop reports and forecasts from their analysis of weather and climate data.


Sample of Reported Job Titles

Broadcast Meteorologist, Chief Meteorologist, Forecaster, General Forecaster, Hydrometeorological Technician, Meteorologist, Meteorologist-in-Charge, Science and Operations Officer (SOO), Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Weather Forecaster


Atmospheric scientists typically do the following:

  • Measure temperature, air pressure, and other properties of the atmosphere
  • Develop and use computer models that analyze data about the atmosphere (also called meteorological data)
  • Produce weather maps and graphics
  • Report current weather conditions
  • Prepare long- and short-term weather forecasts using sophisticated computer and mathematical models, satellite and radar data
  • Issue warnings to protect life and property during severe weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and flash floods

Atmospheric scientists use highly developed instruments and computer programs to do their jobs. For example, they use weather balloons, radar systems, satellites, and sensors to monitor the weather and collect data. The data they collect and analyze are critical to understanding air pollution, drought, loss of the ozone layer, and other problems. Atmospheric scientists also use graphics software to illustrate their forecasts and reports.

Many atmospheric scientists work with scientists and professionals in other fields to help solve problems in areas such as commerce, energy, transportation, agriculture, and the environment. For example, some atmospheric scientists work on teams with other scientists and engineers to find the best locations for new wind farms, which are groups of wind turbines used to generate electricity. Others work closely with hydrologists to monitor the impact climate change has on water supplies and to manage water resources.

The following are examples of types of atmospheric scientists:

Broadcast meteorologists give forecasts to the general public through television, radio, and the Internet. They use graphics software to develop maps and charts that explain their forecasts.

Climate scientists study historical weather patterns to interpret and forecast long-term weather patterns or shifts in climate, such as expected precipitation levels years or decades in the future.

Forensic meteorologists use historical weather data to reconstruct the weather conditions for a specific location and time. They investigate what role weather played in unusual events such as traffic accidents and fires. Forensic meteorologists may be called as experts to testify in court.

Research meteorologists develop new methods of data collection, observation, and forecasting. They also conduct studies to improve basic understandings of climate, weather, and other aspects of the atmosphere.

Weather forecasters use computer and mathematical models to produce weather reports and short-term forecasts that can range from a few minutes to more than a week.


Educational Requirements

The most direct path to a career in meteorology is an undergraduate program that leads to a bachelor's degree in meteorology or atmospheric science. If you are interested in a career in research, an undergraduate major in physics, chemistry, engineering, or mathematics can prepare you to study atmospheric science in graduate school. Although many careers in meteorology are available to college graduates with a bachelor's degree, graduate-level education opens the door to many more professional opportunities. A master's or doctoral degree is very important if you plan to go into atmospheric research.


Salary Range 2010



Want to know more?

American Meteorological Society

OOH-Atmospheric Scientists

Earth Guide-Careers in Meteorology (PDF)

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research


Get Connected

Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.

National Weather Association

American Meteorological Society

List of Professional Organizations

The Career Connector for Purdue College of Science Students & Alumni 


Get Experience

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Volunteer Program

NOAA Student Opportunities

American Meteorological Society Intern Board

Research & Internship Listings


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Penn State-Meteorology Job Listings

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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