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Meteorologist (Broadcast): Career Information

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Sam Champion, Meteorologist on Good Morning America on ABC

Sam Champion, Good Morning America's Meteorologist

Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

Job Description:

Everyone is familiar with broadcast meteorologists, often referred to as weathermen. We see them on television or listen to them on the radio daily. We rely on them to inform us about what to expect when we walk out the door each morning and as we go about our day. We get mad at them when we don't like what they have to say—oh no, it's going to rain all weekend!— or when what they tell us proves to be incorrect. Think of Sam Champion on ABC's Good Morning America, Al Roker on NBC's Today or your local weatherman.

While meteorologists in general are atmospheric scientists, those we see on television newscasts may not be, at least as far as their formal training goes. Many are broadcast journalists, not scientists. As such, they report weather forecasts and current conditions to the public. They tell their audiences, through television, radio and Internet broadcasts, about that day's weather and what to expect in upcoming days. They also alert us to severe weather events so that we may prepare for them.

Employment Facts:

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not count broadcast meteorologists separately from atmospheric scientists, the occupation of which they are part. There were 10,000 atmospheric scientists employed in 2010. Some of them were broadcast meteorologists.

Educational Requirements:

While some meteorologists who work in broadcasting have bachelor's, master's or Ph.Ds in atmospheric or a related science, many do not. Instead they have degrees in journalism or communications which provides them with the proper training to work on television or radio news programs. Classes in public speaking are an important part of one's training in this occupation as well.

Advancement Opportunities:

Broadcast meteorologists often begin their careers at television or radio stations in small markets. Some move into larger markets, for example those in big cities like New York, but competition is fierce. Some, like the aforementioned Sam Champion and Al Roker, make it to national news shows where they become part of the anchor team.

Job Outlook:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not give a separate prediction regarding job outlook for broadcast meteorologists. They do tell us that employment of atmospheric scientists, in general, will grow only as fast as the average for all occupations. It is reasonable to assume that broadcast meteorologists will face tough competition, particularly for jobs with higher visibility.

Earnings:

Meteorologists who were employed in radio and television broadcasting earned a median annual salary of $80,250 in 2010, the most recent year for which that data is available. The big names in the industry most likely earned considerably more than that.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a broadcast meteorologist currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Meteorologist's Life:

On a typical day a meteorologist's tasks might include:

  • Delivering reports on current weather conditions and forecasts to a television or radio audience
  • Reporting on weather or environmental events, for example blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, forest fires and eclipses, from remote locations
  • Creating maps and graphics to illustrate weather conditions
  • Issuing warnings about impending severe weather conditions

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Life-Physical-and-Social-Science/Atmospheric-scientists-including-meteorologists.htm (visited June 06, 2012).
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/details/19-2021.00 (visited June 06, 2012).

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