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Meteorologist

Meteorologists study the physics, chemistry and dynamics of the atmosphere and its interaction with land and water surfaces, weather, climate, climate change and their effect on people's health and safety, the economy and the earth's ecosystems.

Also Known As:Climatologist, Physical Scientist, Research Scientist, Weather Forecaster
NOC Number(s):2114
Minimum Education:4 years post-secondary education/training
Employment Outlook:Job openings generated due to employment turnover. Occupational outlook currently unavailable.
Interests:I O D

Related Videos:

Broadcast Meteorologist


Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Related Legislation | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

In general, meteorologists may be involved in:

  • weather forecasting
  • providing consulting services regarding weather and climate, air quality, sea and lake ice, or hydrology (for more information, see the Hydrologist occupational profile)
  • conducting research and developing models
  • applying meteorological knowledge to problems in agriculture, forestry, air pollution, water management, energy, hydrometeorology (water in the atmosphere), transportation, national defense or the arctic environment
  • supporting management activities through business planning, policy development and performance measurement.

Meteorologists may work as applied meteorologists, climatologists, research meteorologists, instrumentation specialists or weather broadcasters.

  • Applied meteorologists provide analyses, forecasts, warnings and advice tailored to the requirements of a business, a governmental organization, or an industry (for example, transportation, energy, agriculture, forestry, recreation).
  • Climatologists study weather records gathered over long periods of time and conduct numerical simulations of climate conditions to understand and predict global changes and long term or seasonal weather patterns for specific regions, and anticipate the impact of climate change and adaptation strategies.
  • Research meteorologists study the dynamic, physical or chemical processes of the atmosphere and its interaction with land and ocean surfaces. They may study small-scale phenomena (for example, clouds, the electrical and chemical properties of the atmosphere), large-scale phenomena (for example, transport of air pollutants, hurricanes) or be involved in developing mathematical simulation models for weather and climate prediction.
  • Instrumentation specialists develop instruments and systems to measure and record weather variables.
  • Weather broadcasters provide weather forecasts and other weather information to the public via television, radio and the Internet.

Working Conditions

Most meteorologists are stationed in urban centres and work in an office setting.

Applied meteorologists at weather centres often work rotating shifts that include night shifts and sometimes work alone.

Weather broadcasters often work evening shifts and may work long hours during weather-related emergencies.


Personal Characteristics

Meteorologists need the ability to:

  • communicate effectively in person and in writing
  • think conceptually in multiple dimensions
  • apply theoretical concepts and analyze large volumes of information
  • make decisions under the pressure of fixed deadlines and varying workload
  • work alone or as part of a team.

They should enjoy co-ordinating and conducting research, using instruments and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision, and working with people.


Educational Requirements

The minimum education requirement is a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in atmospheric sciences (or a related discipline with nine or more courses in atmospheric sciences). With increasing automation of routine weather forecast production work, it is advantageous for employment prospects to have master's or doctoral degrees as well as marketing skills. Many meteorologists have to plan and carry out investigations, develop and test numerical models, and prepare reports.

In general, the entrance requirement for a master's degree program in meteorology or atmospheric sciences is a B.Sc. in math, physics, chemistry, meteorology or atmospheric science with a minimum specified average in the last two years of study. Universities and university colleges located throughout Alberta offer B.Sc. degree programs in math, physics and chemistry. 

In Alberta, the University of Alberta in Edmonton offers a four year B.Sc. degree program with specialization in atmospheric sciences. The entrance requirement is a competitive average (70 to 80 per cent) in English Language Arts 30-1, Pure Math 30, Physics 30, Chemistry 30 and one other approved Grade 12 subject. The University of Alberta also offers master's and doctoral (PhD) degree programs in atmospheric sciences.

Elsewhere in Canada, the following institutions offer programs in meteorology or atmospheric science:

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.


Related Legislation

The Environmental Careers Organization Canada (ECO Canada) offers certification as a Professional Meteorologist (P.Met.) for qualified applicants.

The Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society offers certification to qualified applicants who wish to become consulting meteorologists.


Employment and Advancement

The Meteorological Service of Canada, part of Environment Canada, has been and still is the largest employer of meteorologists in Canada. However, a growing number of meteorologists are employed in the private sector, providing value added and specialist meteorological products and services (related to road conditions, offshore oil and gas operations, forest fire services, or wind and solar energy, for example).

The number of meteorologists employed by Environment Canada is expected to remain constant. Normal employee turnover will probably create 30 to 35 job openings each year. Meteorologists also are employed by:

  • private meteorology firms
  • environmental consulting firms
  • companies in the transportation and energy sectors.

There are a few broadcast meteorologists in Alberta. For related information, see the Announcer and Reporter occupational profiles.

Meteorologists who have doctoral degrees may be employed as instructors and researchers at universities.

In Alberta, 92 per cent of people employed as meteorologists work in the following industries:


Salary

Incomes vary depending on meteorologists' responsibilities and where they are employed.

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Meteorologists occupational group earned on average from $34.66 to $44.22 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $40.32 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.


Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (CMOS) website: www.cmos.ca

ECO Canada (Environmental Careers Organization) website: www.eco.ca  

Environment Canada - Weather and Meteorology website: www.ec.gc.ca/meteo-weather


Related Occupational Profiles
Oceanographer

Related High School Subjects
English Language Arts; Mathematics; and Science (Chemistry; and Physics)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Sciences

Produced February 2012
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services