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Meteorologists study the atmosphere's physical characteristics, motions, and processes, and the way in which these factors affect the rest of our environment. The best known application of this knowledge is forecasting the weather. In addition to predicting the weather, atmospheric scientists attempt to identify and interpret climate trends, understand past weather, and analyze today's weather. Weather information and meteorological research are also applied in air-pollution control, agriculture, forestry, air and sea transportation, defense, and the study of possible trends in the Earth's climate, such as global warming, droughts, and ozone depletion.

Hours: Most weather stations operate around the clock, 7 days a week. Jobs in such facilities usually involve night, weekend, and holiday work, often with rotating shifts. During weather emergencies, such as hurricanes, meteorologists may work overtime. Operational meteorologists also are often under pressure to meet forecast deadlines. Meteorologists who are not involved in forecasting tasks work regular hours, usually in offices.

Opportunities: The Federal Government was the largest single employer of civilian meteorologists, accounting for about 37 percent. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employed most Federal meteorologists in National Weather Service stations throughout the Nation; the remainder of NOAA's meteorologists worked mainly in research and development or management. The U.S. Department of Defense employed several hundred civilian meteorologists. In addition to civilian meteorologists, hundreds of Armed Forces members are involved in forecasting and other meteorological work.   Employment is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Atmospheric scientists should have favorable job prospects, but opportunities in broadcasting are rare and highly competitive.

Pay: The average salary for meteorologists employed by the Federal Government was $84,882 in 2007. Many meteorologists in the Federal Government with a bachelor's degree received a starting salary of $35,752, or slightly higher in areas of the country where the prevailing local pay level is higher.

Training: A bachelor's degree in meteorology or atmospheric science, or in a closely related field with courses in meteorology, usually is the minimum educational requirement for an entry-level position as an atmospheric scientist. A master's degree is necessary for some positions, and a Ph.D. degree is required for most basic research positions.

Citation: Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Atmospheric Scientists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos051.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).

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