Employment of atmospheric scientists is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.
New computer models have vastly improved the accuracy of forecasts and allowed atmospheric scientists to tailor forecasts to specific purposes. This should maintain, and perhaps increase, the need for atmospheric scientists working in private industry as businesses demand more specialized weather information.
Businesses increasingly rely on just-in-time delivery to avoid the expenses incurred by traditional inventory management methods. Severe weather can interrupt ground or air transportation and delay inventory delivery. Businesses have begun to maintain forecasting teams around the clock to advise delivery personnel, helping them stay on schedule. In addition, severe weather patterns have become widely recognized, and industries have become increasingly concerned about their impact, which will create demand for work in atmospheric science.
As utility companies continue to adopt wind and solar power, they must depend more heavily on weather forecasting to arrange for buying and selling power. This should lead to increased reliance on atmospheric scientists to help utilities know when they can sell their excess power, and when they will need to buy.
Prospective atmospheric scientists should expect continued competition because the number of graduates from meteorology programs is expected to exceed the number of job openings requiring only a bachelor's degree. Workers with a graduate degree should have better prospects than those whose highest level of education is a bachelor's degree. Prospective atmospheric scientists with knowledge of advanced mathematics also will have better job prospects because of the highly quantitative nature of much of this occupation's work.
Competition may be strong for research positions at colleges and universities because of the limited number of positions available. Few opportunities are expected in federal government because atmospheric scientists will be hired only to replace workers who retire or leave for other reasons. Budget constraints are also expected to limit hiring by federal agencies such as the National Weather Service. The best job prospects for meteorologists are expected to be in private industry.
The National Weather Service and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) sponsor an online training program called COMET. The training, for both novice and fully trained atmospheric scientists, helps participants to stay current with the latest science and technology. Training is offered in a series of self-paced lessons, which are combined into courses. Certificates of completion are awarded for both lessons and courses. Completing such coursework may help prospective atmospheric scientists to have better job prospects.
Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists
Life, physical, and social science occupations
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program