If you are surprised by the weather, it is not necessarily the weather forecaster's error. Rapidly changing atmospheric conditions sometimes reverse predictions. The job performed by forecasters is important especially when predicting severe turbulent storms. Human lives and safety are sometimes dependent on an advanced warning given by those that study weather patterns. Compensation for these specialists varies by location and industry.
A viable strategy for a career as a weather forecaster or meteorologist begins with obtaining an undergraduate degree. It is important to take advanced math classes such as calculus and physics. Of equal importance are science studies. Knowledge of chemistry and geology provide a background for understanding weather patterns. Additionally, as weather forecasters work with highly technical equipment, computer coursework is a necessity.
If you are thinking about a career as a weather anchor, you must be comfortable in front of a camera and possess finely honed communication skills. Variables such a geographic location, experience level and size of the viewing market impact salaries. According to PayScale, an online compensation data company, the average national base salary for a weather forecaster as of September 2010 ranged from $33,014 to $67,752.
Not all weather forecasters are qualified meteorologists. Guidelines published by the American Meteorology Society define a meteorologist as an individual with a specialized education who uses scientific principles when predicting atmospheric conditions. To establish credibility in the field, professionals who earned a degree in meteorology, or a related science field, can obtain a national certification from the AMS. According to 2010 data from a salary survey performed by Salary.com, the national average for a meteorologist is $89,601.
Leading Market Compensation
Salaries for meteorologist at television stations may vary by the shift worked. At large networks, the meteorologist managing the team receives a higher compensation rate than the staff. In general, the meteorologists given airtime on weekends fall into a lower salary range. At some of the top 10 national television networks, which include cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, the pay scale accelerates. Average compensation packages in these cities can range from $100,000 to $500,000.
National Weather Service
Aligning your career with the National Weather Service gives you an opportunity to work for the federal government. Employment opportunities exist for students who are U.S. citizens. Volunteer training programs offered by the U.S. Department of Commerce enables students to gain valuable work experience prior to graduation. Due to government budget cuts, employment is highly competitive. Experienced meteorologists with advanced degrees are among those in the hiring pool. The starting salary for an intern is approximately $28,000. Forecasters in a lead position with more than five years' experience are paid an average of $70,000 per year.