Back to school?
July 27, 2014 4:54 PM   Subscribe

Why did you get a master's in atmospheric sciences? What kinds of jobs are available for people with this training? I have my BA and am considering going back to school. I love weather and that part of the newscast is always my favorite. Your stories and any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!
posted by rabu to Education (6 answers total)
You might wish to start with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' section on atmospheric science, which includes sub-categories of job types, though it doesn't get incredibly specific. Although my prior career was in television broadcasting, it was unrelated to meteorology; however, I can tell you that anything in broadcasting will likely be far more competitive (and perhaps surprisingly, pay less well and have more inconveniences) than any of the other categories. You might also want to read back issues of the newsletter of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 5:27 PM on July 27, 2014

One of my good friends works for the Air Force as a weather forecaster.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:30 PM on July 27, 2014

THIS is an excellent resource.
posted by harrietthespy at 5:40 PM on July 27, 2014

What's your math background? I only ask because you mention a BA instead of a BS, but your math skills will determine a lot about the kind of programs you could get into and jobs you'd be eligible for.

Atmospheric science is about as math-intensive as you can get - it's basically applied advanced physics. Before you go too far in your career search, it would be well worth checking into the math & physics prerequisites for a typical program to make sure you're comfortable. My guess is that it would be a good year's worth of postbaccalaureate work if you don't already have those credits.
posted by dialetheia at 6:34 PM on July 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I once read a story about a German woman who came to the US to earn a university degree in atmospheric science and then went on to become a flight attendant, which she absolutely loved. Most people would go a different route and chances are that it's not your ultimate career goal but it shows that a specific science degree can be even more flexible than one might initially think!

In addition to getting feedback from Mefites with Masters of Atmospheric Science, I'd speak to two main groups: the career services and alumni network people at a school you're interested in. A quality program will have high job placement, and successful and happy graduates tend to be more than glad to speak to potential graduate students. I'd also check with your local news stations and see if you could shadow or at least briefly interview their meteorologists to hear their experiences and see what they recommend.

One last thing: have you also considered getting a MS in GIS? I'm not a scientist but have heard great things about job prospects and think there might be some overlap with your interests. (And please do correct me if I'm totally off!) Good luck!
posted by smorgasbord at 7:28 PM on July 27, 2014

I have all the classes for a MS in meteorology, but not the actual degree (grumble grumble thesis). My BS is in meteorology also and I work for the NWS.

Are you interested in day to day weather forecasting? Or more into research? Those are the two basic career paths for atmospheric sciences people, with some offshoot into air quality for some.

Seconding those that were asking about your math background. I had to take three semesters of calculus and one of differential equations for my BS, and still needed another DiffEq class for grad school. I do know of several people in atmospheric sciences MS programs that have bachelor degrees in other fields, but they were usually math or engineering. Check out the prerequisites before starting to apply.

You should be aware that there are currently way *way* more people graduating with degrees of any level than there are jobs in atmospheric science. It has gotten to the point where an entry level position in the National Weather Service (that just has BS degree requirements) can get applicants that have PhDs. Not trying to crush your dreams or anything, just letting you know that competition will be very stiff.

Feel free to memail me with any questions. Good luck!
posted by weathergal at 1:40 AM on July 28, 2014

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