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Atmospheric Science is the study of the atmosphere - the blanket of air covering Earth. Atmospheric Scientists are commonly called meteorologists. They specialize in areas including weather forecasting and analyzing climate changes and trends. Their research is applied in air-pollution control, agriculture, forestry, transportation, defense and the study of trends in Earth's climate including drought, ozone cycles and global warming and cooling to name a few.


Careers in the Atmospheric Sciences

careersImages1 Career opportunities in Atmospheric Science can be found in academia, government service, and private industry. One in ten Atmospheric Scientists are employed by the Federal Governent. The field is expected to grow "as fast as average" through 2014. The median annual earnings of Atmospheric Scientists in May 2004 were $70,000 according to U.S. government statistics.

What are people doing in the field?

  • Meteorologists in broadcasting
  • Analysts of weather for industry, commerce & defense
  • Forecasters for agriculture, fisheries, construction, transportation, utility & insurance companies and many more
  • Air quality monitoring
  • Researchers in government and industrial labs and universities
  • Instructors and Professors in universities
To find out what some of our students and researchers are doing, visit our showcase.

What Education do you need?

It is recommended that students in 6th though 12th grade keep math and the physical sciences in their class schedule. Courses in earth sciences can also provide valuable insight into the atmospheric environment. Atmospheric Scientists utilize computers heavily in many applications. If you feel you are not scientifically inclined but love clouds and weather, don't let that stop you from finding out if Atmospheric Science is for you!

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.

An M.S. degree usually is necessary for conducting applied research and development, and a Ph.D. is required for most basic research positions. Students planning on a career in research and development do not necessarily need to major in Atmospheric Science or Meteorology as an undergraduate. In fact, a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, Physics, or Engineering provides excellent preparation for graduate study in Atmospheric Science.

How to Choose a School and Program

There are hundreds of undergraduate and graduate programs in the Atmospheric Sciences in America and around the world. Your decision should take into consideration the following:

  • Does the school have the major you are interested in?
  • Is the cost of the school manageable?
  • Are you socially self-sufficient? Do you prefer to be within a few hours drive of home?
  • It is never too late to attend a four-year university. Many students attend a junior college for one or two years first.
  • Do you need a master's or Ph.D. for the job you want? Perhaps a bachelor's degree will work.
  • Pick a college that has the Atmospheric Science field you want to specialize in.
  • How large is the department? Is there the opportunity to move specializations?
  • Contact faculty members and graduate students if possible. Ask about their research. A good advisor will be able to answer you quickly.
  • Graduate school tips
  • How to Succeed in Graduate School from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Programs at CMMAP home and partner institutions

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