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What is a meteorologist? What exactly do they (you) do?

Question submitted by David
(Terrace, BC)

I get this question a lot, David, so I thought I would answer it here!
While many people know a meteorologist is a person experienced and trained in meteorology or an atmospheric science, many viewers still want to know several questions about meteorologists.

What Does a Meteorologist Do?
What Are the Types of Meteorologists?
How Can I Become a Meteorologist?

A meteorologist is a term often used to describe anyone who studies meteorology. Popularly, any weather reporter on television is often called a meteorologist, but that is not always the case. In 1990, the American Meteorological Society set an official description of a meteorologist.

A meteorologist is an individual with specialized education who uses scientific principles to explain, understand, observe or forecast the earth's atmospheric phenomena and/or how the atmosphere affects the earth and life on the planet. This specialized education would be a bachelor's or higher degree in meteorology or an atmospheric science. Individuals who have little formal education in the atmospheric sciences, or who have taken only industry survey courses, and who disseminate weather information and forecasts prepared by others, are properly designated weathercasters.

Furthermore there are many types of meteorologists:
Meteorologists work in a range of fields each with a specialized area of study. Essentially, a meteorologist is a specialized scientist that focuses on some aspect of the atmosphere. The following list shows just some of the types of meteorologists.
Broadcast Meteorologists: These folks are the people who interpret and report the weather for television.
Research Meteorologists: Many of these scientists work for the National Weather Service or other government agency. NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the military. Most have a particular issue they are studying.
Teachers and Professors: Many people use their knowledge of the atmosphere and meteorology to become educators. Sharing your knowledge at a high school or college level can help to create future generations of meteorologists.
Forensic Meteorologists: This type of meteorologist will often investigate claims for insurance companies on past weather or research weather for a court of law.
Consulting Meteorologists: Large companies now hire meteorologists for consultation work. Companies such as Liz Claiborne, M&M Candies, and Target all hire meteorologists to improve their buying and selling power.
Climate Meteorologists: This type of meteorologist looks at long-term weather patterns and data to help predict future climate trends and past climate data.
Archive Meteorologists: Many weather scientists will also be in charge of researching, verifying, and reporting on storms of the past.

It's a fun and fascinating science, and I love working in this field.

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