What Does a Meteorologist Do?

meteorologist Credit: Ryan McGinnis/Moment/Getty Images

Meteorologists study and educate people about the Earth’s atmosphere and weather. Many weather forecasters on television news programs are meteorologists, although others work in universities or in the private sector.

Most meteorologists belong to the American Meteorological Society. Meteorologists study atmospheric conditions such as temperature, humidity, wind speed and air pressure to learn about the weather and make predictions. Meteorologists may work for a variety of industries, including those associated with travel, military operations, science or communications. Most meteorologists have advanced science degrees.

Meteorology is an ancient science, though humans can still only predict the weather a few days in advance with any degree of certainty. Even under relatively stable conditions, the intricacies of the Earth’s atmosphere can change the weather quickly and in unpredictable ways. For example, snow can quickly become freezing rain if the temperature climbs a few degrees.

Modern meteorologists make use of worldwide data and complex computer models to predict the upcoming weather. Usually, predictions are presented as probabilities. For example, a meteorologist cannot be sure that it will rain later in the week, but the computer models show that under similar conditions, rain occurs 10 percent of the time. Accordingly, the meteorologist would state that there is a 10 percent chance of rain.