Television meteorologists are also called atmospheric scientists or TV weathermen and weatherwomen. They report on local, state, national and international weather on broadcast and cable TV. The job typically requires a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science or a related field. Important skills for the profession include public speaking, writing, math and critical thinking.
TV meteorologists measure temperature, air pressure and other atmospheric properties, prepare forecasts with the help of computers, produce weather maps and graphics and report on weather conditions through TV broadcasts. They typically appear with news teams, though they might also do research for TV presenters who handle weather reports. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 7 percent of the 9,500 jobs in meteorology were found in radio and TV broadcasting in 2010. The BLS reports that as of May 2011, atmospheric scientists working in broadcast television made an average of $81,360 per year. This figure does not include weather presenters with no training in meteorology.
In a November 2011 report, meteorologist AJ Jain discussed salaries for TV weathermen in small markets. He characterized small markets as those ranked 140th or higher by Nielsen ratings, which represented 0.15 percent or less of the homes as of 2009. Salaries in these markets ranged from $17,000 to $30,000 a year, far less than the averages for the profession reported by the BLS. He also said these professionals typically perform multiple roles, such as that of regular newscasters, so station owners can save money. The advantage of small markets is that they let new TV meteorologists gain experience that can help them move on to careers in larger markets.
The BLS reports that the mean annual wage for all atmospheric and space scientists was $90,860 per year as of May 2011. The industry with the most jobs for meteorologists was the federal government. It paid average salaries at $96,380 per year. In terms of number of jobs for these professionals, television broadcasting alone would rank among the top five with 740 jobs.
The BLS sees jobs for all atmospheric scientists, including those on TV, increasing 11 percent from 2010 to 2020. This compares to a 14 percent expected growth rate for for all jobs in all industries. Competition for TV meteorologist jobs will be tight as the number of graduates exceeds the number of job openings. Workers with graduate degrees will enjoy better prospects than those with bachelor’s degrees.