It’s a tough subject that requires significant amounts of research and higher education to accomplish. A Ph.D. in meteorology can be a rewarding endeavor for those who want to reach the zenith within this fascinating field.

For those seeking to become a meteorologist or climatologist, they should be prepared to take a wide range of subjects in order to understand the complex way the world works on the surface as well as in the sky.

Length of Time for a Ph.D.

Meteorologist education requirements can vary by school. Generally, to become a meteorologist, you will need a four-year bachelor of science degree in either meteorology or atmospheric science. Following the completion of a four-year degree, students can begin to work in the field as they go on to obtain a Ph.D. in meteorology.

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Typically, doctoral degrees in meteorology are designed to be completed within five to six years. However, the complex subject can pull students into its orbit for seven to eight years on average as they study the Earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences.

Undergraduate Preparation for Meteorology

If you feel early on that the weather is a fascinating subject, then you should begin to soak in a few basic subjects that will help your future college career. Take as many math, science and computer classes as possible to shore up your understanding of these fundamental courses.

While in undergraduate school, prepare for graduate programs by including a wide variety of classes in the following subjects:

  • Chemistry
  • Earth science
  • Environmental science
  • Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Meteorology

Careers in Meteorology

There are many ways a student can use a degree in meteorology. From a weather forecaster to a top-notch researcher exploring solar storms or ocean trends, there are many meteorology jobs for a graduate.

Meteorology jobs include:

  • Weather forecasters
  • Climatologists
  • Researchers in atmospheric sciences
  • Consulting meteorologists
  • Lecturers
  • Weather broadcasters

Salary for Meteorologists

A student who has a bachelor of science and has studied physics, earth sciences, math courses and other basics in order to work as a meteorologist can earn roughly $55,000 a year.

A meteorologist with a doctoral degree can earn about $90,000 upon graduation from a Ph.D. program and up to the low six figures in research or teaching positions at esteemed institutes.

Top Meteorology Schools

Florida State University

Florida State University is home to one of the largest Ph.D. programs in meteorology and atmospheric science available in the country. Graduate students study theory and practice in the classroom as well as in top-notch labs and in the field.

Students in the Ph.D. meteorology program need to complete a minimum of 35 hours of departmental coursework. The master’s program requires a thesis before the student can graduate. Ph.D. students can begin work on their dissertation fairly early in their studies at FSU.

University of Oklahoma Norman Campus

The School of Meteorology at University of Oklahoma consistently rates as one of the top five atmospheric science programs in the United States that is funded by the National Science Foundation. This Ph.D. in meteorology program is heavy on weather and climate research topics.

This is a supportive and engaged student body with less than 400 total students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. Students study serious issues that affect the global economy, quality of living and environment.

University of Alaska, Fairbanks

This vibrant academic program in meteorology is ranked as one of the best for its excellent facilities, faculty engagement and location. The Ph.D. in meteorology program covers a broad spectrum of atmospheric topics, from the study of the polar atmosphere to climate change across the world and its effects.

The school is known for its hands-on course work. Students can gain experience by conducting research on all aspects of the ocean, earth, atmosphere and Arctic biosphere.

About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.