How to Become a Climatologist

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Climatology is a branch of atmospheric science that focuses on the study of climate over a period of time. Climatologists are trained professionals that study long-term climate trends and aim to predict changes and how the changes will affect the environment.

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Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

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What does a climatologist do?

Climatologists study climate patterns of many periods of time such as months, years, and centuries. They obtain, evaluate, and interpret past records of climate in certain regions or areas. They often study temperature, sunshine, rain, and wind. Many analyze patterns in climate over past years to predict the weather of a particular season. Climatologists also study the temperatures and current changes of oceans. They use their information to construct climate models using specialized computer software. The models are often used to illustrate historical events that involve the climate of the earth. Climatologists also use their models to forecast future events based on past information. They sometimes manipulate the models to demonstrate how many different changes can impact future climate. The studies of climatologists are often used to design buildings and plan heating and cooling systems. Climatologists often work for government organizations, nonprofit agencies, professional laboratories, and professional weather service organizations.

What kind of training does a climatologist need?

Climatologists typically need at least a bachelor degree in climatology or other related field. Some employers prefer applicants with a master or doctorate degree and extensive experience. Prospective climatologists often complete courses in climatology, atmospheric science, meteorology, physics, mathematics, astronomy, and oceanography. Many aspiring climatologists complete internships while pursuing their education to gain practical experience in the field. Most employers provide some on the job training to enable new climatologists to learn the policies and procedures. Climatologists must complete continuing education throughout their careers to keep their skills current and stay up to date with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a climatologist?

Employment of climatologists is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 15% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The ever-changing climate and increased demand for research on weather and climate patterns will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good with strong competition. Climatologists with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do climatologists make?

As of April 2010, the average annual salary for climatologists is $56,000; average annual climatologist salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a climatologist is a great choice for individuals with a strong interest in climatology. Climatologists must have a solid understanding of the concepts and practices of studying a variety of climate patterns. Patience, perseverance, detail orientation, and critical thinking are necessary characteristics. Climatologists must have good communication and interpersonal skills and ability to present their research findings to a variety of people. They must be able to work independently as well as part of a team.

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