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Jobs Outlook: Atmospheric Scientists




Employment of atmospheric scientists is projected to increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. The National Weather Service has completed an extensive modernization of its weather forecasting equipment and finished all hiring of meteorologists needed to staff the upgraded stations. The Service has no plans to increase the number of weather stations or the number of meteorologists in existing stations. Employment of meteorologists in other Federal agencies is expected to remain stable.

On the other hand, job opportunities for atmospheric scientists in private industry are expected to be better than for those in the Federal Government over the 2002-12 period. As research leads to continuing improvements in weather forecasting, demand should grow for private weather consulting firms to provide more detailed information than has formerly been available, especially to weather-sensitive industries. Farmers, commodity investors, radio and television stations, and utilities, transportation, and construction firms can greatly benefit from additional weather information more closely targeted to their needs than the general information provided by the National Weather Service. Additionally, research on seasonal and other long-range forecasting is yielding positive results, which should spur demand for more atmospheric scientists to interpret these forecasts and advise weather-sensitive industries. However, because many customers for private weather services are in industries sensitive to fluctuations in the economy, the sales and growth of private weather services depend on the health of the economy.

There will continue to be demand for atmospheric scientists to analyze and monitor the dispersion of pollutants into the air to ensure compliance with Federal environmental regulations outlined in the Clean Air Act of 1990, but related employment increases are expected to be small. Opportunities in broadcasting are rare and highly competitive, making for very few job openings.