In general, the meteorologist who works most closely with aviation is an operational, or synoptic, meteorologist (as contrasted to the meteorologist working in theoretical or applied meteorological research). He or she is the forecaster who provides the day-to-day, hour-to-hour observations, analyses, forecasts, warnings, and advice to pilots, airport operators and airlines. She or he reports weather conditions expected at airports, current conditions, and en route forecasts.
National Weather Service meteorologists play a key role in providing aviation weather information. Flight and weather are so interrelated that many people in aviation look upon the meteorologist as a member of the aviation team. Thus, the meteorologist deserves mention in any discussion of vocations in aviation, even though these functions are not entirely for the benefit of the aviation community.
The meteorologist's main tasks involve the interpretation of meteorological data provided by weather observations and instruments. At a small weather station he or she may carry on numerous functions such as: making outside weather observations, reading and recording data from weather instruments, checking weather data coming in via a machine, drawing weather maps, plotting the weather, providing forecasts, and advising pilots and other interested parties. At larger stations, the meteorologist may specialize in one or more of these duties, relying to some extent upon computerized data in order to produce a forecast. She or he sends forecasts via teletype or telephone to Flight Service Stations, airline dispatch offices, airports, and to other consumers of weather information. Often the meteorologist advises pilots personally when assisting the pilot in drawing up a flight plan.
The meteorologist works indoors, sitting or standing at map tables while working on weather maps and charts. He or she reads data from weather instruments such as anemometers, thermometers, barometers, theodolites, ceilometers, radiosondes, weather balloons, etc. The meteorologist is able to operate a teletypewriter. At times, she or he may be required to work outdoors for short periods, checking weather instruments and making observations. He or she may work alone at a small station or with other meteorologists and meteorological technicians at a large station. At airport Weather Service stations, he or she meets private, business, and airline pilots. Meteorologists usually work a forty-hour week. Overtime is required when weather conditions deteriorate. Shift work is required when a station is open 24 hours a day. They may be required to relocate to fill staffing requirements at another station or to advance in grade.
Typical Requirements and/or Experience
One of the following two is required:
A full course of study, leading to a bachelor's degree at an accredited college or university which has included or been supplemented by 20 semester hours in meteorology (including six semester hours in weather analysis and forecasting and six semester hours in dynamic meteorology), and in addition, differential and integral calculus and six semester hours in college physics. At least 20 semester hours in meteorology at an accredited college or university which has six semester hours in weather analysis and forecasting and six semester hours in dynamic meteorology. Also, differential and integral calculus and six semester hours in college physics, plus additional appropriate education or technical experience which when combined with the education prescribed above, will total four years of education or education and experience. This pre-professional background must be of such quality that it provides a body of knowledge and abilities comparable to that normally acquired through the successful completion of a full course of study described in paragraph one above.
More than twenty universities offer bachelor degrees in meteorology or equivalent, with others offering a major in meteorology. Training as a meteorological technician is obtainable while on active duty with the armed services or at some junior/community colleges or technical institutions. The Weather Service operates a Technical Training Center in Kansas City for the purpose of upgrading technicians.
Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.
It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.
Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:
All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;
Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;
All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;
Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.
Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.
Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.
EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.
Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/
Wages and Benefits
Most Federal Civil Service employees in the aviation field are covered by the General Schedule and their salaries vary according to their grade level (GS-1 through GS-18). Within each of the grades provided in the General Schedule, provision is made for periodic pay increases based on an acceptable level of performance. With an acceptable level of competence, the waiting period of advancement to steps two, three and four is one year, steps five, six and seven is two years, steps eight, nine and ten is three years. Trainees are paid while learning their jobs.The salary ranges from an annual starting grade of GS-5 to a GS-15. The starting salary and grade is determined by the amount of education and experience.
Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.
Where the jobs are and who hires
The largest employer of Federal Government meteorologists is the National Weather Service. Several thousand Weather Service meteorologists work at approximately 300 stations scattered throughout the 50 states, in Puerto Rico, in Arctic regions, at Wake Island, and at other Pacific Ocean sites. Major Weather Service Stations are located at airports or in large cities. A smaller number of Federal Government meteorologists work for the Air Force, Navy, Army, the FAA, NASA, and the U.S. Forest Service.
The Weather Service also employs meteorological technicians to assist meteorologists. Most of the job vacancies for this position are filled by applicants who have received their technical training during active duty in the Armed Forces. The meteorological technician performs semiprofessional and scientific work, calibrating and using instruments for taking various kinds of measurements, observing, recording, computing, processing, classifying, and disseminating weather data.
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Opportunities for Advancement
Promotion to higher grades depends upon education, ability, work performance, and upon openings in jobs at the higher grades. In-grade pay increases are made on the basis of experience and satisfactory performance of the job. With an increase in grade comes increased responsibilities as assistant chief or chief of a weather station or region. A few high administrative jobs are available as vacancies occur.
Outlook for the Future
The science of meteorology is expanding and with it increased occupational opportunities. The Weather Service expects to hire at least 100 meteorologists with a BA. degree each year to fill new positions and vacancies. Opportunities for military careers in meteorology are excellent and competent military meteorologist officers are given opportunities to receive advanced degrees at government expense. At present, the number of qualified students obtaining degrees in meteorology are fewer than can supply future expected demands. Although the demand is small, so few are entering the occupation that job opportunities are available for the qualified applicant.
To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.