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Atmospheric Sciences Major

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Atmospheric Sciences

238 Master's Degrees Annually
154 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#196 in Popularity (Master's)
$101,890 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Atmospheric Sciences Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many atmospheric sciences and meteorology graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 238
Doctor’s Degree 154
Graduate Certificate 2

What Atmospheric Sciences Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to meteorology and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Meteorology Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in meteorology should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Geography - Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

Skills for Meteorology Majors

The following list of skills has been highlighted as some of the most essential for careers related to meteorology:

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  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Abilities for Meteorology Majors

Meteorology majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Atmospheric Sciences Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with meteorology:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Atmospheric and Space Scientists 12.5% $94,110
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors 9.9% $90,860
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Atmospheric Sciences?

238 Master's Degrees Annually
45% Percent Women
9% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This major tends to be male dominated. About 55% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of meteorology majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Meteorology Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 5
Black or African American 2
Hispanic or Latino 8
White 160
International Students 44
Other Races/Ethnicities 19

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Meteorology. About 18.5% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • India
  • Taiwan
  • Kuwait
  • South Korea

How Much Do Atmospheric Sciences Majors Make?

Salaries According to BLS

Meteorology majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $95,580 to $139,680 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for an Atmospheric Sciences Major  ( 95580 to 139680 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with meteorology require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to meteorology have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Some College Courses 1.2%
Bachelor’s Degree 25.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 4.7%
Master’s Degree 33.4%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 1.5%
Doctoral Degree 24.8%
Post-Doctoral Training 9.4%

Online Atmospheric Sciences Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 111 schools offered some type of atmospheric sciences and meteorology program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 15 1
Certificate (1-2 years) 0 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 6 1
Bachelor’s Degree 3 0
Post-Baccalaureate 15 1
Master’s Degree 46 0
Post-Master’s 1 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 42 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in Atmospheric Sciences Worth It?

The median salary for a meteorology grad is $101,890 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 155% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,239,800 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to meteorology.

Major Number of Grads
Chemistry 22,156
Physics 13,927
Geological & Earth Sciences 9,522
General Physical Sciences 4,527
Astronomy & Astrophysics 1,168
Materials Sciences 681
Other Physical Science 503

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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