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Atmospheric Sciences Major

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Atmospheric Sciences

652 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
238 Master's Degrees Annually
#184 in Popularity
$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
Bachelor’s Degree 652
Master’s Degree 238
Doctor’s Degree 154
Basic Certificate 26
Graduate Certificate 2

What Atmospheric Sciences Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, meteorology majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Meteorology Majors

Meteorology majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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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

meteorology majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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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 Bachelor’s Degree in Atmospheric Sciences?

652 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
41% Percent Women
19% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 652 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric sciences and meteorology in 2019, making it rank #184 in popularity. This major tends to be male dominated. About 59% 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 Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 17
Black or African American 25
Hispanic or Latino 49
White 498
International Students 15
Other Races/Ethnicities 48

Geographic Diversity

Meteorology appeals to people across the globe. About 2.3% 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?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in meteorology have a median salary of $31,650 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $29,775 (25th percentile) and $32,625 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to meteorology so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $95,580 to $139,680 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to meteorology. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

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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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.

Find out what the typical degree level is for meteorology careers below.

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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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