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Atmospheric Sciences

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Atmospheric Sciences Major

1,157 yearly degrees
#246 in popularity
$102,000 median salary

Atmospheric sciences and meteorology is a major that typically falls into the Physical Sciences category.

There are 1 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in meteorology, 76 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 45 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 41 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Meteorology Degree?

This is a less frequently chosen major. Only 700 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric sciences and meteorology in 2017. This major tends to be male dominated. About 65.6% of recent graduates are men.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 1.8%
  • Black or African American: 4.7%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 5.5%
  • White: 80.3%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 1.7%
  • Other Races: 6%
Atmospheric Sciences Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in meteorology. About 1.7% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending meteorology majors to the U.S. are China, India and Taiwan.

What Will You Learn as an Atmospheric Sciences Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to meteorology to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Meteorology Majors

A major in meteorology should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Atmospheric Sciences Majors

Skills for Meteorology Majors

A major in meteorology prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

Important Skills for Atmospheric Sciences Majors

Abilities for Meteorology Majors

A major in meteorology will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

Important Abilities for meteorology Majors

What Can You Do With a Meteorology Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with meteorology:

Careers Related to Atmospheric Sciences
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors



Atmospheric and Space Scientists



Natural Sciences Managers



Atmospheric Sciences Major Salary

Average salaries range from $96,000 to $140,000 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, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Meteorology Major  ( 96000 to 140000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Atmospheric Sciences Major Jobs

Some careers associated with meteorology may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

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

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Atmospheric Sciences
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Atmospheric Sciences Programs

There are 76 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric sciences and meteorology, with 1 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Many learners are drawn to online programs due to the ease of use and flexibility. Students should be warned that those who enroll in online programs can take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to drop out.

Is an Atmospheric Sciences Major Worth It?

The median salary for a meteorology grad is $102,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 162% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,259,800 after 20 years!

atmospheric sciences and meteorology salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Liam Gumley via License

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