AMS AND UCAR SALARY SURVEYS

A 1993 salary survey carried out by the AMS (http://www.ametsoc.org/AMS) provides a starting point for a look at pay within the meteorological profession. Salaries have increased by an estimated 10 to 20 percent since the survey was made, but as a point of comparison for different market segments, the results are instructive.

For meteorologists working in the private sector, the mode--or most common--salary range was $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Adjusted for inflation, the current (1998) range is likely $45,000 to $60,000 per year. The private sector category encompasses many different types of meteorologists, of course, not only forecasters. Included under the private meteorology banner are air quality specialists, forensic meteorologists, individuals involved in environmental studies, and researchers working for corporations, just to name a few.

Government meteorologists, the 1993 survey found, had a broad salary mode, ranging from $40,000 to $60,000. Updated estimates from the NWS indicate the range is now $45,000 to $70,000.

Forecasters in the radio/television business had a lower mode, $30,000 to $40,000, which probably reflected the relatively large number of weathercasters working in small and medium markets. Salaries for forecasters working in the media business, as mentioned earlier, span a tremendous range. Another strong mode was found in the over $100,000 category.

Most meteorologists employed at universities and colleges fell into the $30,000 to $40,000 range. This range probably accounted for a relatively large number of research associates. A 1995 survey by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (http://www.ucar.edu/) found the following average salaries for professors in the atmospheric science field: assistant, mid-40s; associate, upper 50s; full, low 80s.

Given the ranges of salaries as adjusted for inflation, most individuals in the atmospheric sciences are earning a respectable income. A significant number, in fact, are earning what could be considered a lucrative salary.

Overall, a Ph.D. or master's will increase your career earning power relative to a B.S. A recent U.S. Census Bureau analysis showed that lifetime earnings for an individual with a Ph.D. average a little over $2 million; for a person with a master's, a little over a million and a half; and for someone with a B.S., a bit under a million and a half.

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