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Related roles: Climate Scientist,Meteorologist,Atmospheric Scientist,Environmental Scientist,Climate Change Analyst,Paleoclimatologist


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Climate Scientist, Meteorologist, Atmospheric Scientist, Environmental Scientist, Climate Change Analyst, Paleoclimatologist

Job Description

Earth is ~4.5 billion years old, according to scientists’ best estimates. Through that long history, the planet’s climate has changed considerably—and continues to do so!

Climatologists are scientists who study these changes to predict future changes and upcoming weather patterns. They use statistical methods, computer models, and data from satellites, weather stations, and remote sensors to analyze trends in temperature, precipitation, wind, and other weather conditions over long periods. 

Their valuable research improves our understanding of how both natural processes and human activities impact global and regional climates so that governmental agencies and commercial organizations can respond accordingly, plan ahead, and take preventative actions, as needed. 

Note, there are many different types of Climatologists, including:

  • Applied Climatologists: Use climatic data to solve practical problems.
  • Bioclimatologists: Explore the interaction between the climate and living organisms. 
  • Climatic Data Analysts: Specialize in handling, analyzing, and interpreting datasets.
  • Climatology Educators: Teach climatology and related subjects.
  • Microclimatologists: Focus on small-scale climatic variations.
  • Paleoclimatologists: Investigate past climates.
  • Physical Climatologists: Study the physical processes that control the atmosphere.
  • Synoptic Climatologists: Analyze large-scale climate patterns and phenomena.
Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Working in a sector devoted to raising awareness of environmental issues
  • Potentially helping to improve the quality of life for everyone by informing policy-making
  • Promoting conservation efforts and encouraging sustainable practices
2020 Employment
2033 Projected Employment
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule

  • Climatologists work full-time with most work done indoors, but may need to do field work, visiting remote sensor sites and weather stations.

Typical Duties

  • Study long-term weather patterns and trends; research the impact of human activities on climate
  • Conduct fieldwork to gather samples or observe weather phenomena directly
  • Set up and maintain weather stations, take soil samples, and collect atmospheric data
  • Visit specific sites to understand localized climate impacts, like areas affected by drought, flood, or other climate-related events
  • Travel, as needed, to locations such as polar regions, forests, mountains, or oceans, to collect unique data
  • Work with data from satellite imagery, weather stations, and climate databases
  • Analyze historical climate data to understand past changes; use computer models to predict future climatic changes
  • Collaborate with scientists in related fields, such as meteorology or oceanography
  • Engage with interdisciplinary teams to understand the broader impacts of climate change on ecosystems and societies
  • Publish findings in scientific journals and present at conferences
  • Discuss findings and attend or present at conferences
  • Communicate complex climate concepts to the public and stakeholders
  • Advise policymakers on climate-related issues and potential mitigation strategies
  • Contribute to international climate assessments and reports

Additional Responsibilities

  • Keep up-to-date with research findings, read scientific journals, and write papers 
  • Stay updated on the latest technologies and methodologies in climatology
  • Work on developing or refining tools for better climate modeling and prediction
  • Collaborate with urban planners to design climate-resilient cities
  • Assess the effects of climate change on biodiversity and conservation efforts
  • Analyze the role of the oceans in climate regulation and changes
  • Develop strategies for sustainable water resource management 
  • Advise agricultural sectors on anticipated changes and potential impacts on crop yields
  • Collaborate with engineers to improve technologies for carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas reduction
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills

  • Analytical 
  • Collaboration
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Detailed-oriented
  • Environmental mindset
  • Ethical
  • Flexibility
  • Integrity
  • Objectivity
  • Patience 
  • Perseverance
  • Problem-solving
  • Project management 
  • Quality assurance
  • Research-oriented
  • Safety-minded 
  • Sound judgment and reasoning
  • Strong communication skills

Technical Skills

  • Advanced data analysis and interpretation
  • Atmospheric physics and chemistry
  • Carbon cycle and greenhouse gas interactions
  • Climate database management; climate data processing software like MATLAB or R
  • Climate indices and indicators; prediction models and tools
  • Computer modeling and simulation proficiency
  • Fieldwork and sampling techniques
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) expertise
  • Global and regional climate dynamics
  • Knowledge of meteorological instruments and equipment
  • Oceanography and glaciology
  • Paleoclimatology methods
  • Remote sensing and satellite data interpretation
  • Statistical analysis
Different Types of Organizations
  • Federal agencies
  • Regional and state climate centers
  • State environmental protection departments and agencies
  • Educational institutions
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
Expectations and Sacrifices

Climatologists are at the forefront of understanding our planet’s climate dynamics. With pressing concerns related to climate change, their expertise is highly sought-after. They analyze vast datasets to offer insights on historical and future climate patterns. 

They’re also tasked with translating complex findings for policymakers and the public. Thus, they help to shape environmental conservation, urban planning, and global climate strategies.

To conduct field studies they have to travel to remote locations for extended periods, leading to separations from friends and loved ones. In addition, their research can require long hours of data analysis, which can get tiring and monotonous. 

Current Trends

One prominent trend in this field is the increased use of sophisticated computational models and tools. Combined with massive amounts of data from satellites, ground-based observations, and ocean buoys, these tools empower climatologists to make more accurate predictions about future climate scenarios. 

Another trend in climatology is the multidisciplinary approach to understanding climate impacts. It’s important that we recognize how weather changes affect the environment as well as our health, homes, and food supplies. 

There’s a growing emphasis on integrating findings from fields like sociology, economics, and public health into climate studies. This approach helps policymakers make more informed decisions related to dealing with our changing climate situation.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…

Climatologists might have always been fascinated by weather dynamics and the climate. From a young age, many were drawn to the sky’s wonders, from swirling clouds to seasonal changes. They are analytical and studious, traits they may have developed from any number of home or school activities! 

Education and Training Needed
  • Climatologists should hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a suitable field, such as meteorology and climatology, atmospheric sciences, environmental science, chemistry, or physics
  • Students may be able to major in one of the above subjects while minoring or specializing in climatology or climate science
  • Common undergraduate classes may include:
  1. Atmospheric Chemistry
  2. Atmospheric Thermodynamics
  3. Climate Modeling
  4. Dynamic Meteorology
  5. Environmental Science
  6. Global Climate Systems
  7. Hydrology and Water Resources
  8. Oceanography
  9. Paleoclimatology
  10. Physical Geography
  11. Remote Sensing and GIS
  12. Statistics for Earth Sciences
  • Research and academic jobs typically require a graduate degree, such as a Master’s in Atmospheric Science, or a Ph.D. in Climatology and Geographic Information Systems
  • Internships can provide valuable hands-on experiences where students can learn while working for a company or agency
  • Optional certifications are available for mid- and senior-level professionals, such as the Association of Climate Change Officers’ Climate Change Professional 
Things to look for in an University
  • Consider the cost of tuition, discounts, and local scholarship opportunities (in addition to federal aid)
  • Think about your schedule and flexibility when deciding whether to enroll in an on-campus, online, or hybrid program. Ideally, you’ll want as much hands-on practice as you can get
  • Look closely at the program’s facilities, equipment, and current research
  • Check out the program’s faculty awards and accomplishments
  • Review job placement stats and details about the program’s alumni network 
Things to do in High School and College
  • Climatologists should prepare for the rigors of college by taking English, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, sociology, statistics, and environmental science
  • Go to or participate in science fairs
  • Look for summer camps or workshops focused on environmental science, meteorology, or related fields
  • Get in the habit of reading the hard stuff! Educate yourself through scientific books, magazines, online articles, studies, and policies
  • Watch related videos on YouTube channels such as Ask a Climate Scientist and other sites to learn more about the complex climatology field and current issues
  • Participate in school and local environmental activities. Volunteer or look for part-time gigs!
  • If possible, study abroad to gain a global perspective on climate and its impacts in different regions
  • Build good working relationships with teachers and professionals in relevant fields. Take advantage of opportunities to work with professors on their research projects or start your own
  • Ask a working Climatologist if they have time to do an informational interview with you
  • Attend local climate-related meetings, discussion groups, and other events
  • Join environmental-related clubs and organizations on your campus or in your area. Grow your professional network! 
  • Decide what type of Climatologist you want to be (such as a Bioclimatologist, Climatology Educator, Paleoclimatologist, Physical Climatologist, or Synoptic Climatologist, to name a few)
Typical Roadmap
Climatologist Roadmap
How to Land your 1st job
  • Rack up as much experience as you can in school and volunteer work before applying
  • Job portals like Glassdoor, Indeed, USAJOBS, or SimplyHired are often the best starting points for finding jobs 
  • Ask your college program manager or school’s career services staff for help. They may have direct connections to local recruiters!
  • Reach out to your network to let them know you are searching for a job
  • Screen job ads carefully to ensure you meet requirements and have the right experience
  • Look for important keywords to work into your resume
  • Focus your resume on relevant work and academic experiences and skills, and try to quantify data when you can 
  • Engage in online forums and ask career advice questions
  • Ask your professors, supervisors, and peers if they’ll serve as personal references 
  • Talk with your college’s career center for help with resumes, mock interviews, and job searches 
  • Review Climatologist resume templates to get ideas for formatting and phrasing
  • Look up common interview questions to prepare for those crucial interviews 
  • Always dress appropriately for job interview success! 
  • Keep your social media presence professional, because employers look you up online
How to Climb the Ladder
  • Climatologists may start in entry-level positions and work their way up 
  • Talk to your supervisor. Let them know you are willing to knock out any professional development training your employer suggests
  • Complete advanced certifications when you have the minimum experience needed 
  • Consider pursuing advanced degrees (i.e., a master’s or Ph.D.) or courses in specialized areas
  • Stay up-to-date on climate modeling software, data analysis tools, and remote sensing technologies 
  • Publish high-quality research in peer-reviewed journals like Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Dynamics, or International Journal of Climatology
  • Stay active in professional organizations related to climatology and meteorology
  1. Establish connections with professionals in the field; attend conferences, seminars, and workshops regularly
  2. Become an expert in a difficult, in-demand niche area of climatology
  • If in academia, take on leadership and mentoring roles 
  1. Apply for research grants! The ability to secure funding is crucial in academic and research institutions
  • Participate in multi-institutional/international research projects
  • Work with both governmental and non-governmental organizations to provide expert insights 
Recommended Tools/Resources




  • Climatology, by Robert Rohli and Anthony Vega
  • Climatology: An Atmospheric Science, by John Hidore, John Oliver, et al. 
  • Global Physical Climatology, by Dennis Hartmann
Plan B

The world needs Climatologists on the frontlines, studying the climate to help us prepare for the future. However, human-caused climate change remains a topic of debate and controversy. For those who might be interested in related occupations, here’s a short list of alternatives to consider!

  • Astronomer
  • Conservation Scientist
  • Data Scientist
  • Environmental Scientist and Specialist
  • Geodetic Surveyor 
  • Geographer
  • Geographic Information Systems Technologist 
  • Geological Technician
  • Geoscientist
  • Hydrologist
  • Industrial Ecologist
  • Remote Sensing Scientist


Online Courses and Tools