Due to the COVID-19 pandemic some of our job opportunities information may have changed. We’re working on updating our job profiles as soon as possible.

Meteorologist

Matapae Huarere

Alternative titles for this job

Meteorologists study the atmosphere to understand and predict weather and climate.

Pay

New meteorologists usually earn

$45K-$60K per year

Meteorologists with experience usually earn

$60K-$165K per year

Source: MetService, 2020; NIWA, 2020 and Glassdoor, 2020.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a meteorologist are average due to stable numbers of people in the role.

Pay

Pay for meteorologists varies depending on skills, experience, and where they work.

Pay at MetService

At MetService, where most meteorologists work:

  • New meteorologists usually start on $45,000 to $60,000 a year.
  • After four to seven years' experience they usually earn between $60,000 and $90,000. 
  • Senior meteorologists with 8 to 10 years' experience can earn from $90,000 to $120,000. 

Meteorologists at MetService also earn extra allowances for doing night and weekend shifts.

Pay at research institutes and universities 

At research institutes and universities, meteorologists usually earn between $70,000 and $165,000 a year. 

Sources: MetService, 2020; NIWA, 2020; and Glassdoor, 2020.  

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Meteorologists may do some or all of the following:

  • monitor and study weather systems and atmospheric patterns using satellites and radars
  • study and predict weather conditions and climate trends using computer forecasting models
  • prepare weather maps and forecasts for the media, and shipping and airline companies
  • design experiments and equipment to measure air quality and composition, ozone, greenhouse gases and pollution
  • be involved in public awareness programmes about the weather
  • supervise the work of people in other technical roles 
  • teach and supervise students at universities
  • write up results of experiments and publish work in scientific journals.

Skills and knowledge

Meteorologists need to have:

  • knowledge of atmospheric physics, chemistry, meteorology, physical geography and maths to understand weather, cloud systems, and past and present climates
  • an understanding of what affects the weather in certain regions
  • skill in performing experiments and operating scientific equipment.

Working conditions

Meteorologists:

  • usually work eight-hour shifts at MetService 
  • usually work regular business hours at universities or research institutes, but may work longer hours in the field
  • mostly work in laboratories and offices, but may work outdoors when doing fieldwork
  • may travel nationally and overseas to do research, attend conferences or work with other scientists.

What's the job really like?

Tahlia Crabtree

Tahlia Crabtree

Meteorologist

Watching out for unusual weather patterns

“It’s a fascinating career,” says meteorologist Tahlia Crabtree. “Every day the weather will present a new problem for you to think about."

Tahlia is part of a team that writes MetService weather forecasts.

“We also look into quirky weather patterns we notice. Weird clouds on a satellite for example, could be useful for an aviation forecast."

Curiosity about rainbows led to a career   

“I was always curious about atmospheric phenomena, wondering why clouds are different shapes and how rainbows form. This led me to read books on physics and maths, taking up weather related projects at high school, and doing a Masters in Meteorology."

Juggling different weather forecasting tasks

“Meteorology is an applied science and involves different tasks. You could be drawing a weather map, thinking about the forecast in three days’ time while updating the current forecast, as well as tracking a thunderstorm moving towards a city.

“I also do video weather presentations, and provide weather information to the public and the media. My goal is to do more of this communications work."

Tahlia Crabtree is of Ngāiterangi, Ngātiawa and Ngāpuhi descent. 

Entry requirements

Requirements for meteorologists

To become a meteorologist you need to complete a trainee meteorologist programme and gain a Master of Meteorology.

You need to have a Bachelor of Science in maths or physics to be accepted into the programme, but other majors are considered if there is enough maths and physics included.

MetService and Victoria University of Wellington oversee the traineeship programme.  

Requirements for researchers in meteorology

To become a meteorology or climatology researcher at universities or research organisations, you usually need a Masters or Doctorate in physics, chemistry, maths, geography, meteorology or a related area such as atmospheric physics.

Secondary education

NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include English, physics, chemistry, maths and geography. 

Personal requirements

Meteorologists need to be:

  • good at problem solving and planning
  • curious and observant 
  • good communicators with an ability to write reports and research papers
  • organised and able to work to tight schedules
  • persistent, patient and motivated
  • able to work well in a team.

Meteorologists working in research need to have good investigative and analytical skills. 

You have to be able to meet deadlines because people need your forecasts to make their own decisions – the media, boaties sailing the Cook Strait or airports before a plane takes off.


Photo: Tahlia Crabtree

Tahlia Crabtree

Meteorologist

Useful experience

Useful experience for meteorologists includes:

  • practical work experience in the environment, physical science or geography
  • weather-related interests such as surfing, gliding, flying, skiing, tramping, diving and fishing.

Physical requirements

Meteorologists need to be reasonably fit and enjoy working outdoors because some field work may be involved.  

 

Find out more about training

MetService
(04) 470 0700  - enquiries@metservice.com - www.metservice.com
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)
0800 746 464 - enquiries@niwa.co.nz - www.niwa.co.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Chances best doing a traineeship at MetService

Opportunities to become a meteorologist in New Zealand are average due to low turnover and high competition for vacancies.

Your best chance of getting a weather forecasting job is through a traineeship at MetService.

According to the Census, 168 meteorologists worked in New Zealand in 2018. 

MetService and Crown research institutes main employers

Most meteorologists work for MetService or Crown research institutes such as the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

A small number may be employed by:

  • government agencies such as the Civil Aviation Authority or Ministry for the Environment
  • research consultancies 
  • regional and city councils
  • state-owned enterprises, such as Meridian Energy
  • universities.

Sources

  • Renwick, J, professor of physical geography, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington, careers.govt.nz interview, May 2020.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019. 
  • Webster, C, meteorological capability manager, meteorological advice and training, MetService, careers.govt.nz interview, May 2020.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Meteorologists at MetService may progress to work in:

  • severe weather forecasting
  • management positions such as project or team leader
  • training roles
  • computer modelling
  • marketing and consulting.

Meteorologists working as researchers may progress to senior research scientist, policy analyst or managerial roles. 

Meteorologists can specialise as climatologists, who study ozone and air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, weather hazards and agricultural productivity, and renewable energy.

Tahlia Crabtree at her workstation looking at satellite images on computer

Tahlia Crabtree observing weather patterns she'll use to write a forecast (Photo: MetService)

Last updated 4 August 2020