Within the broader field of Earth sciences, climatologists study long-term weather and temperature patterns in order to analyze the planet’s climate. Climatologists use meteorological data such as temperature, wind speed, and precipitation over the course of time (typically 30-year cycles) to study trends, understand causes, and make predictions. They are analyzers, explorers and innovators whose work is crucial to sustaining and preserving the world’s ecosystems. Strong writing and speaking skills and complex problem-solving and analytical skills are crucial, as well as an understanding of software for graphics and map creation and scientific data analysis tools.
Climatologists might be called upon to wear many different hats – analyzing and interpreting data from satellite imagery and computer models as well as historical climate data to predict future climate trends. They can also conduct hands-on research in the field, taking water or soil samples and analyzing and reporting on data. They may advise policy-makers on environmental topics, like climate change and air quality, or present their research at seminars or conferences to the international scientific community. Climatologists are also able to make positive change by working with businesses to minimize their environmental impact.
Climatologists can choose lab, office or field work, or a position combining all three. Most often, climatologists find work at academic institutions or at local, state, or federal agencies. The minimum education required to get a job as a climatologist is a bachelor’s degree in climatology, meteorology, or atmospheric science with a concentration in climatology; if you are interested in research, a master’s or PhD degree is usually required. Job prospects are higher than average for climatologists, with a projected 8% growth rate by 2028.