The Detroit Post
Friday, 03 December, 2021

Do Weather Presenters Have Qualifications

Carole Stephens
• Monday, 04 January, 2021
• 7 min read

Many meteorological job openings, especially those with local television newscasts, have low educational requirements for prospective hires. This level of education equips you to read weather data proficiently, but it does not provide you with a fluid understanding of the workings of the atmosphere.

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They only strive to inform the public about basic weather conditions in the near future, rather than explaining how it all works. Instead, they just collect forecast information from sources like the National Weather Service, and then add some local footage of a flooded road or kids playing in the sprinklers.

To understand the workings of the atmosphere and compose intelligent forecasts yourself, you need a higher level of education. Some better television meteorologists also possess this level of education, and executives in many of the large news markets such as those in Los Angeles and New York require it.

Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists earned a median annual salary of $92,460 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. I guess my point is that people with degrees in meteorology, or similar, are best qualified for such positions, presenting skills aside.

However, the idea what anyone with a meteorology degree can be a weather presenter makes no more sense than saying anyone with a media studies degree can be. For every Sam Champion who makes millions forecasting the weather on television, there are hundreds of others slaving away for middle-class wages.

There are also ethical concerns about calling someone a meteorologist when the person lacks the proper education and training. Because women have, for the most part, broken the glass ceiling when it comes to weather reporting, the more modern term for those who predict the weather on TV is “weather caster.” Because most of them are broadcast personalities and not academic meteorologists, they are more likely to have a communications degree and to have studied elocution and public speaking.

In addition to a communications degree for weather forecasters, many institutions also provide specialized education and training for student who want to be true meteorologists but also want to go into broadcasting as a career. Some meteorologists who relish thrills become storm chasers and regularly inform the public about the seriousness of weather events like tornadoes and hailstorms.

Whether you want to sit by a vast touchscreen at the National Weather Service and analyze trends in climate change, pursue a communications degree for weather forecasters and become the next “TXL Storming’ Norman,” or channel your inner “Quincy” to assist law enforcement or the courts, the study of meteorology provides the way to achieve your goals. They report on local, state, national and international weather on broadcast and cable TV.

The job typically requires a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science or a related field. Important skills for the profession include public speaking, writing, math and critical thinking.

They typically appear with news teams, though they might also do research for TV presenters who handle weather reports. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 7 percent of the 10,400 jobs in meteorology are found in radio and TV broadcasting.

Meteorologists working in broadcast television make a median salary of $88,850 per year according to the United States Department of Labor. In a small market, you also may perform multiple roles, such as that of regular newscasters, so station owners can save money.

The BLS sees jobs for all atmospheric scientists, including those on TV, increasing 12 percent. This is faster than average compared to a 7 percent expected growth rate for all jobs in all industries.

And if some folk regard my shift from serious newsroom journo to weather girlie as a move from a higher to a lower level, then they are mistaken. I have always been a bit of a news junkie and after leaving Jesus College Oxford (I failed to tune in to the joys of research and never completed my B Lit), I was set on a highbrow journalistic path.

I was taken on as a researcher at Cardiff Broadcasting Company, the local Ill station, and then moved to Television, becoming a researcher for the nightly news program Wales Today. I worked for a couple of years as a presenter for Channel 4 in Wales, S4C, and then moved to London.

I produced and presented packages for TV clients throughout the world. One day I might be doing an item on the threatened closure of London Zoo, the next a piece on a successful West End show.

I have never been ambitious in the slightest, never had an overwhelming desire to be a “presenter” and have always gone with the flow. Surprisingly, I didn’t receive any training before being thrust in front of the Great British public.

Looking back, I wore some pretty funky clothes that didn’t quite suit popping up post Sir Tree on the Ten o’clock. Magnificent in real life, but on the Weather, I looked like a supermarket check-out girl.

And here I am, twenty years on, launching my own weather website, still pointing at clouds on ITV and still loving the job. Throughout the years I’ve worked with some very big names, from Tom Jones and Sir David Frost to Ant & Dec and Catherine Jenkins.

I shall be happy when they start calling Michael Fish a Weather Boy and when they dare put a female with as big a belly as Bill Giles on the National Weather ! I got a bit fed up with the palaver of getting a fast and simple forecast for my area, so devised my own website.

It’s also got reams of my TV stuff on it, but not alas the famous incident of spitting out the chewing gum! It remains my most triumphant moment in my twenty-year career.

I actually got caught live on the ITV lunchtime news vigorously chewing gum. Curiously, it landed bang in the middle of the map and remained there throughout the two-minute forecast.

Mind you, it taught me a lifetime lesson in being prepared in a live situation. I shall never forget the afternoon spent on a housing estate near Heathrow feeding sausages to an invisible dog.

When I ventured to the highly respected director that it must look semi-pornographic, he replied that there was nothing semi about it….!! For someone truly interested in the subject, with good English and scientific skills and happy to be a TEAM member, it’s a BRILLIANT career choice.

She was named Best TV Weather Presenter 2014 and has won the award six times. Then, one day, the company that I was working for lost the franchise, so it was back to square one.

I put a show reel together and my agent arranged a meeting with the Weather Channel. I took to it like a duck to water because it was a new challenge, I fell I love with the weather there and then and was lucky enough to be offered the job.

My favorite thing to do when I came home from school was to jump on my bike with my sister and go to the beach, so the weather was really important to me. I stayed with them for a couple of years and then moved back to the UK when they started a channel here.

So even though you might have done your exams early on, we have further courses we go on and because of the nature of the weather, it's always changing and so is the job. I come in each morning at five o'clock, there is a conference call with the chief forecaster from the Met Office, who in our terms is God.

So we can discuss these things with experts in their fields, we've got the crème de la crème and even in the office, I'm mixing with superb forecasters, who are all broadcast meteorologists, that's our real title. Because we work into and out of live news programs, durations can change there can be breaking news and you've always got to make it sound like you were supposed to end there, not suddenly crash out of the weather in the middle of a sentence.

When I'm in the conference call at 0500 am, they are busily doing my hair, so there is not a minute of wasted time. I'm always exceedingly flattered when I win an award and to be honest I don't expect to because I certainly don't think I'm the best at what I do.

I'm much more conversational now, you reach a stage where it feels like the audience are your gang, so you're talking to your friends basically. I love my job and I do get to go to some fabulous places; two weeks at Wimbledon in the summer, Buckingham Palace, Royal Ascot, I get to go all over the shop and see things that other people don't get to see so close up.

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