My Child’s Path led me to another awesome experience… being interviewed on Good Day Maine! Sarah Long was nice enough to invite me on the show to talk about the site and then agreed to discuss her career, Meteorology. Thanks, Sarah!
Q: What is the title of your profession?
A: I am a Meteorologist
Q: What do you do?
A: For the past 10 years I’ve been a broadcast meteorologist. This means I look at the conditions of the atmosphere along with forecast models which help to predict what the atmosphere might do over the next 1 day, 3 days up to 10 days. I put together my forecast and then tell people watching the news, looking at the web or listening on the radio what kind of weather they can expect.
Q: Have you always worked in this field?
A: I have always been a meteorologist (since graduating college), but I haven’t always been a broadcast meteorologist.
Q: If no, what was your prior profession and what made you change your profession?
A: My first job as a meteorologist was working at the top of a mountain measuring the weather and researching the atmosphere. For four years I worked and lived on the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire at the Mount Washington Observatory. I would live on the summit for a week at a time taking weather observation, using instruments to help conduct research on wind, icing and air quality. Mt. Washington is known for having some of the worst weather in the world, with lots of wind, ice, snow and bitter cold temperatures – the perfect place for a meteorologist who likes extreme weather!
After 4 years I still enjoyed a lot of the job of being an observer, but what I enjoyed most was giving my forecast over the radio, so I decided to try broadcast meteorology. Also, working on the summit of Mt. Washington meant living on the summit every other week for the whole year; I was ready for a schedule where I could be home every night.
Q: Why did you choose this profession?
A: I chose to become a meteorologist because I love the outdoors, the environment and weather extremes. I look forward to powerful thunderstorms in the summertime and snowstorms during the winter months. When I was deciding what career I wanted to choose I thought it was so cool that I could study meteorology and take something that’s a hobby and make it into something I could get paid to do!
Q: How would you define your profession?
A: Ever changing, exciting, it allows me to connect with all sorts of people. Who isn’t affected by the weather? Everyone is!
Q: Did you go to college or a trade school for this profession?
A: Yes, I attended university.
Q: How long did you go to school? Where? What was your degree in?
A: I attended University of Massachusetts, Lowell for 4 years to earn my Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology.
Q: Do you use your degree in your job? In what way?
A: Yes, every day I use the fundamentals, or the foundation of what I learned while I was in school. To forecast the weather I have to understand how the atmosphere works, I started learning about that while at school and every day while at work I learn more and more about how the atmosphere behaves.
Q: Can your degree be used as a basis for any other professions? What types?
A: Some meteorologists use their forecasting skills to help oil companies or to help big farms and food companies. Other meteorologists help out in court cases, for instance, if there is an accident on an icy street and someone is sued then a meteorologist may need to show up in court to testify what the weather conditions were that day and whether or not it was icy.
Q: Does your job require continued education? What type? How much?
A: My job is affected by technology – I use several computers every day so when technology changes I am required to learn new things. There is also a lot about the atmosphere that we don’t understand, which is part of why I like my profession so much – there is always more to learn. I could go back to school and early a Master’s or Doctorate in Atmospheric Science.
Q: Does your job require a certification or board testing?
A: There is a professional organization of meteorology called the American Meteorological Society (AMS) that awards certifications and Seals of Approval based on your qualifications/experience/job performance as a meteorologist. The latest certification I’ve earned from the AMS required a panel to review on-air forecasts, a review of my resume & transcripts from university and a written exam to test knowledge of the atmosphere and other sciences.
Q: What is a day in the life of your job? Does it change day to day? Do you work with the public?
A: There are three meteorologists on our weather team at WGME, and I am the morning meteorologist. I arrive at work between 2:30AM and 3AM each morning to forecast and then present my forecast on live television from 5AM to 9AM. Sometimes I also give my forecast on our noon news program as well. While I’m in the weather office I answer phone calls & emails from people who have questions about the weather & give presentations to school groups and other organizations.
Q: Does your profession require travel? How much?
A: Not regularly. Every year I attend a conference where I learn about some of the new things going on in the field of meteorology.
Q: What is the typical schedule/hours?
A: In my field of broadcast meteorology there are some odd schedules. I arrive at work often before 3AM Monday through Friday. Monday and Tuesday I have long days where I am at work until almost 1PM and on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I leave by 10AM in the morning.
Our evening meteorologist arrives at work by 3PM and goes home around midnight each night. One of the reasons I like my job is because I don’t want to work a regular 9 to 5 schedule.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: My favorite part of my job each day is coming up with what I call my “weather story.” Once I have my forecast together I come up with a story in my head about how the weather is going to look and feel and how I can tell that story to viewers & listeners.
Q: What do you dislike about your job?
A: Even though I’m happy to not have a 9 to 5 schedule, getting up at 2 o’clock in the morning can be really hard.
Q: What advice would you give to a child/student that is considering this profession?
A: While you’re in high school make sure that you concentrate on taking some core science and math classes like chemistry, physics and calculus. If you go on to study meteorology in college you’ll need to take these courses for several semesters. Do you know someone who is a meteorologist? Ask them about their job and if you can shadow them for a day. If you don’t know a meteorologist you can email one at a local television station or at the local National Weather Service office and ask them a few questions you may have. There are so many resources online as well.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same profession?
Q: Are you having fun?
A: Absolutely. When I stop having fun it’s time for me to move on to my next challenge!
Q: Do you receive a pension or have a company sponsored 401k?
A: I have a company sponsored 401k.