Meteorologists

Unit Group 2114

Skill Type: Natural and Applied Sciences and Related Occupations

Type of work

Meteorologists analyze and forecast weather, provide consultation on atmospheric phenomena and conduct research into the processes and phenomena of weather, climate and atmosphere.

For the full and official description of this occupation according to the National Occupational Classification, visit the NOC site.

Examples of Occupational Titles

  • air quality meteorologist
  • atmospheric physicist
  • climatologist
  • hydrometeorologist
  • meteorologist
  • weather forecaster

Outlook

Job prospects in this occupation are fair.

(Update: January 2014)

Over the past few years, it is estimated that the number of meteorologists remained fairly stable. The positive impact of growth in demand for weather information and atmospheric phenomena has in fact been cancelled out by the negative impact of the state of public finances and of technological innovations. Given that the negative factors should take a little more momentum in the coming years, it is expected that their number will decrease slightly over the next few years.

Sources of employment

Given the lack of growth and the limited number of jobs, there will not be many job opportunities. They will arise mostly from the need to replace meteorologists who are retiring. The turnover rate is relatively low in this occupation. In fact, career moves are generally made within the occupation: from weather forecaster to climatologist, for instance. Experience and training in this occupation allows a certain number of meteorologists to enter training, teaching or television positions and even be promoted to management positions related to their field.

Labour pool

These opportunities are available first to graduates with a bachelor's and especially a master's in meteorology, and, to a lesser extent, to experienced meteorologists who are unemployed. Nonetheless, the unemployment rate is low in this occupation. This occupation is also accessible to immigrants, judging by the significant proportion of immigrants in the occupation at the 2006 Census (20%, compared with 12% in all occupations).

Because there are very few unemployed people in this occupation, because Quebec universities admit only a small number of students to meteorology programs, and because employers only rarely hire graduates of bachelor programs, individuals with masters degrees are very likely to find a job related to their field of study. It should be noted, however, that while the number of masters graduates remains low, it is expected to increase in the coming years, as the number of students registered in masters programs has also risen significantly. The increased competition for the few employment opportunities that arise each year could mean fewer opportunities for graduates to work in this occupation.

Industries

According to census data, in 2006 about 79% of all meteorologists worked in federal government public administration, mostly for Environment Canada. They also worked in professional, scientific and technical services (13%).

Trends

Job growth depends on the demand for information related to weather forecasting and atmospheric phenomena, on technological innovations and on public funding.

Demand for information

The demand for information related to weather forecasting and atmospheric phenomena has increased sharply over the past few years. In addition to general weather forecasts or forecasts adapted to air transport, there are a host of customized services and climatology studies. Customized services are adapted to the needs of sports and recreation (snow, rain, temperature, sunshine and wind), agricultural activities (rain, irrigation, wind, temperature, frost, drying and degree-day index), travellers (forecasts for any location in the world according to latitude and longitude), air, road and maritime transport industries, construction, mining, movies or pulp and paper, even snow removal companies, landscaping or gardening. Electronics and explosives companies are concerned with lightening forecasts or other weather events that are potentially dangerous to their staff and products. Other organizations, such as local governments, need flood forecasts and data on watering. Studies on weather patterns in the medium and long terms are used to develop engineering standards for building and maintaining dams and electrical installations, to manage hydrological elements, to study the impact of climate change on water basins and on regional climate, to evaluate greenhouse gas emissions in flood areas, and to adapt construction regulations in general (the weight of snow a roof is expected to hold, for instance). This type of demand obviously increases following catastrophes (floods, ice storms, burst dams, roof collapses, and so on). These studies also contribute to the great international debate over global warming, atmospheric pollution, acid rain, deterioration of the ozone layer and climate change and the resulting biological effects. The ever-demanding public would like more accurate forecasts and for a longer term (four or even five days). This factor has a positive effect on employment in this occupation.

Technological innovations

Technological innovations have the opposite effect on the demand for meteorologists. On the one hand, these innovations allow studies to be conducted and data to be analysed that were previously impossible to obtain, making it possible to respond to the growing demand for meteorological and climate information. On the other hand, computers linked to the World Weather Watch Global Observing System allow a large amount of data to be gathered, which speeds up much of the traditional forecasting work.

Public funding

Since close to 80% of all meteorologists work in public administration, the state of public finances directly influences demand in this occupation. Government cutbacks have led to the hiring of fewer meteorologists, especially in the second half of the 90s. Despite the improvement in their budget situations, governments focused thereafter their new spending on health care and, to a lesser degree, education. In light of the 2008-2009 recession's impact on the state of public finances, this factor is not expected to contribute to employment growth in this occupation in the next few years.

Considering all the trends that influence employment of meteorologists, their number should decrease slightly over the next few years.

Employment characteristics

According to census data, women held about 24% of the jobs in this occupation in 2006, a percentage that has been rising since 1991 (12%).

Education and Training

A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement to enter this occupation. Increasingly, a post-graduate degree in meteorology and a master's in atmospheric sciences or in a related field are required. A PhD is an asset for research positions.

McGill University and the University of Quebec at Montreal are the only institutions that offer this training in Quebec.

Useful References

Important Considerations

The number of meteorologists should decrease slightly over the next few years.

Because there are very few unemployed people in this occupation, because Quebec universities admit only a small number of students to meteorology programs, and because employers only rarely hire graduates of bachelor programs, individuals with masters degrees are very likely to find a job related to their field of study.

Statistics 2114 - Meteorologists

Main Labour Market Indicators

In the following table, indicators such as the growth rate, yearly variation in employment, yearly attrition and total annual requirements are forecasts generated by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source for employment is Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey. The volumes of unemployment insurance beneficiaries come from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)’s administrative data. All of the data are rounded.

  Unit Group 2114 All occupations
Employment, average 2010-2012 less than 1,500 3,951,050
Employment Insurance claimants in 2012 0 87,600
Average Annual Growth Rate 2013-2017 -0.6% 0.8%
Annual Employment Variation 2013-2017 not available 33,400
Annual Attrition 2013-2017 not available 73,500
Total Annual Needs 2013-2017 not available 106,900

Employment Distribution

The data from the following employment distribution tables come from Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

  Unit Group 2114 All occupations
Employment by Gender
Males 73.0% 51.9%
Females 27.0% 48.1%
Employment by Age
15 - 24 years 0.0% 13.3%
25 - 44 years 47.9% 42.7%
45 - 64 years 52.1% 41.1%
65 years and over 0.0% 2.8%
Employment by Status
Full-time 94.6% 81.2%
Part-time 5.4% 18.8%
Employment by Annual Income
Full-time, full-year 73.0% 54.8%
Annual Average Income $82,300 $50,300
$0 - $19,999 0.0% 13.3%
$20,000 - $49,999 0.0% 48.0%
$50,000 and over 100.0% 38.8%
Employment by Highest Level of Schooling
Less than high-school 0.0% 12.1%
High-school 0.0% 20.3%
Post-secondary 9.4% 44.2%
Bachelors 90.6% 23.4%
Others Employment Distribution
Self-employment 0.0% 10.7%
Immigration 15.1% 13.7%
Employment by Region
RegionUnit Group 2114 All occupations
Abitibi-Témiscamingue 0.0% 1.8%
Bas-Saint-Laurent 0.0% 2.3%
Capitale-Nationale 4.4% 9.4%
Centre-du-Québec 0.0% 2.9%
Chaudière-Appalaches 0.0% 5.5%
Côte-Nord / Nord-du-Québec 0.0% 1.6%
Estrie 0.0% 3.8%
Gaspésie-îles-de-la-Madeleine 0.0% 0.9%
Lanaudière 0.0% 6.1%
Laurentides 5.9% 7.3%
Laval 11.8% 5.2%
Mauricie 0.0% 3.0%
Montérégie 30.9% 19.2%
Montréal 47.1% 22.9%
Outaouais 0.0% 4.9%
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean 0.0% 3.3%

Main Sectors of Employment

The data of the following table were prepared by economists from Service Canada, Quebec region. The data source is Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey (NHS).

SectorUnit Group 2114
Federal Government Public Administration 63.4%
Other Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (Meteorological services included) 18.7%
Utilities (Hydro-Québec included) 10.1%