Educational Requirements for Careers in the National Weather Service

Interested in a career with the National Weather Service (NWS) or other agency in the federal government?

In order to be considered for a position as a meteorologist in the NWS or other federal agency, certain academic requirements must be met. These requirements are government-wide, not just for NWS, and are set by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Details about the classification and qualifications can be found in the meteorology series (1340) from the Office of Personnel Management. Along with meteorology, there is also a Physical Scientist series (1301) and a Hydrology series (1315).

Before you decide on a course of study, you should make sure that the university program and coursework fulfill the requirements of your career choice. The NWS does not certify university programs. The National Weather Association offsite link keeps a list of colleges and universities offering degrees in Meteorology or Atmospheric Science, and we always recommend consultation with university admissions and subsequent academic department advisors.

Education requirements for a meteorologist (GS 1340 series) include the following courses:

Minimum Requirements

Degree: Meteorology, Atmospheric Science, or other natural science major that included at least 24 semester hours (36 quarter hours) in meteorology/atmospheric science, including:

  • 6 semester hours in Atmospheric Dynamics *
  • 6 semester hours of analysis and prediction of weather systems (synoptic/mesoscale)
  • 3 semester hours of physical meteorology
  • 2 semester hours of remote sensing of the atmosphere and/or instrumentation
  • 6 semester hours of physics, with at least one course that includes laboratory sessions *
  • 3 semester hours of ordinary differential equations
  • At least 9 semester hours of coursework for a physical science major in any combination of three or more of the following:
    • Physical Hydrology
    • Chemistry
    • Physical Climatology
    • Aeronomy
    • Computer Science
    • Advanced Electricity and Magnetism
    • Statistics
    • Physical Oceanography
    • Radiative Transfer
    • Advanced Thermodynamics
    • Light and Optics

* Prerequisite or corequisite of calculus for course work in atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics, physics, and differential equations. Calculus courses must be appropriate for a physical science major.

Student Volunteer Service (Unpaid)

The U.S. Department of Commerce also offers unpaid training opportunities to students in high school and college. These opportunities provide work experience related to your academic program. The program allows you to explore career options as well as develop your personal and professional skills. As a student volunteer, you will be exposed to the various missions and responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

If you have any questions or inquiries regarding student employment opportunities, please refer to the DOC Student Employment Opportunities web site.

NOAA Student Opportunities

NOAA also has opportunities for students of any level – from kindergarten through high school, undergraduate and graduate, and even recent graduates. Opportunities include one-day events, summer internships at NOAA, multi-year fellowships, and more. Use the filters in the database to narrow your search and find the opportunities that work for you.

Internship Program

This Program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, from high school to graduate level, with opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school and while getting paid for the work performed. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service.

To be eligible, you must be a current student in an accredited high school; college (including 4-year colleges/universities, community colleges, and junior colleges); professional, technical, vocational, and trade school; advanced degree programs; or other qualifying educational institution, and pursuing a qualifying degree or certificate. Learn more.