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Rain Brain: Weather Forecaster
Tuesday, February 15, 2005; 4:31 PM
JESSICA CLARK, 30
JOB: Meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md.
SALARY RANGE: About $63,000 to $82,000
EDUCATION: Bachelor's in physical oceanography from Florida Tech; master's in meteorology from University of Hawaii.
WHAT SHE DOES: Clark interprets computer models to build three-day, nationwide forecasts of where and how much precipitation will fall, and she predicts the probability of precipitation for up to a week. She also keeps an eye on tropical systems in the Atlantic. Forecasts primarily feed the media and field offices of the National Weather Service.
WOULD YOU WANT HER JOB?: Weather can be a fickle beast, but computer models also have biases that Clark must identify and factor into her forecasts. And you have built-in performance reviews: All forecasts are checked against the actual weather. Shift work can bring you to the office at any time, and working all night in an office populated mainly by men creates "an interesting dynamic," she said. "You learn a lot about the opposite sex, that's for sure."
HOW YOU CAN GET HER JOB: Increasingly, a master's degree is required; either your master's or bachelor's should be in meteorology or a closely related earth science, such as hydrology. Other than the government, there are private sector jobs at businesses that forecast weather for shipping and airline companies, and opportunities in the military and media.
This article orignally appeared in Express on August 30, 2004.