A Job that Can Weather The Economic Storm

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Steve Prinzivalli hears about it when he predicts a dusting of snow and six inches falls. He sweats it deciding whether to forecast a 92- or 95-degree high.

Prinzivalli works as one of nine meteorologists for WeatherBug, the Germantown private forecasting service. It's a dream job for a guy who grew up making forecasts for his family and giving high school sports commentary to practice impromptu speaking.

About 8,800 people work in the United States as meteorologists or in other atmospheric science jobs, more than a third of them for the National Weather Service. They earn a median salary of $77,150, and a median of $84,880 if they work for the government, according to the federal Occupational Outlook Handbook. Job prospects are especially bright in private forecasting jobs.

"Weather is not scripted," Prinzivalli said. He's been the on-air weatherman for television stations in Dayton, Ohio; Wichita; and Binghamton, N.Y. Despite his joy in the job, he says "there's a lot of responsibility and a lot of stress sometimes," such as the forecasts for World Series days. For those, the meteorologists at WeatherBug collaborate or trade e-mails.

On most Saturdays, "I am a one-man band," Prinzivalli says, handling national forecasts, writing a Web article and building graphics for the maps, all by 11 a.m. He records his forecasts himself and uploads them to clients. He creates and records a second forecast in the afternoon.

Forecasting involves "skills and intuition" as well as experience and a degree in meteorology, Prinzivalli said.

-- Vickie Elmer

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