It looks like such a glamorous career with the bright studio lights and television cameras, broadcasting live to homes every morning and evening. Many students are drawn to the profession because they think they’ll find fame and fortune. Well you might get some fame, but the fortune part is a little bit harder.
Your starting salary as a broadcast meteorologist will likely be between $19,000 and $24,000. I’ve seem some mets start out with more, and others offered even less, but in my best guess, this is what you should plan on for the first two years out of college.
It all revolves around the perception of local news. The public, in general, is under the impression that we make more, which makes more students coming out of high school want to join the field. After graduation you’ll find that there are likely more mets than jobs to place them all, which creates a glut of talent at the bottom. With dozens of eager mets all competing for the same open spot, News Directors have the power to offer very little for the position. If you won’t work for $20,000, there are a bunch of others that will. Its not like small market stations are making that much money to begin with anyway.
Once you’ve been in the biz for a few years, and you’ve proven yourself, things can get better, but even that is no guarantee. Many broadcast meteorologists climb the DMA ladder, going from market to bigger market, improving their paycheck as they go. Keep in mind that there are fewer spots at the top, and they are sometimes less secure, so there are certainly trade-offs for chasing the end of the rainbow.
The first few years can be difficult, but if you go in knowing what to expect, it could be a little easier. With college loans coming due and the challenge of possibly having to find a roommate in a town you don’t know very well, it could scare some good mets away before they even get started. Graduate school quickly feels a whole lot safer.
In the end, the broadcast meteorologists that make it and do well, do so because they love what they do (or they are really good looking). Don’t get into the field if you are looking to get rich or be a big star. If you really have a passion for telling people about the weather, the rest usually takes care of itself. Things have a way of working out, most of the time.