Climatologists utilize a diverse skillset to study weather and climate patterns as well as the underlying processes influencing them. Distinct from meteorologists, climatologists focus on long-term trends that can span decades or even centuries. A climatologist's work environment varies from being in the field to lab and office work, depending on the area of specialization.

At a Glance

Imagine yourself in remote and rugged terrain, studying the effects of climate change on the natural world. One such day could find you in the basin of the Rocky Mountains, collecting data on the region's shifting precipitation patterns.

The day begins before dawn, as you rise early to prepare your equipment and gather your team. They load up their vehicles with tents, food, and scientific instruments, then set out across the rugged terrain towards the study site.

They set up camp and then begin taking measurements of the surrounding environment. You direct your team to deploy instruments to measure temperature, humidity, and wind speed, while you carefully took soil samples to assess moisture levels.

As the day progresses, the team gathered as much data as possible. They hike to nearby mountain peaks, collecting snow samples to analyze for contaminants. They also use drones to take aerial photographs of the region, recording changes in the landscape over time.

As the sun sets, you sit outside your tent, taking a moment to rest and reflect. You gaze out at the sweeping vista before you, feeling a sense of awe at the beauty of the natural world. You reflect that the work you and your team are doing is critical to understanding the impacts of climate change on this delicate ecosystem; they could help mitigate its effects and protect the environment for future generations.

Job Duties

Job duties vary significantly from one position to the next, but in general, climatologists are involved in the following job duties:

  • Analyzing data to establish climate trends.
  • Generating future climate projections using predictive modelling.
  • Assessing climate change impacts on infrastructure, buildings, and facilities.
  • Assisting engineers and architects in designing buildings and infrastructure to withstand adverse weather.
  • Providing internal project management support and input on climate sections of reports.
  • Developing and delivering presentations on climate risk assessments.
  • Conducting research on atmospheric events.
  • Advising policymakers and stakeholders regarding the use and interpretation of climatological information.
  • Collecting samples and measurements in the field.

Work Environment

Climatologists work in a variety of locations, including:

The office:

  • Conducting data analysis and preparing reports
  • Developing and using predictive models
  • Writing and editing climate reports
  • Identifying and researching solutions to climate issues
  • Providing general consulting services
  • Liaising with other environmental professionals

The field:

  • Collecting data (e.g., wind speed, precipitation measurements) and taking samples (e.g., soil, water, or ice cores)
  • Completing site assessments for project proponents
  • Engaging with stakeholders and the public to disseminate climate information (radio, television, conferences)
  • Monitor ice, sea levels, or temperature

The laboratory:

  • Analyzing field samples
  • Designing and building scientific instruments

Where to Work

Climatologists typically work for:

  • Environmental and engineering consulting firms
  • Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
  • Colleges, universities, and research institutes
  • Non-governmental organizations

Search for jobs on the ECO Canada Job Boad

Education and Skills


If you are in high school and considering a career as a climatologist, you should have a strong interest in:

  • Geography
  • Natural Sciences
  • Physics
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • English

In most cases, the minimum education requirement is an undergraduate degree. Candidates interested in research typically require a graduate degree.

If you are a post-secondary student considering a career as a climatologist, the following programs are most applicable:

  • Atmospheric Sciences
  • Environmental Science
  • Engineering
  • Physics
  • Climatology
  • Meteorology
  • Mathematics

Certification is not required for climatologists, however professional designations such as a membership In the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society can be beneficial.

Our Environmental Professional designation may be useful for your career and personal development.


Technical Skills

  • Analyzing statistical and quantitative data
  • Predictive modelling
  • Use of meteorological equipment such as doppler radar systems and hygrometers
  • Apply engineering and technology to find practical solutions to problems
  • Knowledge of industry hardware and software programming languages


Personal and Professional Skills

  • Verbal and written communication
  • Leadership
  • Strategic planning
  • Adaptability
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration

Role Models

Howard Freeland

Although he is a research scientist, Howard Freeland's job still requires him to "get his hands dirty". Writing computer programs, doing calculus and driving a fork-lift on a research ship can all be part of a day's work. But he loves the variety and the travel.

His original passion was astronomy; "I was crazy about it from an early age", he says. His interest in the evolution of planets led to an interest in climate change and the ways it influences evolution. He still regards himself as an astronomist but one that focuses on planet Earth.

Howard has a BSc. in theoretical physics, A doctorate from Dalhousie University in physical oceanography, and did post-doctoral work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts.

Howard now works for the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, B.C. His task these days is to research the oceans and develop ways to provide reliable one-year forecasts of phenomena like El Niño. His research takes him to sea for extended periods to "capture snapshots of the ocean's climactic state." He monitors the physics and chemistry of climate change and tries to figure out how carbon dioxide, heat and salt move through the oceans.

His advice to young people interested in the field? "Be interested in science and read well. Look for coop opportunities - prepare yourself by developing skills that are relevant."

Your Impact

Climatologists are well-situated to make positive contributions to the environment. Climatologists work with project proponents to identify environmental impacts and devise methods to mitigate them. As a climatologist, you may conduct research for an energy company by studying locations best suited to erect a wind farm for long-term performance.

Climatologists influence both policy and law-making through direct consultation with governmental agencies. As a climatologist, you may be called on by a municipality to advise as to what steps need to be taken to address increasingly common severe weather events such as flooding.

Climatologists often communicate with and spread knowledge to the public about developing or ongoing climate issues. As a climatologist, you may be asked to report research findings directly to the lay public in the form of television or radio interviews or through electronic means such as online articles and social media content. Climatologists play an integral role in community outreach and spreading awareness.

Climatologist jobs can be found in government agencies, academic and research institutions, environmental consulting firms, and non-governmental organizations.

As conversations on climate change grow, so do the myths surrounding it. You may have heard false statements like ‘global warming isn’t real because it’s still cold.’

Climatologists play a very important role in the direction of climate change. They may collaborate with organizations and firms to help lessen the impacts of their business practices on the environment. They can also act as educators to make the rest of us aware of how our actions directly affect the climates in which we live.

The process of urbanization is one area where climatologists are needed. Growing populations means expanding cities which creates a need for more space.

Larger homes are built, commercial and residential areas sprout up and more energy is consumed. Making space for humans may come at the cost of displacing wildlife and can lead to negative ecological actions such as deforestation, which forces wildlife out of their natural habitats.

Climatologists understand that the modernization of urban areas directly affects both regional and global climates. This could be through creating microclimates that see more heat in certain areas. As a climatologist, you’d study the change in such areas over time.

Occupational Classification

Climatologists are classified in the following occupational grouping:

NOC Code: 21103 - Meteorologists and climatologists

What is an NOC Code?

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers, and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data and describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.

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