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What are the AMS and NWA seals?

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Occasionally, I am asked if a meteorologist has to have some sort of certification in order to “practice weather.” It seems some TV viewers see the seals at the bottom of their screens when the weather forecaster is on air, and they aren’t sure what those AMS and NWA logos mean.

First, a meteorologist only needs a degree and/or relevant military training and experience to be able to call themselves meteorologists. Most meteorology degrees are science degrees, and are often called “atmospheric science” instead of meteorology. The two are basically interchangeable. There are some universities that offer broadcast meteorology degrees which are not science, but are arts degrees. These meteorologists still get some of the same education as the scientists, but the curriculum isn’t as focused on higher math and the harder scientific concepts. I’m not saying that those degrees don’t take work. It’s just a different focus.

The seals are issued by the two national, professional organizations for meteorologists: the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association. In order to earn these certifications, a person has to show a high level of competency in weather forecasting by passing tests and continuing their education by taking courses (online or in class). The NWA calls their seal the NWA Broadcaster Seal of Approval, and the AMS actually has two seals now: Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and Certified Consulting Meteorologist, which is for non-broadcasters who provide advice in meteorology to the public.

Once a meteorologist earns the seal or certification, they keep it as long as they are paying their dues to the organization and keep up their professional development.

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About the blogger

Like most meteorologists, Niki Morock has been interested in weather since she was a child. After earning a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from N.C. State University in 2007, Niki moved to Minnesota and worked at Weather Eye Radio Network as a broadcast meteorologist, doing daily, live call-ins to morning radio show hosts across the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains and covering severe weather as it happened. While there, she also volunteered as a Skywarn storm spotter trainer, teaching civilians and first responders how to identify parts of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes and how to call in storm reports to the National Weather Service. Niki is now the vice president of the Central North Carolina Chapter of the American Meteorological Society and a member of the national American Meteorological Society.