|The Weather Bureau Forecast Office, Washington D.C., 1926 (Source: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/wea01302.htm)|
As a result, the role of forecasters and meteorologists has changed dramatically. Today, National Weather Service forecast offices don't look like the one above. They look like the one below.
|Source: NOAA/NWS, Norman, OK|
Contrary to fears, automation and innovation haven't resulted in fewer meteorological jobs, but instead job growth that is expected to continue in the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, projects a 12% growth in jobs in the atmospheric sciences from 2016-2026, faster than the average of 7% for all fields (see https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/atmospheric-scientists-including-meteorologists.htm).
Several groups and individuals have raised concerns about this change. Some of the concerns may be justified and some not, but it is important for today's students to realize that the way we do things today is not the way we will do things in the future. It is inevitable that humans will no longer launch weather balloons in the future. That job will be taken over by either automated systems, or advances in remote sensing using radars and microwave radiometers that will allow us to profile the atmosphere without the need for instruments dangled from a balloon. This is already happening from both space and ground based systems.
A pessimist would say that meteorological jobs are doomed, but a more realistic and optimistic perspective is that meteorological jobs will evolve. Meteorologists know better than most the perils of prediction, but one thing that is sure to happen is innovation-driven change. The future is bright for those who prepare for the jobs of tomorrow instead of those of today.