Recent trends in U.S. undergraduate meteorology degree recipients and employment opportunities show that the American university system is producing many more graduates than traditional employers, such as the National Weather Service (NWS), can absorb. The selection process for vacancies is highly competitive. Having a large pool to draw on for filling the few vacancies that exist would normally be considered a good thing. However, for entry-level positions, where most applicants are coming straight out of university programs and possess little relevant job experience, distinguishing between the qualified candidates who will merely be able to do the work and those who will excel as NWS employees is challenging. One way that the NWS has been able to reduce its risk in this area is by taking advantage of the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) to identify, train, and select promising future employees. This program allows the NWS to hire students with bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees and upon graduation to convert the students to permanent employees relatively quickly. The SCEP goes back many years under such names as the Student Trainee Program, and the Cooperative Education Student Program, and has enabled students to embark on NWS careers. For example, the Meteorological Development Laboratory has graduated more than 170 students from its program since the mid-1970s. This article discusses the use of the program at NWS field offices, regional headquarters, and laboratories and provides statistics on NWS job placements. It is shown that SCEP students fill a significant percentage of NWS's current need for entry-level meteorologists, physical scientists, and hydrologists. In addition, 85% of SCEP students go on to obtain permanent full-time employment with the NWS.
Riverside Technology Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland
NOAA/NWS/Meteorological Development Laboratory, Silver Spring, Maryland