How to Become a Climate Change Analyst — Salary, Qualifications and Career Path

6 min read
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Looking to do more in your career to address the threat of climate change? Do you enjoy studying the natural world and are skilled in data analysis? Then you should consider a career as a climate change analyst.

It’s an increasingly important career at the forefront of the effort to understand and solve our greatest global challenges — plus, it comes with a potentially high salary. Here’s what you need to know about how to become a climate change analyst, including job responsibilities, salary expectations and required qualifications.

What Does a Climate Change Analyst Do?

Climate change analysts, also known as climatologists, study and measure the environment and weather dynamics to gather scientific data, which they use to produce statistical models to monitor climate trends. They’ll then review other climate models, scientific studies and environmental reports to identify patterns and forecast future climate.

Their aim is to contextualize their analysis into reports, presentations and policy suggestions that can forecast future scenarios, outline possible impacts and suggest climate change goals. As a practice, it’s distinct from meteorology, which is the study of short-term weather systems. Climatology studies the frequency and trends of those of weather systems over longer periods of time, usually 30 years or more.

Climate change analysts work with other scientists, such as environmental scientists, biologists and marine biologists, to consult on climate data and assess how climate change impacts ecosystems, communities and industries. They make recommendations to government officials, environmental organizations, large enterprises, communities and other stakeholders on how to address climate change by taking action on consumption, emissions and other activities that affect Earth’s climate.

Specific responsibilities for a climate change analyst can include:

  • Developing predictive modeling software programs to analyze climatic conditions
  • Analyzing the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of climate change
  • Performing oversight analysis of project cost and ROI projections
  • Assessing risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities associated with climate change
  • Suggesting actions to reduce emissions and meet greenhouse gas reduction targets

Far from being a monolith, a climate change analyst’s responsibilities will vary based on the industry they work in, their position within an organization and their own specialization. Climate change analysts can focus on different areas, including:

  • Environmental analysis — The analyst specializes in studying changes that affect the natural world, including ecosystems, wildlife habitats, biodiversity and natural resources. They work with conservationists, zoologists and biologists to recommend actions to conserve and restore ecosystems.
  • Socioeconomic analysis — The analyst studies the impacts of climate change on human civilization, including agriculture, infrastructure and public health. They work with agricultural engineers, city planners, public health officials and other professionals to recommend protections for vulnerable populations and systems.
  • Climate change risk analysis — The analyst studies the potential hazards, vulnerabilities and impacts of climate change on different sectors, such as urban centers, food supplies, water resources and coastal regions. They work with emergency officials, disaster response and government agencies to make response plans and find ways to mitigate the risks of climate change.

What Is the Average Salary for a Climate Change Analyst?

As with most positions, a climate change analyst’s salary will vary based on job requirements, level of experience, geographic location and industry.

As of February 2024, Salary.com listed a salary range of $66,745 to $85,394. That’s consistent with the amounts estimated by other job sites, including Glassdoor ($86,490) and Zippia ($77,387).

Zippia also lists the locations with the highest paying jobs for climate change analysts as:

  • California — $103,343
  • The District of Columbia — $99,816
  • New York — $97,315
  • Alaska — $97,000
  • Massachusetts — $91,853

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes climatologists and climate change analysts in the category of atmospheric scientists, which is predicted to see 4% job growth from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average.

What Skills Do I Need to Start a Career as a Climate Change Analyst?

Exact skills requirements will vary by position, especially across different industries. However, as this position is heavily research-oriented, an aspiring climate change analyst will need training in data collection, research and analysis and in writing technical reports.

In general, the most important skills include:

  • Excellent research and data analysis skills
  • The ability to conduct mathematical modeling
  • Knowledge of environmental science and climate change policies
  • Critical thinking and complex problem-solving
  • Writing, communication and presentation skills

Required skills will also vary with the workplace environment. Climate change analysts who work in the field or perform site visits will need to know how to use measurement tools including barometers, hygrometers, anemometers and rain gauges, as well as how to operate climate monitoring systems.

What Qualifications Do I Need?

The exact qualifications for a climate change analyst job description will vary by position, especially across different industries. In general, required qualifications include:

Degrees from Accredited College or University Programs

Most entry-level jobs will require a bachelor’s degree in climate science, ecology, meteorology, statistics or a related field. You will need to take courses in math, statistics, computer science and physics. Other elective courses can include public policy or economics.

Some companies and organizations may require a master’s degree, and 23.8% of climate change analysts have master’s degrees. Transdisciplinary environmental programs such as the Master of Science in Engineering, Sustainability and Health (MESH) where you can build upon your background by looking through the lens of other disciplines to co-create solutions that take into account things like the build environment, just transitions, public health, and sustainable viable systems; all of which can provide insights into how climate impacts other industries and professions, and vice-versa.

Specific Industry Certifications

Though there aren’t many certifications required for climate change analysts, relevant certifications can provide additional specialized knowledge and proof of skills, such as:

Who Hires Climate Change Analysts?

Climate change analysts can find employment with any of the following:

  • Government agencies responsible for environmental protection, climate change mitigation or natural resource management employ climate change analysts to assess policies, develop strategies and monitor environmental impacts.
  • Non-governmental organizations and non-profit groups focused on environmental advocacy, research and education hire climate change analysts to conduct research, engage in advocacy efforts and communicate findings to policymakers and the public.
  • Universities and research institutes employ climate change analysts to conduct scientific research, analyze data and publish findings in academic journals or policy reports. Universities can also hire climate change analysts as faculty.
  • Private sector consulting firms specializing in environmental sustainability, climate risk assessment and energy management may hire climate change analysts to provide expertise to clients in various industries.
  • Large corporations and enterprises, particularly those in industries heavily impacted by climate change regulations or with a focus on sustainability, may employ climate change analysts to assess risks, identify opportunities for reducing emissions and develop corporate sustainability strategies.

A search of different job aggregator sites in February 2024 found job listings for climate change analysts or climatologists positions at:

  • North Carolina State University
  • University of Washington
  • University of Nevada
  • World Bank Group
  • ClimatePartner
  • Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc.
  • InfluenceMap
  • LSA Consulting
  • GrayMar Environmental
  • S&P Global
  • Ascendant Program Services, LLC

How Do I Become a Climate Change Analyst?

To become a climate change analyst, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, preferably in meteorology or a related field such as biology, climate science or environmental science. For most positions, you’ll need skills and experience in using or developing specialized software such as geographic information systems, remote sensing and climate modeling programs. You’ll also need to have the technical skills to use statistical analysis tools for analyzing large datasets and running simulations.

As for tips on how can you secure a job position, here are a few recommendations:

  • Start researching current open positions that you might be interested in to review their responsibilities and requirements. That will give you an idea of the skills, knowledge and experience that you’ll need to develop.
  • Look for internship or volunteer work opportunities with organizations involved in environmental research or advocacy. Even if it’s not an analyst position, it can provide you with experience in climate, environmental or sustainability work. It can also expand your personal and professional network for future references.
  • Join professional organizations such as the American Association of State Climatologists or The Climate Institute, attend conferences and participate in workshops to meet other professionals in your field. Stay updated on the latest news and emerging trends in climate science through reliable sources, journals and scientific publications.
  • Understanding how action against climate change relates to our underlying social, political, environmental, economic and health contexts can help ensure that the work you do has long lasting benefits for all people and the planet we call home. You should look for a transdisciplinary program which provides this framing, such as the University of San Diego’s online M.S. in Engineering, Sustainability and Health (MESH).

MESH can prepare you for a lifetime of communication and collaboration with a diverse field of professionals who are working to address climate change. Visit our MESH program page to learn more about how you can build upon your background and interact with other like-minded professionals from engineering, communication, social and environmental justice and other related fields to work toward sustainable solutions for climate change.

FAQs

What does a climate change analyst do?

Climate change analysts study and analyze data related to climate change, including its causes, impacts and potential solutions. They gather and analyze environmental and weather data to identify patterns and trends across climate periods (which are 30 years or more). They use computer models and simulations to forecast future climate scenarios and assess the impacts of climate change. They then communicate their findings to stakeholders to advocate for policy changes or other specific actions.

What do you need to become a climate change analyst?

To become a climate change analyst you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in meteorology, climate science, statistics or a related field. You’ll need to demonstrate skills in data analysis, mathematical modeling, critical thinking and problem-solving. Some positions may require a few years of experience in an entry-level position or from an internship.

Are climate change analysts in demand?

Yes, both climate change analysts and climatologists are in demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an average of 4% job growth for atmospheric scientists from 2022 to 2032.

How long does it take to become a climate change analyst?

Becoming a climate change analyst will require several years of education, training and practical experience. Entry-level positions may be available after earning a four-year degree and obtaining relevant internship experience OR after earning your bachelor’s degree and obtaining relevant work experience. Higher-level positions will take longer, as you may need to earn an advanced degree or have several years of professional experience.

What are resources for climate change analysts?

If you’re looking for additional information on the state of climate change and how to make a difference, consult the following resources:


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