Planning an air strike. Charting the best course for a deployed ship. Identifying currents that affect a submarine underway. Whatever the scenario, meteorology and oceanography are factors that inevitably come into play. And Officers in the field help lead efforts to ensure safe and successful operations.
Meteorology & Oceanography Job Description
Whether operating in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, in the sky, upon the ocean or below it, Navy equipment, people and decision making all rely on the technical and tactical advice of Navy Meteorology and Oceanography (METOC) Officers. These skilled scientists are the Navy’s geophysical warriors. They apply expertise in all facets of oceanography, meteorology, hydrography, and precise time and astronomy.
Serving as Officers (four-year degree required), METOC Officers are leaders in the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) – a group of highly specialized information experts fully integrated across surface, subsurface, air, space and cyberspace domains. With shared functions, capabilities and resources, IDC members leverage their skills to optimize decision making and to maximize the use of sensors, weapons, network communications and control systems for purposes of national security and warfighting.
Specific Job Responsibilities
Navy Meteorologists and Oceanographers deliver a timely and accurate understanding of operational conditions from sea to space while also managing the personnel responsible for monitoring the surrounding physical environment and forecasting weather conditions.
As a METOC Officer, you will use leading edge technology and information systems to characterize the geophysical environment – applying knowledge in support of Fleet Operations and everything from Maritime Navigation to Aviation; Expeditionary Warfare to Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance; Naval Special Warfare to Anti-submarine Warfare and Mine Warfare. This role may include:
- Helping guide ships, aircraft and troops with recommendations based on weather forecasts and ocean conditions
- Relaying forecast updates and weather warnings to military and civilian authorities
- Preparing ocean, sea and waterway charts and maps for anything from basic navigation to search-and-rescue efforts
- Maintaining the military’s primary master clock, which provides the most precise time interval in the world and drives the Global Positioning System (GPS)
- Overseeing the work of Aerographer’s Mates – Enlisted Sailors (no degree required) who monitor weather conditions and provide forecast information
Meteorology and Oceanography Officers serve in challenging roles of increasing scope and responsibility around the world – expanding geophysical expertise through experience gained during rotations between sea tours, shore tours and educational tours. As a Navy Meteorologist or Oceanographer, you could find yourself serving aboard aircraft carriers or amphibious ships. Working anywhere from the Naval Observatory to Naval Research Labs. Or furthering your education at Naval Postgraduate School.
Training & Advancement
Those pursuing a Meteorology and Oceanography Officer position are required to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport, R.I. Upon completion, they typically attend six-week Basic Oceanography Accession Training (BOAT) in Gulfport, Miss. They also receive specialized training that includes methods of analyzing weather conditions, identification of common weather patterns, and techniques and procedures of forcecasting.
From there, METOC Officers embark on a career path that usually progresses from an operational tour (a non-oceanography role on a ship or with a deployable unit) to a Naval Oceanography tour (within a warfighting directorate or production center) followed by an education tour (which involves receiving formal education in a preferred discipline).
After that, there are opportunities to serve on aircraft carriers, with a Strike Group Staff, and in roles more specialized to one’s preferred discipline and with increasing leadership responsibilities. In the course of service, specialized training received could lead to credentialing, certification and/or licensure opportunities from a number of national boards and organizations. Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance.
Beyond professional credentials and certifications, Meteorology and Oceanography Officers can advance their education through the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges Navy (SOCNAV) Degree Program, by pursuing opportunities at institutions such as Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) or Navy War College (NWC), and by completing Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) at one of the various service colleges.
The oceanography and meteorology job field in the Navy puts a heavy emphasis on specialized training, research and education. Officers eventually earn a dual master's degree in meteorology and physical oceanography at Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, Calif. There are opportunities to receive informal business training in areas such as budget/finance, manpower, and research and development. And beyond that, you could potentially earn a doctoral degree while being paid full-time as a Navy Officer.
Like most positions, promotions depend upon your performance and time in service. Navy Officers are rewarded with excellent benefits – including a competitive salary and opportunities to earn additional pay for special duty.
A four-year degree is required to work as a Meteorology and Oceanography Officer. Candidates seeking an Officer position in this community must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution (with coursework in calculus and calculus-based physics), preferably in a technical field and ideally in areas of study such as physics; physics-based oceanography, meteorology, hydrography, earth science; or engineering.
All candidates must also be U.S. citizens, eligible for a secret security clearance and qualified for sea duty.
After the Navy
Training in this field could prepare you for government agency and private sector careers, including work with commercial airlines, with radio and TV stations, and as a geographer. Plus, the specialized knowledge and expertise you gain as a Meteorology and Oceanography Officer could prepare you to work for the Office of Naval Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Weather Service, academic research institutions and museums, or other esteemed military and civilian institutions.
Consider Your Service Options
There are different ways that you can commit to serve in America’s Navy. Besides full-time opportunities in Active Duty, part-time Reserve positions are also available in this career area.