National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Storm Surge Specialist Jamie Rhome, National Hurricane Center
Operations Proving GroundKansas City, MO

Careers in Physical Science

What is a Physical Scientist?

Physical science is a broad term that describes the branch of natural science that studies non-living systems.  Meteorologists and hydrologists are physical scientists. The NWS employs other types of physical scientists as well; offices such as the National Tsunami Warning Center and the Space Weather Prediction Center employ scientists trained in several different fields within physical science such as geology, oceanography, physics, and astronomy.

What Does a Physical Scientist Do?

Physical scientists hold many different positions within the NWS. Some physical scientists are researchers who develop methods for integrating new science and technology into the forecast process. Others monitor earthquakes for the prediction of tsunamis, monitor solar activity and predict the impacts of solar flares, or work in program management positions. The job duties of a physical scientist in the NWS vary greatly between offices and official job titles.

Work Environment

Most physical scientists work in an office although some jobs require rotating shift work, fieldwork, and/or travel.

Education and Experience Requirements

Federally employed physical scientists must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in a physical science discipline, mathematics, or engineering. Additional education and experience requirements are possible and vary by position.

The list of education requirements for the federal physical science job series can be found here


Faces of the NWS: Physical Science

Becki Heim
Arctic & International Policy Coordinator
Alaska Region Headquarters

Michelle L’Heureux
NWS Climate Prediction Center
Physical Scientist

Cindi Preller
Alaska Tsunami Program Manager
Alaska Region Headquarters

Jamie Rhome
Deputy Director of the National Hurricane Center

Howard Singer
Chief Scientist
Space Weather Prediction Center

Sudhir Raj Shrestha
Physical Scientist / Technical Director Web and Data Services
Office of Water Prediction

Dr. Fanglin Yang
Physical Scientist and Project Lead for Development and Implementation of the FV3GFS Model