National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Becki Heim

Location: Anchorage, AK
Anchorage Weather Forecast Office (WFO)
Job Title: Regional Program Manager (marine, sea ice, tsunami, and coastal inundation)

Educational Background:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Atmospheric Science with a minor in Mathematics from the University of North Dakota
  • Master’s Degree in Atmospheric Science with a focus on Oceanography from the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Describe the career path that led you to your current job with the National Weather Service.

  • I was offered a scholarship and research assistant position at the University of Alaska Fairbanks after earning my Bachelor’s Degree. I jumped at the opportunity, packed my life in my car, drove up the Al-Can highway, and then was inspired assisting with incredible polar science projects on the Scandinavian island of Svalbard and onboard a Russian Icebreaker in the Arctic Ocean. During this time I fell in love with Alaska and the Arctic! Now my passion for the Arctic has turned into my career and Alaska has turned into my home.

What do you do for the NWS?

  • In my current position as the Alaska Sea Ice Program Leader, I have an incredible opportunity to interact with a diverse customer base, utilize satellite data to produce sea ice analysis maps & forecasts, and work with scientists to bring polar research findings into our operations. It's such a unique position! I interact with many groups that range from the US Coast Guard, to Bering Sea crab fishermen, to local coastal villages. It's an exciting time to be working in the Arctic and see our program grow to meet evolving customer needs!

What was the most interesting, exciting, or impactful weather/water event you experienced while working for the NWS and why does it stand out?

  • The most impactful event I experienced involved the US Coast Guard Cutter Healy escort of the Russian Tanker Renda to resupply the village of Nome, Alaska with fuel.. During the period from early December 2011 through January 2012 our sea ice program team provided daily briefings to the US Coast Guard in support of safe navigation through approximately 800 miles of sea ice in the Bering Sea.

What made you decide to pursue a career with the NWS?

  • The mission, to protect life, property, and commerce. Working for the NWS provides an opportunity to make a difference and to have a real impact in this world. I think that's incredibly rewarding!

What do you like most about working for the NWS?

  • I really enjoy interacting with our diverse customer base, working with so many groups to bring knowledge that is being gathered in the research setting into operations, and getting feedback to continue to grow our program to meet the emerging needs of our customers in a changing Arctic.

What advice do you have for someone interested in a career with the NWS?

  • Be persistent and don't give up. Also, look for references that know your skill-set and work skills - not just someone with a title. Gain experience working on independent projects in your classroom setting or office that you can apply to your dream job in the NWS.

What training or coursework would you recommend to someone interested in following your career path?

  • Get your math and science courses in and don't give up when you struggle. It took me multiple tries to get through Calculus 2, but persistence always wins in the end.
  • I would also highly recommend looking for internships and opportunities to learn outside of the classroom early on in college. Try things out to discover what you enjoy and what you dislike. Instead of working at a coffee shop or mall, ask if any of your professors are looking for a research intern. Any experience that will help you in your future career is a benefit. And most of all once you find your passion, go with it! It will lead you to a career and a job you look forward to going to each day!