Salaries of Small Market TV meteorologists…Ouch!15 Nov , 2011 | 5
So I’m going to talk about small market TV meteorologist salaries today. First off, here is the list of all the TV markets in the United States. Let’s pay closer attention to the markets that are greater than 140.
This is probably going to be an eye-opening post for some of you…because I do want to give you a realistic sense of how salaries are going to be when you start in TV. And I’d love for all current or former TV meteorologists to weigh in from their experience in the comments section.
First off, the small markets are having a real tough time. The economy is sluggish which means small town local economies are struggling overall. This implies that ad sales are most likely down at a lot of stations (ie if businesses are hurting, they’re not going to advertise on local TV). Less revenue at the station means less money in anchor’s pocket and/or more consolidation. Will get to “consolidation” of TV stations in another post.
My first TV weather job was in Chico, CA (DMA at approx 130)…you can read about how I got my first TV job, here. I made about $10/hour for my role as a weekend meteorologist and was given a $1000 clothing allowance for suits, ties, shirts, etc. I was also given free gas and a free place to stay while I was in town. Not too shabby! But then again, Chico is an “elementary school market”. See my earlier post about breaking down the TV markets (here).
But I’ve heard many stories of meteorologists in small markets making less than your average pizza delivery guy…or meteorologists having to sleep in their car because they couldn’t afford to pay rent. Ok so maybe the latter is a bit extreme…but you have to think of your first TV weather job almost like a “paid internship”. If you can go in with that mentality you’ll feel much better about yourself.
Average salaries for small market TV (DMA >140) meteorologists range from a dismal $17,000 to $30,000. I’d be extremely surprised to hear of very small market stations paying more than $30,000. If there are, please do share!
And with these lowball salaries you’re also expected to work more. News Directors are giving anchors multiple roles to save costs (ie do 2 or 3 jobs in 1). It’s very rare nowadays that you’ll just to do the weather on TV. They will most likely make you report, produce, and edit! So be ready to report random stories about theft, burglary, fire, or when a cat fell out of a tree and was saved by a kid!
And here’s the not-so awesome part…if you’ve been requested by your News Director to do a feature for a story around town…75% of the time you’re gonna be by yourself. What do I mean? Well take it literally. There isn’t a cameraman coming along with you…especially if you’re the weekend guy. You’re going to be taking the camera equipment, setting it up…putting on your make up (Read why looks do matter in TV), setting up the live shot…taking the camera down…going to the editing booth…editing it yourself, writing your own script, and sending it off the to the control room to be put on air. In Large market TV stations, you have a person doing all of this for you…so there is light at the end of the tunnel
But here’s the bright side guys…this experience will last you a lifetime. To be able to report non-weather stories, shoot your own tape, and edit it will give you additional skill sets in your career. And it’s really tough to land your first TV job…so consider yourself fortunate if you do. See who’s hiring entry level meteorology jobs here.
Would love to hear stories of TV meteorologists on their first job…please comment and share below! Speaking of stories, I’ll be interviewing a few on-air meteorologists soon and giving you a real life perspective and current outlook of their career path. Stay tuned! (photo credit: 123rf.com)