Mesonet Essentials is a resource created in collaboration with members of the American Association of State Climatologists (AASC) and the national mesonet community. To learn more about the AASC vision, mission, goals, and membership opportunities, visit their website at www.stateclimate.org.
Your mesonet requires a team of staff members to handle many tasks, including the following:
Part of your budget for your mesonet includes paying these staff members who help make your mesonet successful. Determining which skill sets and how many staff members are needed will help you plan your budget.
In addition, consider how the funding of your staff members may differ. For example, some of your staff members may be university personnel with dual jobs who are paid by the university, whereas other members of your staff may be dedicated mesonet employees paid under mesonet-related funding.
While every mesonet has different needs, the following are some common roles performed by mesonet staff members:
These roles may be fulfilled by a staff with a variety of backgrounds: scientist, engineer, administrator, professor, student, or technician. In addition, you may choose to hire contractual engineers for the initial deployment and permanent staff members to fulfill the other roles.
Another method to determine your staffing needs is to group the roles into larger categories:
You will need a team of engineers and technicians to maintain your system hardware. This includes all aspects of the hardware, such as system power, communications, the data logger, and sensors. Trained technical staff members are key to the long-term maintenance needs and success of your mesonet, as they need to handle onsite maintenance and repairs to stations. A technician typically has a unique set of focused skills related to instrumentation, electronics, and software. In addition, it is advantageous to have a staff member with a strong background in the type of parameters you're measuring and the type of data you're collecting. For example, it would be appropriate to have a meteorologist on staff for a meteorological mesonet.
Software engineers and programmers develop and maintain the system networking, servers, databases, software development, quality control, and your user interface (such as a website). These staff members help ensure you continue to deliver your mesonet deliverables to your stakeholders.
Support staff members are needed to perform a variety of tasks related to finance, administration, and facilities. Some task examples include budgeting, overseeing equipment purchases, staff scheduling, development of collaborations and external partnerships, site permitting, and working with site hosts and customers. These staff members can help smooth relationships with your stakeholders and the general public, as well as ensure that your mesonet funding continues. Because many mesonets are operated by universities or government agencies, many of these tasks are handled by those entities.
After reviewing the many roles that your staff must fulfill to help make your mesonet successful, you may wonder how large of a staff you need to hire. The number of staff members varies from mesonet to mesonet. For example, small to medium networks may have as few as three staff members, whereas a network with more than 100 stations may have has many as 20 staff members.
Although some mesonets discover that the size of their staff may be more a function of their budget than the actual size of their network, a general guideline is that the larger your network, the greater your need for financial support and, therefore, the greater your need for a larger staff.
At a bare minimum, you will need to ensure these roles are filled:
The Oklahoma Mesonet shared the details of their staffing needs for the management of their network of 120 stations:
Tip: It may be better to have your IT and development work done by someone who has a science background rather than by an IT specialist without a science background.
While it may be an attractive thought to have a single staff person fill multiple roles, care should be taken to ensure that you are not spreading your staff too thinly and thus compromising the meeting of your mesonet objectives. At the same time, the mesonet deliverables for your stakeholders should be proportional to the size of your staff to prevent a scenario of overpromising and underdelivering.
If your mesonet deliverables include providing data for use in emergency management operations, ensure that you are adequately staffed. It may be necessary to have a staff member on standby during weekends, holidays, and evenings.
No matter what the size of your staff, your staff members should work well together so that all necessary roles are filled without duplication of effort. Staff members should understand their roles and how their efforts interplay with the work of other staff members. Weekly staff meetings can be helpful for coordination, and you may find that having team leaders for various roles helps your staff members remain focused.
The following example illustrates how staff members may work together on a data issue:
Finding staff members for your mesonet may sound like a daunting task. The following are some tips to help you:
While it is important to hire staff members who are well-suited to the positions and will work well together as a team, hiring a technician may be especially challenging. You may wonder what qualities you should look for. The following are some suggested qualities:
The sample job postings that follow are intended to help you write your own jobs postings to meet the specific needs of your mesonet.
Primary Duties and Responsibilities:
Knowledge and Skills Considered Essential for Success:
Bachelor’s degree in electronic technology, meteorology, or closely related field plus one year of experience working with data collection devices, measurement sensors, and installation of field monitoring equipment; equivalent education/experience considered. Knowledge of and abilities to manage data logging equipment. Familiarity with weather data and communication devices. Experience must demonstrate good communication and organizational skills. Ability to work independently and as a member of a team necessary. Experience working with meteorological instrumentation, wireless communications, and environmental monitoring. Knowledge and skills specific to data loggers and software. Knowledge of weather station site survey techniques and skilled with microclimate sensors. Ability to design and fabricate circuits and weather station data collection paradigms, including support structures.
The Technician will be responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of weather monitoring and communications sites across the state of Oklahoma by performing tasks to include:
Associate degree or 2 years college study completed in Engineering, Electronics, Meteorology, or a related technical field or an equivalent combination of education and related experience.
Advertised Physical Requirements: