41, Atlanta, GA
Job Description: At The Weather Channel, Cantore hosts Storm Stories, regularly anchors the prime-time Evening Edition, and is TWC's resident "storm tracker," reporting live from the field when Ma Nature's at her gnarliest.
Why This Work Rules: Even though he's often seeing the country at its meteorological worst, blitzing after blizzards, hurricanes, and tornadoes remains a thrill. "I couldn't sleep as a kid when snow was forecasted," says Cantore, who grew up skiing in White River Junction, Vermont. "I'd run out there to play as soon as it started, even at 3 a.m. Now chasing storms is my livelihood." Bonus: After he covers a blizzard in Colorado, he's right there for the best powder.
Turning Point: Cantore's dad urged him to follow his storm-related passion by becoming a meteorologist. But it wasn't until Cantore nailed an on-camera report in his junior year in the meteorology program at Vermont's Lyndon State College that he realized broadcast TV was his true calling. After graduating in 1986, he sent his tapes to TV stations all over the country. The Weather Channel was his first interview.
The Balanced Life: Cantore spends about a third of the year reporting for TWC, but when he's not, life is about family, being outside, and teaching a broadcast-meteorology class as a visiting instructor at Lyndon State. In the summer, he steals weekends at his cabin in northern Georgia to hike, run, and garden. He and his wife, Tamra, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease eight years ago, also raise funds for research on Parkinson's and fragile X syndrome, a genetically inherited mental impairment that afflicts his two children, Benjamin, 10, and Christina, 12.
Reality Check: With two special-needs kids, Cantore's away more than he'd like to be. "The biggest storm I've ever covered is my life," he says.
The Bottom Line: Broadcast-meteorologist salaries run the gamut, from $20,000 for an entry-level job in a small market on up to $1 million for top pros at the major networks. Weatherheads should read The USA Today Weather Book (Vintage, $21), by Jack Williams, and storm enthusiasts can join the National Weather Service's volunteer severe-weather-spotting program (www.weather.gov/skywarn). Getting serious? Consider a degree in broadcast meteorology from top programs like those at Lyndon State College (apollo.lsc.vsc.edu) or Mississippi State University (www.msstate.edu).