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Meteorologist


Meteorologists study the Earth's atmosphere and forecast the weather. This information is of vital importance to the sea transport and offshore industries, as well as those in power generation, the armed services, commercial aviation and agriculture. Meteorologists also use this information to work out future changes in the Earth's climate.

The Work

You could be:

  • collecting information on cloud, humidity, temperature and wind

  • collecting this information from aircraft, ships, radar stations, satellites and weather stations

  • analysing and interpreting the information using charts, maps and computer models

  • forecasting the weather for the next few days and sometimes for longer periods

  • forecasting climate conditions in the future

  • providing weather information through newspapers, radio or television

  • providing specialised weather information to industries such as agriculture, air and sea transport or the oil industry

  • doing research on processes taking place in the atmosphere and the causes of unusual weather

  • helping to develop new instruments to measure and record changes in the atmosphere.
Meteorologists can specialise in either forecasting or research.

Conditions

  • Most meteorologists work for the Met Office, the UK's national provider of environmental and weather related services.

  • However, you could also work for a research organisation such as the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) or the British Antarctic Survey, or for firms in the oil industry or a university. You might also work for one of the private sector weather service providers in the UK and Europe.

  • Most meteorologists work in an office, but some are based at weather stations at various locations in the UK. Some of these can be quite remote.

  • You would carry out much of your work using sophisticated technical equipment and computers.

  • You would work basic office hours, but in some posts you might have to work shifts or be available late or at weekends.

Getting In

  • This is a small profession and entry is very competitive.

  • Most entrants have an appropriate degree.

  • The Met Office normally requires a first or upper second class Honours degree in mathematics, physical sciences, computer science or meteorology, usually including Higher physics.

  • Entry requirements are normally 4-5 Highers, including Maths and Physics plus English at Standard grade or National 5.

  • There are a limited number of meteorology degrees in the UK. In Scotland, the University of Edinburgh offers a BSc which combines meteorology with either physics or geophysics.

  • Details of other degrees in meteorology are on the Royal Meteorological Society website.

  • Many entrants have a first degree in maths or physics and a postgraduate qualification in meteorology or a related subject. You need postgraduate study for research posts.

  • Some previous work experience in computing or in a laboratory is helpful.

  • It is an advantage if you can demonstrate an interest in weather and climate.

  • You may need to have a medical examination.

What Does It Take?

You need to be:

  • observant

  • precise and accurate in your work

  • good with figures and computers

  • self reliant and responsible

  • able to work alone or as part of a team.
You need to have:
  • an interest in science and the environment

  • an enquiring mind

  • good analytical skills

  • the ability to deal with large amounts of complex data

  • an aptitude for maths and physics

  • a logical approach to problem solving

  • good communication skills.

Training

  • After gaining your initial qualifications, training would be mainly on the job, combined with attendance at relevant courses.

  • The Met Office has a structured training programme which includes periods of attendance at its own training college.

  • You may also study part time for a postgraduate qualification, if you do not already have one.

  • You can become a Chartered Meteorologist (CMet) through the Royal Meteorological Society.

Getting On

  • The Met Office has a well established structure with a clear promotion path. It encourages its staff to apply for posts within the Met Office to broaden their experience and skills. For example you can move between research, forecasting, teaching and commercial work.

  • Other employers may have fewer routes for progression.

  • To gain experience and move on you may have to change your job and move around the country.

  • With a lot of experience you may be able to become an independent consultant.

Pay

The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:

  • where you work

  • the size of company or organisation you work for

  • the demand for the job.
The salary for a graduate trainee forecaster with the Meteorological Office is £18,000 a year. On completion of the training programme, this rises to £22,100 a year. With experience, earnings can be up to £35,000 a year.

More Information

The Met Office headquarters is in Exeter, but there are also centres throughout the UK. As well as reporting on the weather, the Met Office now provides more general environmental scientific and educational services. The Met Office also has international responsibilities as the Regional Specialised Met Centre (RSMC) for Emergency Response and a World Area Forecast Centre for Aviation.

Addresses

The following organisation(s) may be able to provide further information.

Met Office
Tel:  0870 900 0100
Minicom / Textphone: 
Fax: 
E-mail:  HRenquiries@metoffice.gov.uk
Website:  http://www.metoffice.gov.uk

Royal Meteorological Society
Tel:  0118 956 8500
Minicom / Textphone: 
Fax: 
E-mail:  cheifexec@rmets.org
Website:  http://www.rmets.org

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Polaris House
North Star Avenue
Swindon
SN2 1EU
Tel:  01793 411500
Minicom / Textphone: 
Fax: 
E-mail: 
Website:  http://www.nerc.ac.uk/

British Antarctic Survey
High Cross
Madingley Road
Cambridge
CB3 0ET
Tel:  01223 221400
Minicom / Textphone: 
Fax: 
E-mail: 
Website:  http://www.antarctica.ac.uk

Science Council
Hodgkin Huxley House
30 Farringdon Lane
Clerkenwell
London
EC1R 3AW
Tel:  020 3434 2020
Minicom / Textphone: 
Fax: 
E-mail: 
Website:  http://www.sciencecouncil.org/
Note:  The Science Council promotes the advancement and dissemination of knowledge of and education in science, technology, mathematics, computing and information technology. It awards the designation of Chartered Scientist (CSci) to those candidates who can meet the high standards required.

Research Councils UK (RCUK)
Polaris House
North Star Avenue
Swindon
Wiltshire
SN2 1ET
Tel:  01793 442818
Minicom / Textphone: 
Fax: 
E-mail:  info@rcuk.ac.uk
Website:  http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/careersinresearch
Website (2):  http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/skills/percase/booklets
Note:  RCUK's Careers in Research website. You can access an online suite of case studies about life as a researcher, or download case study booklets featuring researchers in different fields.