Meteorologists are weather and climate scientists who study the Earth's atmosphere and how it affects the Earth's systems. They use observations and computer models to understand and predict the behaviour of weather and the climate.
Also known as
- Weather Forecaster
- Hydrography and Meteorology Officer
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As a Meteorologist, your main duty will be to study the changes in the weather and communicate your findings to the relevant sources.
Some other duties include:
- recording and analysing data from weather stations and satellites
- providing customers with your weather reports
- predicting climate change
- keeping up to date with the constant new technology
The Met Office is the UK's national meteorological service. It provides vital services, for example, to the general public, government and businesses. The Met Office has sophisticated telecommunications equipment and is able to deliver weather forecasts very quickly throughout the world.
This means that you communicate to meteorological services warnings of severe weather such as heavy rain, storms or severe wind and people can start to protect their homes.
As a Meteorologist, you could also provide your reports to the Government. This then means that the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy can use your weather reports to help with their rescue services.
You could also help big retail companies as the change in weather can affect the demand for the clothes brought by customers. For example, you could predict that there will be a heat wave next week, retailers may buy in more summer clothes such as shorts and t-shirts instead of jumpers and jeans!
As a Meteorologist, you will use your knowledge to solve problems. For example, you could suggest the best places to build oil rigs, based on your knowledge of gales, wave heights and storm tides, and help local councils tackle flood damage.
You could also develop and test new instruments, and communications and data-management systems. You would be involved in pure and applied research, in settings such as the Met Office, meteorology consultancy firms, specialist engineering companies and universities.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Meteorologist, you'll need:
- strong maths skills and knowledge of physics
- to be thorough, accurate and methodical when recording and analysing data
- computer skills to analyse results and model meteorological processes
- the ability to explain your findings clearly and concisely, including in written reports
- good teamwork skills
- an interest in environmental issues
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate:
- Starting: £29,500 – £33,500
- With experience: £36,000 - £43,000
- Senior Meteorologists earn £44,500
Hours of work
Meteorologists in the Met Office usually work a 37 hour week, which might include early starts, late finishes and work at weekends.
This could include shift work as the weather always changes so there needs to be a Meteorologist on hand at all times!
Where could I work?
The Met Office is the UK's national weather service. It employs most of its Meteorologists at its headquarters in Exeter. Other locations include the Aberdeen operations centre, and forecasters are also based at many Royal Air Force (RAF) and Army Air Corps (AAC) stations throughout the UK and in other countries. The Met Office also provides forecasters to the media.
Other major UK employers include the Royal Navy (both in observing and forecasting), private weather forecast companies, and government and academic research institutions. There can be opportunities in other industries, including agriculture, insurance, offshore oil companies and consultancy firms.
Meteorologists in research and consultancy might have the opportunity to travel to other countries.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on the Met Office website, on the 'Met-jobs' mailing list, in science magazines such as New Scientist (which also posts vacancies on its website), in national newspapers and on the Civil Service Jobs website.
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Entry Routes and Training
To become a Meteorologist, you will need a degree.
Once you have received the A levels that you need, you could start a degree in meteorology.
However, you do not need to study meteorology to become a Meteorologist. You could take a degree in computer science, ocean science or physics and still become a Meteorologist!
Some universities offer degree courses with a foundation year. This is an extra year for students who don't have the specified science A levels for entry.
You could take a course around meterology such as a BTEC, the International Baccalaureate Diploma, HND or HNC which could be benefical to get into this career and gain experience.
The Met Office offers a comprehensive training programme, including the Operational Foundation Meteorology Course. This will give you with the skills and knowledge to take up a post as a Forecaster.
Meteorologist courses are also available at the Royal Meteorological Society. These include accredited, vocational and informal courses to help you gain more experience in this career.
You could also sign up to The Royal Meteorological Society Chartered Meteorologist Accreditation Scheme. This awards individuals who have reached, and continue to maintain, a high level of competence in their specialist areas of meteorology.
Previous experience in Meteorology or computer science will be helpful to get into this career.
You could progress into a management position, or specialise in a particular area of meteorology.
For entry to a degree course in meteorology, the usual minimum requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels, including maths or physics
- GCSEs at grade C/4 and above in your A level subjects
- a further 2/3 GCSEs at grades C/4 and above, including English language
Alternatives to A levels include:
- BTEC level 3 qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
Civil Service Jobs
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Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Address: Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411500
Tel: 0207 997 7624
Address: FitzRoy Road, Exeter, Devon EX1 3PB
Tel: 0870 9000100
Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS)
Address: 104 Oxford Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 7LL
Tel: 0118 9568500
Meteorology, oceanography and climatology jobs published by Reading University