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Career Spotlights ~ Meteorologist
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Basic Info
  • Hour: 30 - 40 per week
  • Starting Salary: £20,000 + per year

If you are good at Maths and Computing, and are interested in weather systems and the environment, this job could suit you well. Meteorologists study the Earth's atmosphere, climate and weather. They collect and interpret data to make weather forecasts, not only for the general public but also for us in agriculture, aviation and the Armed Forces. In this job you would need to methodical. You would need to have an enquiring mind and be good at solving problems. You would deal with a lot of data in this job, so you would have to be good at analysing it. To get into this job, you will need a first or upper second class degree in a subject such as Meteorology, Maths, a Science or Computer Science. For many Meteorology research jobs, you may also need a postgraduate qualification in a subject such as Meteorology or Climatology.

The Work

As a Meteoroloist you could specialise in one of two main areas - forecasting or researching. In forecasting, you might:

  • Collect data from Satellite images, radar, remote sensors and weather stations all over the world
  • Measure air pressure, wind, temperature and humidity
  • Apply computer models and scientific principles to make short-range and long-range weather forecasts
  • Supply weather data, bulletins and reports to customers

In research, you might:

  • Investigate weather patterns and climate change
  • Develop and improve computer forecasting models
  • Apply research to practical problems, such as predicting floods or how the weather affects the spread of pollution or disease

At the start of your career in either area, you might observe and record the weather, produce charts and help senior staf. With experience, you would take on more complex work and present your findings at client meetings and conferences

Hours

As a forecaster or observer, you would often work shifts to provide 24-hour cover. In research you would work standard office hours Monday to Friday. The work is mainly office-based and involves using technical equipment and computers. You could be posted to some isolated or remote areas, which may mean working in more basic conditions. You may sometimes travel to attend conferences in the UK and overseas. Depending on your employer, you may be sent abroad to work

Income

Starting salaries for Met Office forecasters or scientists are around £20,000 a year. Experienced Meteorologists could earn between £25,000 and £35,000 a year. Meteorologists with management responsibilities may earn over £50,000.

Entry Requirements

To work in forecasting or research, you will need the following qualifications:

  • A first or upper second class degree in Meteorology, Maths, a Science or Computer Science
  • A Levels in Maths and/or Physics
  • Five GCSEs (A*-C), including English

For many Meteorology research jobs, you are also likely to need a postgraduate qualification in Meteorology, Climatology or Atmospheric Sciences. You should check exact course entry requirements with colleges or Universities.

Training and Development

As a forecaster, you would mainly be trained at the Met Office college in Devon (trainees include Met Office employees and those working for other organisations). You would start with the Forecaster Foundation Training Programme, which involves:

  • A six-week full-time initial training course, followed by three months' practical training at an operational weather station
  • A further 14-week training course
  • 20 weeks' further on-the-job training, followed by final assessment

After your initial training, you will be able to prove your competence by working towards NVQ Level 3 in Weather Observing and NVQ Level 4 in Weather Forecasting. Once qualified you are encouraged to develop your skills throughout your career. The Met Office College offers further training such as:

  • The Professional Development Programme, which includes an Advanced Forecasting Course - For forecasters with two or three years' experience
  • Short courses in various specialist aspects of forecasting
Skills and Knowledge

To be a Meteoroloist you should have:

  • Excellent Mathematical and Computing skills
  • Good spoken and written communication skills
  • A methodical approach to work
  • The ability to analyse complex data
  • An enquiring mind
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • An interest in Science and the Environment
  • The ability to work well as part of a team

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