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Meteorologist Profile

 
Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Meteorologist. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Meteorologist
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Meteorologist Work Information


Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Meteorologists study the earth's atmosphere, climate and weather systems, interpreting data collected by satellite, radar, and remote sensors on aircraft, ships and weather stations all over the world to make short- and long-term forecasts. The data is analysed using complex mathematical and computer models, and reports are produced for a variety of customers including the armed forces, the media, and industries such as agriculture, aviation, sea transport, communications and the oil industry.

There are many areas of specialism in meteorology, but the work can be separated into two main types:

Forecasting taking variables such as air pressure, wind, temperature and humidity at various atmospheric levels, and applying principles of physics and mathematics to make predictions.

Research this may include examining the causes and effects of weather patterns and global climate change, the development of instruments and theoretical and computer models to gather and interpret atmospheric data, and study transport and effects of pollutants.

Meteorologists may be consulted in the planning stages of projects such as the siting of rigs in the offshore oil industry, or in certain structural engineering schemes where their expertise is critical. They write technical reports and make presentations to other professionals engaged in the project, highlighting any potential problems and recommending appropriate action.

All work involves extensive use of computers and specialist software. Those in senior positions may have some managerial responsibilities.

Hours and Environment

Those engaged in research typically work 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday with occasional extra hours, while forecast work could involve rotating shifts to provide continuous cover.

Work is mainly office-based and involves use of technical equipment and computers, although some postings to isolated or remote areas may mean more basic conditions. There may be occasional travel to attend conferences, sometimes overseas, and some employers will post staff to different locations around the world.

Skills and Interests

To be a meteorologist you should:

  • have strong mathematical and computing skills
  • have a methodical and analytical approach to work
  • be of an enquiring nature and able to plan research projects
  • have good problem-solving skills and be able to evaluate complex data
  • be interested in environmental sciences
  • communicate well with a broad range of people, both verbally and in writing
  • work well alongside colleagues and other professionals
  • have business awareness and managerial skills to progress in the career.


Entry

It is sometimes possible to enter the profession at assistant level with A levels or a higher national certificate (HNC) in mathematical or physical science subjects, but most positions require a degree at 2:1 or better. Some employers also specify A level passes in mathematics and physics, and most will want to see evidence of relevant scientific experience or project work the Met Office has a small number of summer work placements available each year at its headquarters.

Degrees in meteorology are offered by a number of universities, but any mathematics or physics-related subject such as physical or environmental science, oceanography, engineering, electronics or computing would be useful. Entry requirements for degree courses are two or three A levels/Highers, plus five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3). Alternative qualifications may be accepted.

For details of qualification equivalents see:

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Scottish Qualifications Authority
An Access to Higher Education qualification may also be accepted for entry to certain courses. If experienced in a related field, you may be able to gain recognition of skills through Accredited Prior Learning (APL). Please check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements.

A postgraduate qualification in a subject such as meteorology, climatology or atmospheric sciences is usually needed to secure a research post. A list of meteorology-related courses in British universities is available from the Royal Meteorological Society.

Training

The Met Office delivers most of the training for meteorologists in the UK at its college in Torquay. Trainees include its own employees and those from other organisations.

New entrants without a postgraduate qualification follow the Foundation Training Programme, which begins with 18 weeks' full-time attendance for the Initial Forecasting Course. All the underpinning knowledge required for forecasting is studied during this period. The trainee then has around eight months' practical training at an operational weather station, typically an RAF base or weather centre. Finally, the three-week Forecasting Consolidation Course is taken, where trainees are assessed on their ability to apply their theoretical knowledge and skills.

Meteorologists are encouraged to continue studying throughout their career. Professional development courses covering specialist areas of meteorology are offered by the Met Office. The Royal Meteorological Society has developed the Chartered Meteorologist Accreditation Scheme, with the aim of conferring similar status as chartered accreditation in other professions such as accountancy, engineering, physics and surveying. To achieve Chartered Meteorologist (CMet) accreditation, candidates must demonstrate a high level of specialist knowledge and have extensive experience within the profession.

NVQs/SVQs for experienced observers and forecasters are also available - Meteorological Observation at Level 3, and Weather Forecasting at Level 4.

Some employers encourage meteorologists to acquire supplementary skills by taking courses in programming, mathematical modelling, graphics or presentation skills.

Opportunities

The majority of Britain's meteorologists work for the Met Office at its headquarters in Exeter or one of 80 branch offices in the UK and abroad. Staff employed in the Mobile Met Unit are attached to the Royal Air Force and may be deployed around the world on military exercises and operations.

Other employers include the Natural Environment Research Council's oceanographic and hydrological institutes, the British Antarctic Survey, agricultural and fisheries institutes, and various United Nations technical aid programmes. Service industries supplying gas, electricity, oil and water employ small numbers of meteorologists, as do environmental consultancies, instrument manufacturers and broadcasters. Universities offer some positions in teaching and research.

Promotion is based on competence, and in some organisations may involve relocating. Employers such as the Met Office provide opportunities to work in roles varying from research, forecasting and teaching, to management, personnel and commercial posts.

Meteorologists are unlikely to be self-employed or engaged in freelance work, although this happens very occasionally at senior levels.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline.

Starting salaries for recent graduates may be around £16,000 a year.
Experienced meteorologists could earn up to £25,000.
Those in management positions may earn in excess of £30,000.

Shift allowances may be paid in some posts.

Further information

The Met Office
FitzRoy Road
Exeter
Devon
EX1 3PB
www.metoffice.com

The Royal Meteorological Society
104 Oxford Road
Reading
Berkshire
RG1 7LL
www.royal-met-soc.org.uk

Institute of Physics
76 Portland Place
London
W1B 1NT
www.iop.org

Other Useful Meteorologist Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Meteorologist job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Meteorologist Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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