JOB PROFILE: Meteorologist

Qualifications and courses

Entrants to this profession need a degree accredited by the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) and postgraduate degrees are often necessary for employment. Degrees in meteorology are available, but other suitable subjects include physics, maths, computer science, oceanography and environmental science. The general entry requirements for a degree are 2 A levels/3 H grades and 5 GCSEs/National 5s at grade C or above, or 4-9 in England, and some employers may also require A levels/H grades in Maths and Physics.

Relevant postgraduate courses are available and a requisite of research posts. Subject areas include meteorology, climatology and atmospheric science.

The Met Office Operational Meteorologist Foundation Training Programme (OMFTP) povides initial training for new entrants. You will need a 2.1. bachelor's degree or equivalent in meteorology, maths or a physical science and AS/H grades in Maths and Physics for entry.

If successful, you will undertake the Operational Meteorologist Foundation Course (OMFC), which is split into 4 blocks lasting 36 weeks, which are split between the Met Office College in Exeter, operation Met Office environments and sponsoring institutions. This is followed by approximately 20 weeks of on-the-job training and a final assessment of competence. You will be required to complete the Level 5 Award in Meteorological Briefing and the Level 5 Diploma in Meteorological Forecasting in order to qualify as an operational meteorologist and work unsupervised.

 A 6-week Foundation Meteorological Technicians course is also available at the Met Office. The course meets the educational requirements for a registered meteorologist.

Graduates with 5 years experience can apply for chartered meteorological status (CMet).


What the work involves

Meteorologists use information gained from observing the sky, the atmosphere and natural phenomena to give a picture of everyday weather conditions.

As well as providing weather forecast information that is used throughout the media and to inform industries such as fishing, meteorologists undertake research into the Earth's atmosphere. You could be employed by the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Met Office or other employers.

You will be using specialist computer programs and mathematical modelling to gather information, which you will combine in order to form a weather picture. Within meteorology you can work as a forecaster or a researcher.


Type of person suited to this work

You should have a strong interest in the environment, science, research and climate change. You will need to excel in maths and physics.

The job calls for the ability to problem solve and think creatively to resolve specific issues. You should be happy to work in various locations, however remote. The job demands excellent observational skills and attention to detail.

You should be able to comprehend and evaluate complex information. You must be able to communicate effectively, both in person and on paper. You will be computer literate, and work well as part of a team.


Working conditions

You will generally conduct your work from an office environment, using specialised computers.

When you are working in the field you could be living and working in extremely isolated areas with basic living conditions.

Researchers generally work ordinary office hours. Forecasters and observers however will usually work in shifts. When working in the field you will not usually have set hours. However, the most common shift working pattern is 12 hours covering days and nights.


Future prospects

There are 3 main areas that a meteorologist can work in: these are forecasting, research and teaching. You may wish to move between them in order to progress.

Once you have gained experience as a forecaster you might be able to move into broadcasting, research or consultancy work. You could also teach at the Met Office College.

There could be the possibility of working abroad.


Advantages/disadvantages

You may have the opportunity to study and observe the natural world in a variety of locations.

You might have to work inconvenient shifts.

There is a wide variety of work within this industry so you shouldn't get bored.

Employers increasingly require applicants to have a postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject.


Money guide

The starting salary for a trainee operational meteorologist at the Met Office is approximately £20,000, rising to £23,000 on completion of training.

Experienced meteorologists can earn between £25,000 and £35,000 a year.

As a manager you could earn from £38,000 to in excess of £60,000 per year.


Further information


Content generously provided by Indigo Trotman.


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