We’ve all heard that the weather forecast can change every hour, but have you ever wondered why?
Meteorologists are weather reporters and climate experts with a keen passion for science, and working with data. It is an analytical role, requiring logical thinking, extensive research and monitoring of various weather patterns.
Being a meteorologist is an exciting prospect as it provides endless opportunities to learn and develop, and immerse yourself into a world of understanding how climate works.
What is a meteorologist?
A meteorologist's job is working with weather and climate and using scientific analysis of data to make predictions of weather patterns, forecasts and natural disasters. It’s about collecting and studying data from the atmosphere and oceans, to use as part of your prediction process.
As a meteorologist, your role is to use data from the sea, land and atmosphere to help study the weather and climate. This is done through mathematical and computerised models, to help make short to long-range weather forecasts and study climate conditions.
You will specialise in either weather forecasting or research. For the forecasting side of the role, you can provide weather predictions from numerous organisations such as farmers, government services, public services, the armed forces, the aviation industry, the media and many more.
It all depends on who you work for and the purpose of your position. The research side is studying the impact weather can have on the environment, and researching climate change and models of weather predictions.
A meteorologist is an analytical role, utilising data from various scientific techniques. Your responsibilities are divided, depending on if you are a weather forecaster or researcher.
A meteorologist and it’s essential to have a minimum of an undergraduate meteorology degree.
Forecaster responsibilities include:
- Collect data from remote sensors, satellite images, radar and weather stations globally.
- Measure various factors including temperature, humidity, air pressure and wind for different atmospheric levels.
- Analyse research and information using computer programmes to forecast the weather and present it to customers.
- Code reports and shares this information with international networks.
- Collaborate with clients and colleagues nationally and internationally.
- Apply knowledge, research and computer models to make short and long-range weather forecasts.
Researcher responsibilities include:
- Investigate and study various subjects such as global climate change, the physics of clouds and precipitation, airflow and other weather patterns.
- Develop various computer models to help with improving the accuracy of forecasts.
- Research and study how the weather can affect the spread of disease and pollution.
- Research climate predictions, seasonal and ocean forecasting.
- Investigate and monitor changes in the stratosphere.
- Use your research to predict floods, and droughts and estimate the effects of global warming.
The salary for a meteorologist can vary depending on your level of experience. The average meteorologist salary in the UK is around the £31,000 mark. For entry-level positions, you can earn anything between £13,000-£25,000. For more experienced roles, salaries can range from £43,000-£58,000+.
Working for a private organisation, the salary can vary and exceed the UK average, depending on the employer.
A meteorologist and it’s essential to have a minimum of an undergraduate meteorology degree.
The degree can either be in meteorology or a similar subject such as:
A postgraduate degree in meteorology or climatology is required if you aim to work in research and can be useful in increasing your chances for other types of work. The Royal Meteorological Society has more information about relevant degree subjects.
Applying for the Met Office, you will require a degree in one of the above subjects, maths at A-level and physics at AS-level or higher.
Gaining a higher national diploma (HND) is useful, but may need to be supplemented by other qualifications. Although, some organisations may accept you at this level if you have the relevant A-levels.
Training and development
Once qualified, you can apply to the Met Office as a trainee in their forecasting and observations course. You will complete it at the Met Office College to deepen your understanding and build forecasting experience. It takes two years and over that time, you will gain on-the-job training, the opportunity to work with real customers and develop your knowledge. When qualified, you can specialise in an area which interests you and progress further into senior roles.
If you are open to working whilst studying, an apprenticeship is a strong career move for you.
For the meteorologist role in general, continuing professional development (CPD) is encouraged and part of career progression. You may receive training such as short courses on the job or independently. The Met Office runs various short training courses covering forecasting, climate change and broadcasting, for anyone employed as a meteorologist. Other CPD activities can include mentoring junior staff, attending conferences and events and carrying out research.
To log all your CPD online, use the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) tool which is available to its members. You can join as a member of the RMetS at any level and it can help you search for CPD opportunities and build your knowledge. The RMetS can also help you achieve your Chartered Meteorologist status (CMet). You will require a minimum of five years of working in a meteorological-related role and be a member of RMetS to apply.
As a meteorologist, you need to have an analytical mind and work with numbers easily. These are the required skills for the role:
- Excellent mathematics, computing knowledge and skills.
- Great with attention to detail and accuracy.
- Strong knowledge of physics and geography.
- An analytical mind with good problem-solving skills.
- Great working within a team and having a collaborative approach to work.
- The ability to write scientific reports.
- Excellent communication skills, verbally, written and presentation.
- Use a computer and its software effectively.
- Enthusiasm, self-motivation and strong interest in meteorology and the environment.
- The ability to work with various people including in commercial, customer or operations settings.
If you are open to working whilst studying, an apprenticeship is a strong career move for you. The Met Office apprenticeships vary across their organisation such as engineering and technology, ranging from level 3 to level 6.
Gaining relevant work experience is crucial to helping you increase your chances of entering the career and progression. The Met Office summer placement schemes are 10 weeks and paid, covering areas including forecasting and science. The Met Office internships are designed for recent graduates and current students. Students who can do a year in placement as part of their degree can also apply for a 12-month placement at the Met Office.
The RMetS is a useful and essential professional body to join as a member of your career. Becoming a student member allows you to stay up to date with industry development, attend conferences and network with other students and professionals. You can also volunteer for roles within the society such as student ambassador to add to your experience.
Another area of work experience worth mentioning is computer modelling. As a significant part of a meteorologist's work, it’s useful to gain experience in coding language. This can be through a work experience placement or internship, and alternatively, through a project when completing your degree.
As a meteorologist, it’s usually a structured progression through your employer. However, you can change employers by switching from the Met Office to another weather forecasting company.
A meteorologist's job is working with weather and climate and using scientific analysis of data to make predictions of weather patterns, forecasts and natural disasters.
Met Office jobs can change all the time. They encourage you to manage your career and apply for posts within the organisation to move up the ranks and broaden your experience. You can move between different functions such as research, teaching, and personal or commercial roles. Meteorologist jobs can be located all over the UK and beyond. It’s essential to be flexible about moving around locations, as you will need to relocate to other regional centres to progress.
With years of experience, you can move into management or more senior positions such as a team leader, project leader or trainer roles. You can also travel further afield and work within other collaborative roles, for international companies.
For forecasting roles, you can progress into other sectors such as commercial forecasting services for private sectors, television, radio broadcaster and environmental consultancies for public sectors.
Progression in research roles is different. This progression involves gaining more responsibility such as becoming a supervisor or manager. You could supervise your team or choose the teaching route.
- Meteorologist yearly salaries in the United Kingdom at Met Office — Indeed.com Retrieved 30 September 2022.
- Meteorologist Salaries in United Kingdom — Glassdoor.co.uk Retrieved 30 September 2022.