Meteorologist: job description

Last updated: 19 Jul 2023, 08:53

Meteorologists use a variety of scientific techniques to understand, interpret, observe and predict the earth's atmosphere and its phenomena.

A Skyscraper and other tall buildings appearing above the clouds.

Meteorologist : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Meteorologists study the earth’s atmosphere to forecast weather conditions and as part of research into longer-term climate changes.

Typical duties include:

  • recording, analysing and interpreting data from maps, weather stations around the world, satellites, radars and other sources to make long- and short-range weather predictions.
  • using mathematical formulae and computer modelling applications as part of research or forecasting work.
  • researching climate change and other weather-related phenomena.
  • helping to improve weather prediction models.
  • writing research papers, reports, reviews and summaries.
  • keeping up to date with relevant scientific and technical developments.

The nature of meteorology means that you may need to travel – both to remote locations and to conferences. You may also need to work long hours to ensure that weather predictions are kept up to date.

Note that media weather presenters are not always meteorologists.

Graduate salaries

Specialist jobs boards report that trainee operational meteorologists at the Meteorological Office (Met Office) in the UK earn around £20,000 initially. Once you’re qualified, you’ll earn around £31,000.

Early-career academic roles in meteorology – for example, postdoctoral research assistant positions – tend to offer starting salaries of around £31,000.

Typical employers of meteorologists

  • The Meteorological Office.
  • Specialist consultancies.
  • Media networks.
  • Universities.
  • The Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) .
  • British Antarctic Survey.
  • The RAF, via its mobile meteorological unit.
  • The Royal Navy, via its flag officer sea training group.
  • International bodies such as the World Meteorological Organization.

Vacancies are advertised via careers services and university departments. Specialist recruitment agencies also advertise roles, although these tend to be for more experienced staff.

The recruitment process could involve a technical interview. Read our article on technical interviews to find out what these involve and how you can tackle them.

Qualifications and training required

You can only become a meteorologist if you have a good degree (a 2.1 or higher) in a STEM subject such as meteorology, mathematics, physical sciences, computer science or environmental science. The Royal Meteorological Society publishes a list of degrees it has accredited.

A postgraduate qualification (a PhD or research-based MSc) is also beneficial for operational roles, and will be essential for research positions. Check out our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.

Once you’re employed, you can continue working towards professional recognition, which include chartership with the Royal Meteorological Society.

Practical work experience will be beneficial when applying for graduate jobs. The Met Office offers year-long placements for students taking sandwich courses as well as summer placements. Placements are also sometimes available with the British Antarctic Survey.

School leavers can join the Met Office as apprentices, although these roles don’t lead directly to work as a meteorologist.

Key skills for meteorologists

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