Meteorologist: job description

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

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Meteorologists often choose to specialise in either forecasting or research.

What does a meteorologist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Meteorologists study the earth’s atmosphere – particularly climate and weather – in order to forecast weather conditions.

The main duties of meteorologists include:

  • recording and analysing data from worldwide weather stations, satellites, radars and remote sensors
  • interpreting observations from the land, sea and upper atmosphere
  • providing customers (such as civil aviation companies, broadcast companies and military units) with weather reports/forecasts
  • employing mathematical and physical formulae and using computer modelling applications to help make long and short range weather predictions
  • researching and predicting climate change
  • helping to improve weather prediction models
  • writing research papers, reports, reviews and summaries
  • keeping up to date with relevant scientific and technical developments

Typical employers of meteorologists

  • The Met Office
  • BBC
  • Environmental consultancies
  • Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC)
  • Research centres
  • British Antarctic Survey
  • The armed forces

Vacancies are advertised via the internet, by careers services, in national newspapers and in relevant scientific publications such as New Scientist, Science and Nature. Speculative applications are recommended, since roles aren’t always heavily advertised.

  • The recruitment process is likely to 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 an appropriate subject such as meteorology, mathematics, physical sciences, computer science or environmental science. A relevant postgraduate qualification (a PhD or research-based MSc) is also beneficial, and may be necessary for research positions. A range of degrees are accredited by the Royal Meteorological Society.

Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.

Practical work experience can be beneficial: the Met Office provides a few industrial placements and summer placements each year, although these attract competition.

Key skills for meteorologists

  • Analytical skills
  • Genuine interest in weather systems
  • Teamworking skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Mathematical abilities

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