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Career profile: Meteorologist

Career profile: MeteorologistMeteorologists study the Earth's atmosphere to understand and predict climate and weather.

What is a meteorologist?

A meteorologist studies the atmosphere, climate, and weather of Earth in order to explain and predict weather conditions.

What does a meteorologist do?

A meteorologist’s work is normally focused on one of two areas: forecasting or research.

In forecasting, meteorologists collect data from satellites and weather stations to present to the public in weather forecasts. They will also create computer models generated from the data they collect and analyse. Forecasters usually work for forecasting organizations like the Met Office.

Like forecasters, meteorologists who focus on research monitor weather patterns and climate change. However, they will focus on advancing metrological knowledge – for example, improving climate models or designing better meteorological equipment. Researchers often work for universities, although the Met Office also does a significant amount of research.

How do I become a meteorologist?

Meteorologists need to have strong analytical, communications, problem-solving, and team-working skills.

At minimum, a graduate degree is required; subjects like meteorology, maths, physics, computer science and environmental science are preferred. A post-graduate degree is needed in order to obtain a research position. Prior work experience is recommended: bodies like the Royal Meteorological Society offer a limited amount of placements each year.

The Met Office is the largest employer of meteorologists in the UK, and salaries for graduates start around £21,000 a year. With experience, salaries can rise up to £35,000. Managers can make up to £60,000.

Forecasters often work 12 hour shifts in order to provide coverage round the clock. Researchers, on the other hand, typically work from 9-5.

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