Meteorologists are concerned with the weather and climate and carry out scientific analysis of data to make predictions

As a meteorologist, you'll study the weather and climate, using data from the land, sea and atmosphere. You'll need to use computerised and mathematical models to make short and long-range weather forecasts and study climate patterns and conditions.

You'll typically specialise in either weather forecasting or research. In forecasting, you can provide weather predictions for a variety of organisations including:

  • the aviation industry
  • farmers
  • government services, e.g. for advice on climate change policy
  • health services
  • industry and retail businesses
  • insurance companies
  • public services
  • sailing organisations and offshore companies
  • the armed forces
  • the media
  • the shipping and sea fishing industries.

Within research, you could study the impact of weather on the environment and conduct research into weather patterns, climate change and models of weather prediction.


In weather forecasting, you'll need to:

  • collect data from satellite images, radar, remote sensors and weather stations all over the world
  • measure factors such as air pressure, temperature and humidity at various atmospheric levels
  • analyse and present this information to customers in the form of weather briefings
  • code weather reports for transmission over international networks
  • apply physical and mathematical relationships and sophisticated computer models to make short and long-range weather forecasts
  • liaise with colleagues and clients from around the country and worldwide.

In research, you'll need to:

  • investigate subjects such as airflow in the lowest kilometre of the atmosphere, the physics of clouds and precipitation, or global climate change
  • develop and improve numerical and computer models to predict atmospheric processes and improve the accuracy of forecasts
  • monitor climate variability and change
  • research seasonal forecasting, ocean forecasting and climate prediction
  • monitor and investigate changes in the stratosphere (ten to 50km above the Earth), including the ozone layer
  • apply the results of research in order, for example, to give flood warnings or estimate the likely effects of global warming.


  • Salaries for foundation operational meteorologists (FOM) start at £26,954. The pay for those on 12-month industrial placements at the Met Office is £25,606 and this can lead to a place on a graduate development scheme.
  • Experienced and senior meteorologists can expect to earn salaries between £36,000 and £42,000.
  • Expert meteorologists and those in managerial positions earn from £38,000 to over £60,000.

Most posts attract additional benefits, such as bonuses, shift allowance, pension and access to discounted shopping. In the academic sector, your salary will usually be set on university postdoctoral research scales. Salaries in private organisations vary.

Income figures are intended as a guide only.

Working hours

Shift work is typical at the Met Office as forecasts need to be provided around the clock. It's likely you'll be required to work 12-hour shifts covering days, nights and weekends.

If you're working in research your usual hours will be 9am to 5pm, possibly with some overtime. It's unlikely that there'll be standard hours when working in the field.

What to expect

  • Most of the 2,000 Met Office staff are based in Exeter, with the rest working from 60 other locations around the UK, including a Marine Centre of Excellence in Aberdeen and at Heathrow Airport. Some jobs are situated abroad, with staff working in locations such as The Falkland Islands, Gibraltar and Cyprus.
  • Operational meteorologists can work at defence bases across the UK supporting military operations of the RAF, Army and Navy. Plus, around 30 personnel work for the Mobile Met Unit (MMU), which is attached to the RAF and may be deployed on exercises around the world. Often establishing a base with limited infrastructure, using portable equipment.
  • Most work is carried out in comfortable, spacious environments, but depending on the role you may be required to work in remote areas or on military operations, where conditions are often more basic. This can also mean considerable periods away from friends and family.
  • Shift work is common. Instrument and measurement scientists often work in the field. A smart appearance is essential for forecasters working on television.
  • Travel within a typical working day is uncommon. Overnight absence from home and overseas work may be required, for example, to attend conferences, depending on the post you hold.
  • See the Met Office's Equality, diversity and inclusion strategy for details of how it aims to promote and support EDI in its workforce.


To become a meteorologist you must have a degree. Most commonly this will be meteorology, maths or physics, but increasingly graduates begin their meteorological careers with other accepted subjects, such as:

  • computing/computer science
  • data science
  • electronics
  • environmental sciences
  • ocean science
  • physical geography
  • physical sciences
  • software engineering.

A list of meteorology-related degree courses in the UK is available at RMetS Courses. The list also specifies which degrees meet the requirements of the Society's Chartered Meteorologist Accreditation Scheme.

The Met Office usually asks for a degree or equivalent in either meteorology, a physical science, mathematical or engineering subject, plus an ability in maths at A-level and physics at AS-level or higher (or equivalent). You'll also need to demonstrate your interest in the weather. Other employers will look for similar qualifications and qualities.

The Met Office has restructured its operational meteorologist role into a foundation operational meteorologist (FOM) post. This comes with a new associated training pathway in the form of a graduate programme that is designed to support those entering the operational meteorologist (OpMet) profession. This will be a progression role and the programme will deliver learning and development that meets the needs of the individual, ensuring they make continual progress towards becoming a qualified OpMet.  

Entry with an HND/foundation degree only is rare. However, some organisations may accept you at this level if you also have relevant A-levels in maths and/or physics.

A meteorology-related postgraduate degree is required for research posts and, although not essential for other types of work, may increase your chances of appointment to meteorology positions generally.


You'll need to show:

  • mathematical and computing ability
  • good problem-solving skills
  • attention to detail and accuracy
  • ability to write scientific reports
  • a team-orientated approach to work
  • the ability to interact with a range of people - especially important in the more commercial, customer-orientated environment of operational forecasting
  • enthusiasm and a genuine interest in meteorology and the environment.

Work experience

Relevant work experience or project work will increase your chances.

For information about The Met Office work experience placements and bespoke development opportunities, see Apprentices, Graduates and Placements.

These include:

  • a graduate programme designed to support and prepare new entrants to the operational meteorologist (OpMet) profession.
  • a 10-week paid summer placement scheme in areas including science and forecasting, which lasts for three months. Recent graduates and current students can apply.
  • an industrial placement for 12 months, which you can apply for if you're on a sandwich course in a relevant degree.

Becoming a student member of the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) is helpful as you will be able to stay up to date with developments in the field, network with other students and professionals, join groups and attend conferences. You can also volunteer with the society in roles such as an editor on one of its journals, a student ambassador or mentor. Find out more at RMetS Student and Early Careers Membership.

As computer modelling is a major part of a meteorologist's work, it's helpful to gain some experience of this and to try to learn a coding language, either through relevant work experience or by completing a degree project with computer modelling as a strong component.

Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.


The largest employer of meteorologists in the UK is the Met Office. It incorporates the Met Office Hadley Centre, a world-renowned centre for advanced climate modelling and monitoring.

Most employees are based at the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, or their twin operational centre in Aberdeen, but there are many smaller offices and remote centres across the country - as well as overseas locations including Africa, the South Atlantic and the Antarctic.

A subsidiary of the Met Office is the Mobile Met Unit (MMU), whose staff are attached to Royal Air Force (RAF) units and may be employed throughout the world on both military exercises and operations.

You can also find work in research centres, such as the:

  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) - in its meteorological, oceanographic and hydrological institutes, e.g. the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS)
  • Walker Institute - for climate system research, based at the University of Reading.

Other employers include:

  • government departments, such as the Environment Agency (EA)
  • universities which offer degrees in meteorology, and which typically have active research departments
  • the Royal Navy
  • agricultural and fisheries institutes
  • service industries, such as oil, gas and water suppliers
  • environmental consultancies - for a list see the ENDS Environmental Consultancy Directory
  • private sector weather service providers
  • the insurance industry
  • media organisations.

Look for job vacancies at:

Make sure you research organisations thoroughly and consider sending speculative applications where appropriate.

Professional development

Continuing professional development is actively encouraged and is considered a vital part of career progression. Training can include short courses on programming, mathematical modelling, graphics and presentation skills.

The Met Office runs short training courses across the year which are open to anyone employed as a meteorologist. Areas covered include broadcasting, forecasting for the different transport sectors and climate change.

A variety of free online meteorological courses are available at MetEd.

In addition to formal training courses, other activities that count towards your CPD include:

  • attending conferences and events
  • writing papers and articles and/or presenting them
  • mentoring junior staff
  • carrying out research and reading sector information.

RMetS provides an online tool to use for recording your CPD activities, available to its members.

RMetS also provides a route to Chartered Meteorologist status (CMet) for those who have reached and continue to maintain a high level of knowledge and experience. You’ll need to have been working in a meteorological-related role for at least five years and will need to be a member of RMetS to apply. Find out more at RMetS Chartered Meteorologist (CMet).

If you work in academic research, you'll be expected to have sufficient research skills and be able to make an immediate contribution. Part of your ongoing development will be to keep up to date with advances in the field by reading the appropriate literature, attending and presenting at conferences and networking with colleagues.

Career prospects

Your career path may be defined by the employer you work for but it's also possible to move between employers, such as from the Met Office to a private weather forecasting company.

If employed by the Met Office, you'll be encouraged to manage your own career and to apply for posts within the organisation to broaden your experience and widen your skills and knowledge base. It's possible to move between functions, such as research, forecasting, teaching, personnel and more commercial roles.

Most positions are located at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter, but when you start out in forecasting, you may need to move around the country in order to progress.

With experience, you may move on to a management position, such as project or team leader, or into a trainer role. There are also opportunities for collaborative work with other organisations throughout the world.

In forecasting roles, you may develop your career with organisations such as commercial forecasting services in the private sector, environmental consultancies, utility companies or television or radio broadcasters.

Within research, career progression involves taking on increased responsibilities, such as supervising and managing projects. You could move on to more senior or managerial positions and may supervise your own team. Or you could choose to move into lecturing and teaching.

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