How to become a meteorologist
Has the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness inspired you to turn over a new leaf?
At this time of the year (more so than usual) the weather seems to be the nation’s favourite topic of conversation – and more often than not a brief exchange about the current conditions will be swiftly followed by a prediction about the coming days… it seems everyone has a weather forecaster within them waiting to get out. But what if you actually want to become a weather forecaster or to be more specific a meteorologist? How would you go about turning your passion for precipitation into an exciting career? Here’s some of the things you’ll need to know.
What exactly is a Meteorologist?
A meteorologist is a person with a specialised education who uses scientific principles to explain, observe and forecast atmospheric phenomena. A meteorologist’s work will generally be divided up into two categories; research and forecasting.
Research is aimed at developing understanding of climate and weather and how these are affected by a range of factors including; ocean temperatures/currents, atmospheric compositions, deforestation and so on.
Forecasting (as the name suggests) is focussed on attempting to predict what the condition of the atmosphere will be like in the near future – it involves data collection, analysis and presentation of findings.
What qualifications do you need?
From the description you will have guessed that being a meteorologist is not a job that you can take up on a whim – it requires many years of education, a wide range of qualifications and the proven skills and enthusiasm to succeed.
You will normally find that to gain an entry level position (or a position on a post graduate training course) within a company such as the Met Office or Met Eireann you will need a 2.1 Bachelors degree in a physical science or mathematical subject as well as a strong pass grade in A-level physics (or equivalent). The degree subjects which are normally acceptable include meteorology, environmental sciences, mathematics, physics and software engineering.
The completion of a further weather forecasting training course at a meteorological college will give you excellent prospects of securing a permanent position (although it’s definitely not a guarantee). Be sure to visit the relevant web page to get all the information you will need on postgraduate training courses and application details.
What skills do you need to have?
As with any job there are qualities and characteristics which are implicit e.g. presentability, punctuality, well mannered etc. but here are a few which are more specific to being a successful meteorologist
Obviously a deep and demonstrable passion for weather and climate is essential.
Much of a meteorologist’s work involves equations, graphs and charts so a well developed knowledge and understand of mathematics is very important.
The work activities of a meteorologist require the highest level of accuracy, so you must be meticulous and be able to carry out tasks with strenuous attention to detail.
Excellent IT skills and the ability to further develop these in line with new technologies/softwares.
A large part of a meteorologist’s job is synthesising complex information in scientific reports and to colleagues so highly tuned written and verbal communication skills will come in very handy.
So now you know! Still fancy becoming a meteorologist or prefer to maintain your amateur status? Best of luck either way!