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Forecasting & Observations

  • Overview
  • Learning and development
  • What we look for
  • Places of work and opportunities

Overview

Whether you watched the weather on the TV this morning, listened to it on the radio or checked it on your phone, it’s highly likely that we are behind that forecast. While we’re probably best known for our UK radio and television bulletins, people and organisations all around the world rely on our meteorological expertise, summaries and advice. Our weather information supports flight safety and aviation routing around the globe, provides frontline support for the Armed Forces, saves people from hazardous climate conditions and helps the government to make fundamental decisions.

Operational delivery of our round the clock services is managed through the Observations and Forecasting & Service Delivery Programmes. Working hand in hand with our world leading scientists, customer services people, IT advisors and remote sensing experts we deliver reliable weather forecasts that add value to customer activities. We also provide predictions for the oceans, the dispersion of pollution, the source and spread of diseases and much more. With the issue of climate change becoming more prominent by the day, the work of these teams has never been more in demand. Our work is ever-evolving and constantly provides new, exciting challenges. Put simply, our teams are behind the weather and critical to Met Office business.

But how do we predict the ever-changing weather? It all starts with observations. Observational data forms the basis of operational meteorology. If we’re to get the weather as accurate as possible, those initial observations need to produce data of the highest quality. Our Observing networks and systems need to be capable of accurately measuring the atmosphere in all its complexity. The Observing teams are responsible for monitoring these complex networks to ensure the data is of the highest quality. This data is then fed into high performance numerical models and used by our operational meteorologists to predict the weather. The process doesn’t just end when we’ve produced a forecast. We are committed to ensuring that people can rely on our information. Verification is a key part of the process as we need to ensure our forecasts are accurate by looking closely at what the weather was doing at the time, also accurate observational data is required as supporting evidence for the decisions made by government and industry in response to climate change.

Right now, we’re exceeding accuracy targets and making predictions that are largely more accurate than they ever have been. That’s thanks to increased computing power, better data from our new satellite programme, enhanced data assimilation techniques and improved numerical models and algorithms. And of course, our brilliant people. Our operational meteorologists work closely with other areas of the organisation. Their bright ideas constantly help us to improve processes and come up with new ways that we can do things better and deliver the best results for our customers.

Furthermore if your passion lies with helping brilliant people to develop, then there are opportunities to join our expert training team in the Met Office College. Working at the heart of one of the most prestigious weather and climate centres in the world you can teach the science of meteorology to colleagues and customers across the UK and all around the world. Whether they’re a budding meteorologist, a pilot or an energy supply forecaster you can help bring the subject alive through one of our wide range of specialist courses.

Learning and development

Observations and forecasts are at the heart of all of our work making the Met Office the perfect place for those looking to build a career in these areas. There is nowhere else in the UK that can offer such expansive career opportunities in operational meteorology. Using our Professional Skills Frameworks, we’ll give you all the support and opportunities that you’d expect from a world-renowned weather and climate services organisation. You won’t be limited to forecasting or observations though: we’ll encourage you to move around and spend time in other departments too. That way you’ll get to see for yourself how vital your work is to other areas of the business.

Forecasting. Joining us as a Trainee Operational Meteorologist, you’ll complete our internationally-renowned Initial Forecasting Course at the Met Office College, one of the most respected meteorological training establishments in the world. The course is designed to deepen your understanding and build your operational forecasting experience. Over two years, we combine education, on-the-job training and the opportunity to provide real time products and services for real customers. Once you’re fully qualified, the opportunities are vast and varied. While you may specialise in an area that interests you, we’ll encourage you to experience other disciplines. Progression, it’s there for the taking: once you’ve gained a broad understanding of the business, you work to senior roles, learning at every step of the way.

There’s also the opportunity to return to the College and share all your knowledge and experience with others. To do this you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve keeping abreast of a host of issues from numerical modelling, technical applications and software, to the increasingly complex requirements of users of weather and climate services. Understanding these customer requirements and the impact of meteorology is just as important as being able to explain the fundamentals of the science behind weather and climate. All this expertise will of course stand you in good stead for your future career.

Observations. The route is similar for our Observations people. You’re encouraged to move around and experience different areas of the business. You’ll specialise your skills into a certain area of your choice and interest. We’ve teams working in Land Networks, Marine Networks, Upper Air & Remote Sensing, Quality Monitoring and Quality Assurance, but we’re always keen for our people to move around and diversify their skill set and see how different systems work.

What we look for

Operational Meteorology is a niche career areas, especially in the UK. So of course, we don’t expect you to know the ins-and-outs of the field when you come to us. You’ll need to be educated to degree (or equivalent) level with a proven interest in the weather. Your degree doesn’t have to be in meteorology though. We’ve had trainees qualified in Physics, Mathematics, and Environmental Studies, Geography and many other subjects, go on to build successful careers with us. We like inquisitiveness, people who are curious to learn more, people who aren’t afraid to question and are keen to find the answers. People who want to use their expertise and technical skills to have a visible impact on others’ lives. And importantly, people who have a drive to deliver excellent customer services and a desire to be part of an organisation whose key objective is to support the protection of life and infrastructure for the UK.

Operational Meteorologists. Our Operational Meteorology training is second-to-none and internationally renowned. We tend to recruit at graduate level so that you can take full advantage of these incredible learning opportunities. We do consider previously experienced meteorologists but if you’re coming from elsewhere, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you’ve been professionally trained and qualified to a high standard.

Joining us as an Operational Meteorologist, it’s really important that your softer skills are first class. The role is a lot more than just producing forecasts; it’s really all about the customers. You’ll apply your knowledge to advise customers on the impact the weather may have on their business. So you’ll need to be as confident interacting with and influencing customers as you are forecasting.

Observation roles. While observations roles involve less direct customer interaction, the customer is still key to the process. We recruit for a range of positions in Observations. Qualifications and experience will be made clear on our role advertisements. But for entry level roles, we tend to look for a physicals sciences degree (or equivalent). For the more senior positions, you’re likely to come to us with some relevant experience – for instance, you may have managed networks elsewhere.

Met Office College. You’ll be a first class communicator who loves the science but equally has a strong passion for developing others. To do this you have to be the best in your field, constantly honing your skills and keeping up to date with both your specialist subject and the wider world of education. We’ll support you so you can use all the latest tools and techniques to craft brilliant learning that inspires your colleagues and our customers.

Customer service and IT. Our Customer Service and IT people are crucial to our forecasting and observations work. It’s not just a case of picking up the phone when it rings; you’re a pillar of expertise for our customers. Your customer-focused nature and brilliant people skills will ensure that their queries are answered and followed up, or forwarded to the right people if necessary.

For these roles, it’s fundamental that you have an interest in the weather. And your personal attributes are really important. You need to be a confident and impressive communicator as your advice and guidance will be crucial to people and businesses. Having worked in a customer interaction role before, your customer service skills will be first class.

Places of work and opportunities

Training and customer services opportunities sit in our state-of-the-art Exeter Operational Centre. But a career in Operational Meteorology or in Observations can take you anywhere. We’ve a twin Operational Centre in Aberdeen and we also work at Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps stations throughout the UK and overseas. Our business is always changing so our people are encouraged to move around and experience new places, especially in their early careers. We have Operational Meteorologists working in Europe and as far away as the Antarctic and the South Atlantic. There are increasing opportunities to work alongside our customers as part of their teams and perhaps on their premises. We’re also focused on helping developing countries, such as Rwanda, to prepare and protect themselves from the effects of weather and climate conditions. Whilst the majority of observations staff are based in Exeter we have an office in Edinburgh who specialise in quality management, and sites in Camborne and Lerwick, which operate 24/7 taking atmospheric readings.

Mobile Met Unit (MMU). As a Royal Air Force sponsored reserve unit, the Met Office MMU provides vital frontline meteorological support to our Armed Forces in operations across the UK and abroad. The MMU is mainly made up of Operational Meteorologists and Engineers. It’s a highly rewarding and highly demanding opportunity to work very closely with the military. Wherever they’re assigned to, MMU teams work quickly to establish a fully functioning Met Office, regardless of their conditions. Often meteorological services will need to be provided within hours of arriving. You’ll receive specialist training not only from us but from the RAF too and there’ll be opportunities to attend military adventure training events such as sailing and skiing.

Marine Offshore Consultancy. Our Marine Offshore Consultancy gives Operational Meteorologists the exciting opportunity to work at sea providing essential services to the commercial marine industry. Many of these customers are high profile global companies and you’ll be an integral source of meteorological expertise and advice for them.

Met Office College. As a trainer in the Met Office College you’ll have the chance to work with diverse teams both within the Met Office and across our range of commercial and public sector customers. This could mean anything from delivering a short course about space weather to Met Office staff at RAF stations, teaching how to do aeronautical observations at Changi Airport in Singapore, helping a group of private pilots at the Met Office College in Exeter make safer decisions about the weather or facilitating a workshop in Rwanda that helps a team of forecasters communicate severe weather events to their stakeholders. The variety of opportunities is immense.

Have a read through our Trainee Operational Meteorologists prospectus (PDF) to find out more.