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Ian Morley - Field Services Engineer

How long have you worked at the Met Office?

Six years ago now, I received a call from my grandma telling me about a job she’d seen advertised in the paper that she thought I’d be good at. It was for a Field Services Engineer at the Met Office.

What attracted you to the Met Office?

I think what initially attracted me to the role was the fact that it was close to home but also gave me the chance to get out and visit different places so I wouldn’t be stuck at my desk all day. Six years on, that’s still the thing I love most about the role. That freedom and variety of travelling around. You never know where you’re going to be or what you’ll be fixing. As an Engineer, it’s also been interesting to work with such niche systems. It’s my job to look after vital observing instruments which are used to generate forecasts that millions of people rely on. I think there’s only about 25 Field Service Engineers in the UK so it’s a lot of responsibility. Engineering skills are transferable but there’s nowhere else in the world that I’d be able to work with weather and climate instruments on this scale. It gives my role lots of variety – one day, I could be climbing wind masts and radar towers and the next fixing complex temperature and rain gauges. The Met Office give you plenty of specialist training on their equipment and instruments – you’re not expected to just go off climbing up these huge fixtures!

What is a typical day?

My days normally start off in the same way: I arrive at work, log into our incident management database to see what faults have been raised in our area and go off and look at these. If no faults have been raised, the database flags up maintenance visits and we’ll go and perform all-important routine checks. There are around 70 sites in my area which include RAF bases, universities, insurance and utility companies and many more. For many organisations, it’s business critical that instruments are in perfect working order. For example, aircrafts rely on the wind direction to know if it’s safe to take off so it’s crucial that we calibrate them correctly.

Best thing about working for the Met Office?

The variety keeps it really exciting. There’s always loads going on at the Met Office. Not only do I get to go to different places and work on different, unique instruments but there are also plenty of opportunities to get involved with new things. There’s another team of engineers who specialise in the marine networks, I don’t think I’d fancy the water but if I wanted to get involved with that, I could. Above ground, there are loads of appealing opportunities. We have sites all over: Gibraltar, Germany, Cyprus and that’s just to name a few. I spent some time working out in the Falkland Islands which was really interesting. The Met Office is focused on continued professional development, if there’s a course you want to do or you want to spend six months trying out a different department, they’ll support you.

Being an engineer is a hugely satisfying role as it is because you’re fixing things, making sure everything works. But at the Met Office, there’s an even greater sense of pride as your work has a direct impact on people’s lives. Whether you’re maintaining the observations stations that are used to predict the weather or fixing a fault so a plane can take off safely, it all links in to the bigger picture.  You’re not just fixing what’s broken, you’re providing a public service and helping to make a difference. And I don’t think you’d find that anywhere else.