How to become a Meteorologist

Meteorologists forecast the weather and study the atmosphere to improve the understanding of climate.

Personal requirements of a Meteorologist

  • Enjoy and have aptitude for science (especially physics) and mathematics
  • Flexible and resourceful
  • Interested in the provision of meteorological services to the community

Education & Training for a Meteorologist

To become a meteorologist you usually have to study atmospheric science, mathematical and computer sciences, mathematics and statistics, ocean and climate sciences or physics at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, earth and environmental science, and physics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Meteorologist

Meteorologists may perform the following tasks:

  • use and develop scientific techniques to forecast and interpret atmospheric conditions
  • analyse and interpret surface, upper-level and other measurements (including satellite images and other remote sensing data about atmospheric conditions)
  • prepare weather forecasts for the public as well as specific users such as aviation, marine, defence and emergency services
  • issue warnings for cyclones, storms, gales, floods, frosts and fire danger
  • study climate and identify climatic change
  • work with physicists and engineers to develop observation equipment and distribute information on topics such as air pollution
  • supervise and coordinate the work of other meteorologists, technical officers and meteorological observers
  • carry out weather studies for particular clients.

Working conditions for a Meteorologist

Meteorologists in forecasting positions usually work in shifts. Operational meteorologists may work in field station locations throughout Australia and its territories, from the tropics to Antarctica. Others are involved in policy development, administration and training.

Employment Opportunities for a Meteorologist

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is the major employer of meteorologists. A few positions are occasionally available in private companies, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), universities and state or territory government bodies (mainly environmental agencies). Most meteorologists are employed in capital cities, but some are employed at major airports and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bases outside capital cities and further afield (Antarctica, for meteorological consultants and practitioners who provide a private consultancy service to engineers and architects. Competition for the few positions offered each year is very strong. Holding a higher degree qualification may be an advantage. Those who successfully complete BOM’s training course are employed in the bureau’s head office in Melbourne or in a capital city regional forecasting centre. Subsequent promotion is based on ability and on positions becoming available. Vacancies are usually advertised on the BOM website, online job websites and through universities during March and April for training courses that commence in late January/February.

Specialisations:


Climatologist

A climatologist monitors and studies the climate and the factors that control its variability. A climatologist may produce climate assessments and forecasts of seasonal conditions, or contribute to national and international assessments of climate variability and climate change. Climatologists may also provide relevant climate data to users such as the insurance industry.


Hydrometeorologist

A hydrometeorologist provides information about rainfall patterns and intensity in support of the planning and management of land and water resources, as well as the design of urban drainage systems and dams.


Meteorological Consultant

A meteorological consultant provides advice and conducts investigations involving the application of meteorology to fields such as agriculture, engineering, architecture, health, tourism, urban planning and design.


Research Meteorologist

A research meteorologist develops and tests theories and concepts, applying the laws of physics to the study of the atmosphere with the aim of improving forecasts and warnings. This includes the analysis of meteorological data and running of forecast and global climate models.

Additional Information
Successful applicants with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) must complete a nine-month specialised training program at the BOM Training Centre in Melbourne before being posted to one of the regional or field offices throughout Australia. Once they have completed their training, graduates receive a Graduate Diploma in Meteorology. Australian citizenship, or the eligibility to apply for Australian citizenship, is required for employment with BOM.
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