Monday, 21 March 2011

State-sponsored research: The Met Office

Who? The Met Office is the UK’s national weather service and, like the DSTL, is an executive agency of the MoD. It currently employs around 1800 people, including 450 in Research Science and 730 in Forecasting and Observations.

Where? Following a move in 2003 from Berkshire, the majority of employees (1400 people) are now based at the new headquarters in Exeter. There are 60 other Met Office sites around the world.

What? Careers in science include: forecasting R&D (inc. meteorology and oceanography); climate R&D; and scientific software engineering. Forecasting and observation (environmental monitoring) opportunities include: meteorological training, forecasting and guidance; monitoring the state of the atmosphere, oceans and climate; and meteorological observing systems R&D.

Are they recruiting? Physics or maths are essential for a career in science at the Met Office. For forecasting, any physical science degree is acceptable, with an AS (or equivalent) in physics. With strong competition for positions, a 2:1 degree or above, a genuine interest in the weather and good customer service skills need to be demonstrated. For a forecasting role, new starters undergo an Initial Forecasting Training course which culminates in an assessment for an NVQ Level 4 in Meteorological Forecasting.

The benefits package includes eligibility for the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme, 25 days annual leave + 2.5 days privilege days (rising to 30 days after 7 years), shift allowance (forecasters typically work 12-hour shifts) and bonus scheme.

A trainee forecasting position is currently advertised – closing date is 31st March. Starting salary of £18k rises to £22k (+ shift allowance) on successful completion of training.

Next up: An overview of the remaining contenders

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