A career in 'pure' meteorology or weather forecasting is far from the only career option for new graduates. Our Meteorology and Environmental Physics programmes are top-quality quantitative scientific degrees, and the destinations of previous graduates clearly demonstrate the highly varied range of potential career destinations. Employers particularly value graduates from the Department of Meteorology for strongly developed skills in numeracy, spatial awareness and application of first-class scientific and mathematical principles to real-world problems.
Whilst the Met Office is one of the major employers of meteorologists and climate scientists in the UK, and many of our graduates do indeed go onto work for the Met Office, either as weather forecasters or working in research, there are also many other potential and rewarding career paths:
- Private sector meteorology is a rapidly-growing area: there are many small companies who specialise in providing forecast information to specific sectors such as the offshore oil and gas industry, commercial shipping, newspapers, TV and digital media, highways agencies and even the financial markets. We have close links with many of these companies, often through previous graduates from the Department.
- Typical of this type of company is Metraweather, the commercial arm of the New Zealand Met Service which has its UK forecasting office on the Reading University campus less than 5 minutes walk from our department. Our final year students are all given an opportunity to visit the Metraweather office and sit in with their forecasters, watching them work and talking to them about their jobs and how they have developed their careers.
- EDF Trading, the utility trading arm of EDF Energy, is typical of the utilities trading sector and employs several meteorologists. They run a paid summer placement scheme which usually provides summer employment for one of our students. Gas and electricity prices on the open market are very sensitive to forecast weather conditions, and so their forecasters work on the trading floor, advising traders on potential fluctuations in prices that may have a major impact on profitability. It's a high pressure environment but an exciting and growing area of employment for meteorologists.
- Of course, we are ourselves also one of the largest employers of meteorologists in the UK. At any time, we have about 180 post-doctoral research staff and about 80 PhD students, with many opportunities to develop a research career by staying on at Reading after graduation. We regard our undergraduate degrees as ideal training for a higher degree followed by a research career, and in most years some of our graduates go on to PhD degrees (at Reading or elsewhere): a number will subsequently obtain research jobs in or through the Reading Meteorology Department.
- A degree in Meteorology and Climate or Environmental Physics also gives access to a wide range of career choices in environmental and physical sciences and mathematics. Flood modelling, forecasting and control, environmental pollution prediction and monitoring and numerical modelling of fluid systems such as oil and gas wells are all potential career options.
- Financial management, risk assessment, insurance and accountancy organisations also place considerable value in confident and highly numerate graduate-entry trainees.
- A number of our graduates each year go on to complete Postgraduate Teaching Certificates (PGCE) in maths and sciences prior to starting careers in teaching.
We actively engage with potential employers of our graduates in a number of ways. Every year we hold a series of seminars given by professional scientists working for a range of employers, many of whom are our former students. We take our final year students to visit the Met Office's impressive HQ in Exeter where they get to look around the building and hear about the different career opportunities at the Met Office and how best to succeed in applying for forecasting and research jobs there. Each year we run a number of undergraduate projects in partnership with external organisations. This gives the students who undertake these projects a chance to liaise with industry professionals in a number of different areas.
Some examples of career paths followed by Reading Meteorology graduates are given on the graduate profiles pages. Other Reading graduates feature on the Royal Meteorological Society's 'career spotlight' page.