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Climate scientist

Understand the effects of climate change on our planet. Make a difference and help to improve our environment.

About skillsGetting in

About the job


Source: National Careers Service



Entry level





Entry level





Entry level




people are currently employed

High growth

200 more jobs in 5 years

These figures refer to this job and similar ones with comparable skills and qualifications. They only apply to Scotland. Source: Oxford Economics

A day in the life — climate scientist

What it's like

Working as a climate scientist is an exciting career choice that can make a real difference to the environment around you. You’ll work to understand the effects of climate change. This can improve and protect the livelihoods of people all over the world, as well as helping to preserve nature and the eco-systems of animals.

It can also help us understand and predict the weather and oceans. In fact, the person who created the weather maps used in forecasts every day was a Scottish climatologist called Alexander Buchan!

You could spend months outdoors, doing essential research and recording climate information for long-term studies. Or you could lecture at universities about the importance of climate change and the projects you’ve taken part in.

What you might do:

  • gather and analyse data from the atmosphere, oceans and land

  • create computer models that simulate changes to the environment

  • investigate ways of tackling climate change

  • monitor sea levels and temperature changes – then compare to the past so we can predict the future

  • publish your own research findings, and attend industry conferences

  • advise government or corporate policy makers

You could choose to specialise in a certain area of climate science. For example: polar research, rainfall patterns or ocean changes. You might also choose to lecture in order to share your research.

Other career options can be working as a consultant for science publications or TV documentaries.


You can expect to work Monday to Friday, during usual office hours - though fieldwork and research hours may vary.


A career in climate science could take you anywhere in the world! You should also expect to spend time in a laboratory or educational settings like lecture theatres.

Explore more information about this job

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    Top skills

    Skills are things you're good at. Whether you know what yours are or not, everyone has them!

    It's useful to learn which ones are important in a job so you know the areas you need to brush up on. It can also help you work out if you're suited to a career.

    Here are some of the skills you'll need to do this job:

    • understanding
    • analysing
    • sorting
    • attention to detail
    • researching
    • observation
    • problem solving
    • working with technology
    • verbal communication

    Your skills are important

    Our unique skillsets are what make us stand out from the crowd. Learn about each skill in depth and discover what employers look for in your applications and interviews.

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    Getting in

    Explore the sections shown for more information about getting into this career.

    You might have qualifications which are not shown here but will allow you access to a course. You can compare your qualifications by looking at their SCQF Level. For more information about this, check out the SCQF website.

    Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

    Colleges and universities will list subjects you'll need for entry to a course. Some useful subjects include:

    • Computing Science

    • Environmental Science

    • Geography

    • Mathematics

    • Physics

    Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they do ask for relevant experience, usually work based. 

    There are different ways to get qualified for this job through college, university or work-based qualifications, such as apprenticeships. 

    Most climate scientists will have a degree in: 

    • maths

    • physics

    • meteorology 

    • computing science or software engineering

    Employers might consider applicants without formal qualifications if they can demonstrate knowledge and experience of the industry. 

    Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they might ask for relevant experience, usually work based, that show a range of transferable skills.  

    This is a small profession and entry is very competitive. Most people starting out in this job have a first degree in maths or physics and a postgraduate qualification in meteorology or a related subject.  

    It’s helpful to have some previous work experience in computing or in a laboratory, as well as showing an interest in weather and climate.  

    The Met Office runs a summer placement scheme in areas including science and forecasting, which last for three months. Recent graduates and current students can apply.  

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