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Frequently asked questions

Gavin in classroom

We frequently get asked questions about the following subjects, so we have put together a list which we hope will answer your queries. Should you need more help or advice please do contact us by emailing

Training to be a forecaster and other types of training

Q. I'd like to be a forecaster; can I attend one of your forecaster training courses?

A. Our forecaster training courses are generally courses that meteorological service providers will sponsor their staff to attend as the costs are prohibitive to members of the public. Furthermore we would not be able to guarantee employment at the Met Office on completion of any of the courses. However if you were a successful forecaster applicant the training would be free. Please keep an eye on thecurrent vacancies page for details of any future forecaster vacancies at the Met Office.

Q. What qualifications do I need to become a forecaster?

A. You need to have a suitable degree (e.g. meteorology, physics, mathematics, environmental sciences and geography), plus a proven interest in the weather. We have many different kinds of forecaster, some specialise in aviation, others in broadcasting or public weather forecasting etc. Please see the forecasting and observations page for full details on forecasting careers at the Met Office and entry requirements.

Q. Do you provide weather training other than 'How to be a weather forecaster?'

A. As well as training operational forecasters and observers we also help staff in industry and the public sector to better understand and interpret weather information in order to aid their decision making. These staff includes emergency responders, defence personnel, road decision makers, broadcasters, air traffic control staff, airport and airline staff, light aircraft pilots, renewables staff and offshore meteorological observers.


Attending scheduled courses at the Met Office College in Exeter

Q. What time should I arrive on the first day of my course?

A. Please come to the main reception at 08.45, this will allow enough time for you to sign in and be issued with your security pass before your course starts at 09.00.

Q. Do I need to bring anything with me?

A. Yes, please make sure you bring a photo ID (driving licence or passport). We provide course notes as routine. Pens and paper will be provided in the classroom.

Q. Are refreshments and lunch included?

A. All our Exeter based course include a two course lunch or baguette and a drink from our staff restaurant at midday plus free refreshments are available during the morning and afternoon breaks.

Q. What facilities are available to me during my stay in Exeter?

A. Delegates attending scheduled courses in Exeter have access to all the first-class facilities within the Met Office building. These facilities include the National Meteorological Library, a health club (with free gym membership for the duration of your course), a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner plus two coffee shops, a shop and an ATM.

Q. If I come on a course will accommodation be provided?

A: Not automatically for all courses. Please let us know if you need accommodation and Met Office College reception can organise a room for you at the Holiday Inn Express which is 10 minutes walk from our headquarters. We can also provide advice on other accommodation options that are available nearby.

Q. Is there anything else to do in Exeter during my free time?

Exeter is an historic city with many visitor attractions and a wide variety of shops, cafés, bars and restaurants to choose from. The city is located in the heart of the south west of England with the surrounding coast and countryside easily accessible by public transport.

Q. Do I have to come to Exeter if I want training?

A. Not necessarily. Our Offshore Observing course runs regularly in Aberdeen, furthermore many of the courses can also be delivered at a location chosen by you. The training team has travelled to sites all across the UK and have had experience in delivering training overseas in over 30 different countries. Locations have been varied and include Nigeria, Italy, the Falkland Islands, South Korea, the Czech Republic and Barbados.


Understanding the weather

Q. Do you provide training for the general public? I would like to learn more about the weather as I find it interesting or it's my hobby.

A. At this moment in time we do not provide training for the general public. The National Meteorological Library and Archive - Open to Everyone at the Met Office in Exeter holds one of the world's largest collections of books and resources about weather and climate. It is well worth a visit online or in person.

Q. Can I come and visit the Met Office?

A. Public open days are held several times a year, usually on a Saturday. Entry is free but is by ticket only and is very popular. It's worth adding the Contact us page to your favourites and checking it regularly. This page provides dates and a booking form when places become available.

Q. Do you have any basic or simple to understand weather videos I can watch online?

A. Yes, we have an ever increasing selection of online Videos about weather and climate.

Q. I want to learn more about the weather in the mountains and National Parks, do you provide any lessons?

A. Yes,  the Mountain weather forecast page has more information and there are also a set of videos linked from this page. These will teach you how to stay safe whilst on the mountains in all types of weather.


Observer training for Air Traffic Services and Offshore

Q. Can a private individual attend either the air traffic or offshore observing courses?

A. Yes, although most of our nominees are sponsored by ATC units or offshore companies, private individuals can attend. The qualification gained can be useful when applying for ATC or offshore job vacancies.

Q. Do I need to have any qualifications in order to attend the air traffic observing courses?

A. No, the observer training Aeronautical Information Circular states that: "Those nominated are expected to have experience in an ATS environment and, prior to attending the course, must have acquired a basic knowledge of the METAR code, sufficient at least to enable them to decode a METAR without difficulty." It has become apparent that most nominees who have failed the course do not possess this basic knowledge when they attend the college. It is therefore expected that the trainee is at least familiar with a basic knowledge of the METAR code, by the start of this course.

Q. How long are the observing certificates valid for? Do I need to complete refresher training?

A. The Air Traffic Observing course certificate is valid for life and the CAA recommend refresher training every five years. The Offshore Observing certificates have an expiry date of two years from the date of initial training as the CAA recommend refresher training every two years. This refresher training will shortly be available online.

Q. Can I do the observer training courses online?

A. No, the initial training courses for both Air Traffic and Offshore Observing course require the delegates to attend either a 10 day or two day course. However refresher training for the Offshore Observing Course will shortly be available online.

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