Research Scientist

Job Description:

Climate scientists study our planet’s changing climate and advise policy makers on their findings.

Job Category:
Environmental Industry

What you will do:

Your day-to-day tasks will vary based on where in the world you are working, but you will be doing some or all of the following:

  • Gathering data from the atmosphere, oceans, and land
  • Collecting samples of air, water, ice, soil, and plants
  • Testing samples in a laboratory
  • Combining new and historical data and using computer models to simulate the effects of climate change
  • Investigating ways to reduce or reverse the effects of climate change
  • Publishing findings and discussing them at conferences
  • Advising policy makers, such as governments or large companies, on what they can do to help tackle climate change
  • Lecturing at universities


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative (drive)
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Climate science is a small and very competitive field, and most successful applicants have a degree (and perhaps even postgraduate qualification) in a relevant subject, such as the following:

  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Computer science
  • Geography
  • Environmental science
  • Meteorology
  • Climatology
  • Oceanography

Relevant work experience would be very useful, if not specifically required by some employers. This could be general experience in computing or lab work, or it could come from an apprenticeship or other work experience with the Met Office.

Working Hours and Environment:

You would usually work regular office hours, Monday to Friday. You will often be based in an office or laboratory, running simulations and analysing data.

Fieldwork would be much more variable in terms of hours and location. You would need to travel – sometimes great distances – to visit specific areas to gather data. Such a trip could last several weeks and involve staying away at a research base.

Career Path & Progression:

You would likely begin as a junior research scientist, assisting more senior colleagues with their projects. After a few years, you might be running your own research team.

With experience, you could specialise in a particular area of climate science, such as focusing on polar research or on economic consequences of climate change.

You could work as a consultant for science publications or broadcasters.