Climate 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 (organisational skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Climate Scientist, you should focus on subjects and skills that provide a strong foundation in science, mathematics, and environmental studies. Climate science is an interdisciplinary field, so a well-rounded education is essential. While specific subjects are not mandatory, the following subjects can be highly beneficial:

  1. Science Subjects: High grades in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology can provide a solid foundation in the natural sciences, which are essential for understanding climate-related processes, chemistry of the atmosphere, and ecosystems.
  2. Mathematics (Maths): Advanced mathematics, particularly Mathematics at a high level, is important for conducting climate modelling, data analysis, and statistical research.
  3. Geography: Geography can provide valuable knowledge about climate systems, geography of regions, and the impacts of climate change on the environment and societies.
  4. Environmental Science: If your school offers Environmental Science, consider taking it as it provides insights into environmental issues, sustainability, and ecological systems.
  5. Computer Science: Climate scientists often use computer models to simulate climate patterns and analyze data. Basic programming and data analysis skills can be advantageous.
  6. Statistics: Proficiency in statistics is crucial for analyzing climate data and drawing meaningful conclusions.
  7. Geology: Knowledge of Earth’s geological processes can be relevant, especially when studying paleoclimate data and understanding long-term climate trends.

Post School

You can get into this job through a university course.

You could do a degree or postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject like:

  • environmental science or ecology
  • geography, earth sciences or geology
  • maths and statistics
  • oceanography or marine science
  • meteorology and climate science
  • computer science

Work experience
You can get work experience through internships, placements or a year in industry during your course. This may help you to identify your area of interest for research.

For example, the Met Office runs both summer placement and year in industry schemes.

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.