Meteorological Technician

Job description

Meteorological Technicians observe, brief on and forecast weather conditions in support of operations at Royal Canadian Air Force Wings and Squadrons, on Royal Canadian Navy Ships at sea and in Army facilities.

Their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Observe and record surface, marine and upper air weather conditions
  • Process, analyze and interpret meteorological information
  • Operate and maintain specialized meteorological instruments and equipment
  • Brief wing, ship and land unit personnel on actual and expected weather conditions
  • Forecast weather conditions

Transcript

METEOROLOGICAL TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

I’m Master Corporal Glen Slauenwhite from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia. I’m a Meteorological Technician currently posted to HMCS Athabaskan.

And I’m Sergeant Cory Johnson from Black’s Harbour, New Brunswick. I’m a Meteorological Technician currently posted to CFB Petawawa.

SLAUENWHITE: Meteorology is one of the cornerstones of any military planning. It affects aircraft, it affects personnel on the ground, it affects ships. Any inclement weather can destroy any of those links.

Metrological technicians provide on-the-spot weather information services. We observe local phenomena, we report on it and from that, forecasts and briefings are derived.

If you’re a soldier, an armoured crewman or an infanteer that’s trying to just live through day-to-day life while you’re out in the field, you’re going to want to know if it’s cold, if it’s wet, if it’s really hot. People like me can provide that information.

If you’re at sea, knowing what kind of sea states you’re going to come up against, storms that are out there – I can tell you all about that. Certainly anybody that flies aircraft is going to want to know just what kind of things that they can expect on their route. Everything we do is weather-dependent.

JOHNSON: A Met Tech’s job may sound pretty basic: provide accurate, mission-specific ground, air and sea conditions and forecasts out to our Air Force, Navy and Army commanders.

It’s always been a level of comfort for commanders to be able to talk to a uniformed soldier. Our understanding of operational requirements does kind of give us an upper hand on being able to provide the best, most tailored information for their needs.

SLAUENWHITE: There has to be a certain level of academic achievement to be a Met Tech -- definitely some sort of math or physics. You have to understand movement, energy, dynamics. You have to be able to think in three dimensions.

JOHNSON: Being mobile and deployable is a big thing for us. We go wherever our troops, ships and air crews go, whether it’s the middle of the Atlantic or a forward operating base in Afghanistan.

SLAUENWHITE: We’re on ships, we have people with Air Force CF-18 and helicopter squadrons and we have people throughout Canada doing ballistic meteorology with the artillery. They want to make sure they have the proper upper-air data so they can hit the target they want to hit.

JOHNSON: It’s not just a weather forecast. It’s critical mission-specific information.

For somebody that never wants a dull moment, then Met Tech is definitely the trade for them.

JOHNSON: The coolest part of the job is the diversity. You can go to sea, if you like going to the Army, there is definitely the army tour. It’s just the diversity – all the different people that you meet, all the different places that you get to go and see. You get to work with everybody.

SLAUENWHITE: At the end of the day when I can pull in all this information and distill it down to a very quick forecast, present that to the boss and then actually see it come to fruition when you’re out there. As well as offering those into a myriad of environments such as being at sea, being in the desert, being in the Arctic, there is no job quite like this. It allows you to use those brain skills along with basic military skills to get the job done.

SLAUENWHITE: After basic military training, Meteorological Technicians go to the Canadian Forces School of Meteorology in Winnipeg for about 6 months of trade-specific training. For the first half of the course, the focus is on surface observations, wind speeds and direction, and the operation and maintenance of meteorological equipment. After that, you’ll learn briefing, how to present the information you observe to a user. It’s very, very demanding.

JOHNSON: You have to be a good communicator. You must be able to speak to an audience and be able to keep your train of thought and be able to adapt to changing situations at a moment’s notice.

A lot of it is theory-based. Theory is a huge part of the trade. For example, for the Air Force, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft can pick up icing. You’ve got to understand the theory behind icing and its possible effects. Also, turbulence can become a huge issue. You have to give them information as to where turbulence may be located.

SLAUENWHITE: When you’re done in Winnipeg, you’ll be sent to the Canadian Forces Joint Meteorological Centre in Gagetown, New Brunswick, for on-the-job experience. In Gagetown, technicians are given the opportunity to hone their skills under the supervision of a group of experienced technicians. Additional training includes: driver training on a variety of military vehicles; advanced training to allow Meteorological Technicians to better integrate into an artillery regiment; and technical training to allow technicians to operate an austere Weather Office.

SLAUENWHITE: When you leave Gagetown, you’ll be posted to an Army, Air Force or Navy unit responsible for observing and recording weather conditions and briefing local commanders with the weather information they require.

JOHNSON: Here in Petawawa, I run the upper-air section for the artillery. We go everywhere they go.

We have Met Techs that are posted to the artillery and send up weather balloons and the information that we get from the weather balloons, such as temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, helps to correct for the atmospheric phenomena that could cause that round to end up not on the intended target. So it is a tool that they use to increase the safety and accuracy of their weapons.

SLAUENWHITE: As your career progresses, there are always continuing courses in weather forecasting, upper-atmosphere observations and mission-specific assignments.

JOHNSON: The opportunities for travel are endless. You get to go to many new places, places that you never would have thought your military career would ever take you. It’s an excellent, excellent opportunity if you want to get out and see the world.

SLAUENWHITE: Yeah, a real big thing for me was excitement and the Canadian Forces offer these opportunities that you can’t find anywhere else. Visiting the world, helping out people, both in small and large scale operations. Really, if you like a life that moves and a career that moves with you, this is the place to be.

TITLE:

METEOROLOGICAL TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

Overview

Working environment

Generally, meteorological observing offices are located near airfields. While much of a Meteorological Technician’s time is spent indoors in a weather office, duties require regular trips outdoors to observe and report on all types of weather phenomena. Meteorological Technicians work rotating shifts. In a Naval environment, they will work and live onboard a ship. If posted to an artillery unit, they will participate in field exercises under operational and combat conditions.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Meteorological Technician is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Meteorological Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Weather Service Specialist
  • Meteorological Inspector

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Training

Basic military qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic military qualification – land course

After Basic Training, Army recruits go to a Military Training centre for the Basic Military Qualification – Land Course for approximately one month, which covers the following topics:

  • Army Physical Fitness
  • Dismounted Offensive and Defensive Operations
  • Reconnaissance Patrolling
  • Individual Field Craft

Basic occupational qualification training

Meteorological Technicians attend training in Winnipeg, Manitoba, for 20 weeks that includes the following subjects:

  • Surface weather observations
  • Recording and encoding weather data
  • Measurement of surface and upper winds
  • Operating meteorological instruments
  • Weather communications
  • Maintenance of weather equipment
  • Weather briefing

Specialty training

Meteorological Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Navigator’s Yeoman
  • Meteorological Inspector
  • Automatic Weather Observation Systems

Advanced training

As they progress in their career, Meteorological Technicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Installation and maintenance of meteorological sensors and equipment
  • Weather briefings
  • Weather forecasting
  • Aerological support

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Entry plans

Required education

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 11 or Secondaire IV, as well as the completion of Grade 11 Academic Math and Grade 11 Physics or Chemistry.

A High School credit in computer applications is desirable.

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