Accreditation helps to set standards across the wider meteorological community, promotes continuing professional development and career advancement. In addition, it demonstrates that individuals have reached and continue to maintain a specified level of professional expertise that satisfies clients, employers and the public. By benchmarking professional meteorologists at the same high level, accreditation aims to ensure that the public and other users of meteorological services can have confidence in the services they are provided.
The Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) established its first accreditation scheme - for Chartered Meteorologists (RMet) - in 1994. The success of this scheme and the developing needs of service providers led to the introduction of an accreditation as a Registered Meteorologist (CMet) in 2014. These schemes appeal to service providers who are interested in having their staff accredited and to organizations that are considering establishing such an accreditation scheme.
Accreditation is important for individuals because it enables them to gain recognition and highlight their meteorological expertise in addition to their academic qualifications. It also demonstrates a commitment to continuing professional development and can contribute to career advancement by showing that an individual has expertise beyond what is required in his or her current post.
In addition to providing a framework to help employers recruit and promote their staff, it can also be used It can also be used to show that service providers have staff whose expertise is recognized by an independent body. Accreditation has the value of assuring both customers and the public that services are being provided by professionals who have the necessary expertise. This may be especially important when consultants are brought in for a specific task, as accreditation can provide confidence that these consultants have gone through a robust process to demonstrate their professionalism.
Paul Knightley, Forecast Manager (United Kingdom) at MeteoGroup, has commented from a manager’s perspective, saying: “The RMetS qualifications and accreditation schemes are valued inputs to MeteoGroup’s defined career structure. Members of my meteorological team benefit through professional integrity as well as a clear promotional pathway. Additionally, personal development and objectives can be measured through the Society’s CPD tools.”
The RMetS accreditation schemes
The accreditation schemes run by RMetS provide professional qualifications in meteorology at a level equivalent to other schemes that provide Chartered status. RMetS is recognized in UK and European law as both the Competent Authority and the Regulatory Body for Meteorology in the UK, and its two accreditation schemes are included in the European Commission’s regulated professions database. Although the majority of applicants are based in the UK, the Society does welcome applicants from outside the UK who meet the requirements.
The schemes conform to the principles specified in the International Standard ISO/IEC 17024 concerning the operation of certification bodies, in particular:
- Assessment is based on objective evidence obtained through a fair, valid and reliable assessment and is not influenced by other interests or by other parties.
- The assessment process ensures that there is sufficient objective evidence on which to base a decision.
- The person performing the assessment is competent to carry out that task.
- There is an effective process for the resolution of complaints and appeals as a means of protection against errors, omissions or unreasonable behaviour.
The RMet and CMet schemes
The RMet accreditation is ideal for those in the early stages of their career in meteorology or in a role that supports meteorological services. Most applications have two to five years' experience. Becoming an RMet paves the way to becoming a CMet, the highest level of accreditation in meteorology, which is suited to someone with substanial meteorological experience.
The level of knowledge on meteorological science and practice that is required for an RMet is based on the WMO Basic Instruction Package for Meteorological Technicians (BIP-MT). For CMet, it is based on the WMO Basic Instruction Package for Meteorologists (BIP-M) and also includes knowledge of the current national and international contexts in which meteorological services are provided. Detailed knowledge of declared specializations is also required for both schemes.
To complement these knowledge requirements, the candidate must demonstrate oral and written communication skills and competency in five key areas:
- Application of knowledge and expertise – identifying and using relevant scientific understanding, methods and skills to address broadly defined, complex problems;
- Personal responsibility – exercising personal responsibility in planning and implementing tasks;
- Interpersonal skills – demonstrating effective interpersonal skills;
- Professional practice – applying appropriate theoretical and practical methods; and
- Professional standards – demonstrating a personal commitment to professional standards.
Evidence of these competencies may consist of a description of past jobs, routine work, professional positions, project involvement, contributions to the meteorological community, expertise sharing or vocational qualifications. Although CMet and RMet call for the same competencies, the requirements for CMet are much higher.
The accreditations have the advantage of being a formally recognized, public statement that requires holders to demonstrate that they are maintaining their competencies; continuing to develop their knowledge and skills; keeping up with advances in meteorology in general; and steadily improving their experience, capabilities and contributions. Individuals are to collate continuing professional development records and submit reports every two years for CMet and annually for RMet.
|“Being a Registered Meteorologist provides an ideal springboard to apply for the title of Chartered Meteorologist and cement yourself within the higher echelons of the profession, ” commented Helen Roberts, Senior Operational Meteorologist at the Met Office. “Needless to say, the criteria are tougher, but as you progress with your career, then this option will become less daunting with time.”|
The accreditation process
In order to apply for accreditation as either an RMet or a CMet, candidates must complete an online application on the RMetS website. The main part of the application calls for a description of the individual’s qualifications and experience, evidence of the key competencies and a record of activities associated with continuing professional development. Once the application has been completed, the submission is checked and references are obtained from the nominated referees.
For those applying for RMet, the next step is a workplace assessment. Two members of an assessment panel look at the applicant's workplace activities with the likely participation of the individual's line manager. The candidate is also given an opportunity to elaborate on the evidence presented in the initial application.
An applicant for CMet undertakes a panel interview. This is not an exam, but a peer-to-peer discussion structured around the evidence provided by the applicant. The applicant will also be expected to give a short technical presentation.
After either the workplace assessment or the interview, the RMetS Professional Accreditation Board considers the application. The entire award process is usually completed within four months of the application’s submission. There are 86 RMets and 66 CMets to date.
These numbers are expected to grow quickly as more organizations embed these professional qualifications in their internal promotion processes.
More detailed information on the accreditation schemes is available at www.rmets.org/professional-accreditation. The Society is keen to share its experience of developing, implementing and managing accreditation schemes. For further advice, guidance or discussion on this topic contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACCSYS is the Society’s online continuing professional development system, introduced in 2014. It is only available to RMetS members and is mainly used for submitting accreditation applications and building a detailed record of continuing professional development activity, which can then be used to track and manage development.
Over 3 000 continuning professional development records have been created to date by around 200 users. Once continuing professional development records are entered, reports can be created and easily saved as PDFs, then emailed or printed. These reports can be presented to current or future employers, or be used during appraisals and reviews. ACCSYS underpins the accreditation schemes.