Career Profile: Hydrologist

Career Profile: Hydrologist

by Stephanie Hughes
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Not many people consider pursuing hydrology (a fancy word meaning the study of water) as a career, but perhaps after today, you might even give it some thought. A hydrologist is someone who studies the movement of water whether it is rain, snow, and other forms of precipitation, surface water like rivers and stream, and ground water reservoirs and how it impacts the immediate environment around them. There could be many factors influencing the health of an ecosystem’s water supply. A few general tasks that a hydrologist completes on a day-to-day basis include: testing PH levels in local water supplies, measure properties like volume and speed, collect samples to detect any abnormal features, research ways to minimize damage to the water environment, and evaluate local projects and constructs like hydro dams and water treatment facilities. The career can be split into two more specific specializations: groundwater hydrologists and surface water hydrologists.

To begin pursuing this career, you will need to go to post-secondary school and earn a bachelor’s degree in hydrology and water management to one day acquire an entry-level position. If you want to aim higher, then a master’s degree or a Ph.D. is needed. In some states and provinces, the working hydrologist may need a government-issued license. You can operate on the field collecting water and soil samples or you can be an in-office hydrologist who largely analyzes data and compares them to previous year’s sets.   

What are the perks of the job?

A few perks that the hydrologist can enjoy is a higher than average median annual income, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has calculated to be $80,480 as of May 2016. It also has a positive outlook of a 10% increase between 2016 and 2026. If you are a field hydrologist, you could benefit from decent outdoor work. If the great outdoors isn’t exactly your pace, a desk job is also an option. That level of flexibility could appeal to many would-be hydrologists.

What are some of the setbacks?

Attaining a career in hydrology can be more difficult than other careers within the environmental science field. The specific skillset that hydrologists are trained in make career-shifting a bit more difficult than with other careers. The work could also be considered boring after a few years of analyzing samples of the same regions with little excitement. Field work could also have some hydrologists working longer hours than they initially intended.

How can I grow with this career?

Hydrologists generally work at a state level, but some can excel in their careers to the point where they go on expeditions to places like Antarctica where they can participate in bigger projects. That way, they can make a bigger difference to the scientific community.

That’s all great, but could I be hired for other careers?

Other scientific or analytical within environmental studies can support the specific skill set and training that a hydrologist enjoys, making their desirability to be hired somewhat as strong as other professions.


Career Centre: “Hydrologist”


Learning Path: “Pros and Cons of a Career in Hydrology”


Truity: “Hydrologist”


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