Hydrologists study the composition, quality, distribution of cycle of water. They analyze various forms of precipitation, studying its amount, route, ecological impact, and conditions in which they occur. Hydrologists may present the data they have collected to government agencies or private industries, and usually work closely with other scientific departments to preserve and examine water sources.
The scope of tasks vary depending on the agency in which the hydrologist is employed and her area of expertise, but work generally involves interpreting geographical data, historical occurrences, atmospheric conditions, and the geological composition and formation in an area to assess groundwater occurrence and movements. A hydrologist often undertakes field work to investigate, monitor, and collect data on reservoirs and water abstraction sites, record water depths, supervise the commission of boreholes, and to check on project adherence to health and safety guidelines. Laboratory work includes analyzing water samples, compiling data, and generating computer models to calculate groundwater flow, water chemistry and temperature based on geological formations, surface water current and route, and the influence of human population and activity. A hydrologist must also answer technical questions, write reports, and work in liaison with other scientific and industrial specialists.
Education and Training Requirements
To become a hydrologist, it is essential to have a bachelor’s degree in related fields of study, such as, geophysics, geology, soil science, agricultural engineering, forestry, and civil engineering. As with most science related professions, a master’s degree is highly favorable. Additional background in chemistry, hydrology, water quality, physics, hydraulics, calculus, and meteorology is also necessary.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
To become a successful hydrologist, it is essential to be strong academically and to have advanced mathematical, analytical, and computing skills. It is also important to be highly capable in project management, to have strong organizational proficiency, and to possess excellent interpersonal skills, and strong written and oral communication skills.
Hydrologists often perform fieldwork that can be physically demanding and risky which requires physical stamina and adaptability. They must be able to travel to remote places, move about in rough terrain and the natural environment, carry heavy equipment, wade in different bodies of water, and work in all kinds of weather conditions.
The average annual salary of a hydrologist is $56,000. The salary can vary widely across companies or agencies and the type of industry they are involved, the benefits they offer, and location. The hydrologist’s experience and educational background can also influence the amount of pay.