Preparing for a career in science or engineering requires extensive study on the many career paths available to you.
In this article, we explain what hydrologists do and how to become a hydrologist with step-by-step instructions.
What Does a Hydrologist Do?
Hydrologists study the distribution and circulation of water, collaborating with environmental scientists and other experts to get a better understanding of this natural resource. Hydrologists gather water samples from both surface and underground sources on the Earth’s surface. They examine the samples to determine the amount of pollution, pH, water flow, and other variables.
Hydrologists use their results to support environmental problems with scientific evidence. Hydrologists work in areas like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and are considered “green” jobs. They are required to work in offices, labs, and on-site near water sources due to their diverse job responsibilities.
A hydrologist’s responsibilities and job functions include the following:
- Giving oral presentations on your results
- Creating hydrogeology data maps
- Putting together written reports
- Performing water research on storms and watersheds
- Working with state, governmental, and local governments and agencies
- Groundwater and surface water collection
- Installing water quality monitoring equipment
- Processing meteorological, hydrologic, and precipitation data
- Determining the degree of groundwater pollution
The responsibilities of hydrologists differ depending on where they work. More in-depth tasks may be assigned to candidates with higher degrees and expertise in environmental science or engineering.
How To Become a Hydrologist
Hydrologists must be educated in their field and have relevant degrees and certifications. The next section will go through the steps involved in becoming a hydrologist.
- Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
A four-year bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields is required to become a hydrologist:
- Environmental science
- Engineering (with a focus on water science or hydrology)
Make sure to look into the degree options offered by different colleges and universities to find the best fit for you.
- Get Certified
Although certifications are an optional step, they may help you gain a competitive edge over your peers. This may be due to the fact that certificates are optional credentials. Earning one or more hydrology-related certificates shows employers that you are motivated to go above and beyond the necessary educational components.
The American Institute of Hydrology offers two hydrology certificates that you can pursue to improve your skills and boost your employability in your profession. They are the Professional Hydrology Certification and the Hydrologic Technician Certification.
- Receive Your License
Working hydrologists may be required to get a license, which varies by state. It’s important that you familiarize yourself with your state’s requirements. This may involve a minimum educational requirement as well as another test. You may begin working as a licensed hydrologist after you have received your license.
- Gain Work Experience
Working as a laboratory research technician or assistant is a common entry-level position in hydrology. Internships in laboratories or offices may be obtained while enrolled in a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Field exploration opportunities are available in certain entry-level and internship positions. Promotion to a senior research post, project manager, or program manager is regarded as a worthwhile effort after acquiring experience.
- Pursue a Master’s Degree
Although getting a master’s degree is an optional step, it may help you stand out from the crowd, increase your salary expectations, and expand your knowledge in a specific area of your profession. Consider water resources engineering, hydrogeology, environmental law, or aquatic biology as graduate degree options.
- Pursue a Doctorate
Hydrologists may hold a Ph.D. at the highest level, which is required for university faculty jobs. If you want to work in a classroom, a doctorate is a good option, but it may also improve your qualifications and enable you to earn more money. Watershed science, hydrological hazards, or hydrology and water management are all possible PhD degrees.