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Hydrologists Career

Career Description

Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; and study the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, movement through the earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere.

What Job Titles Hydrologists Might Have

  • Groundwater Consultant
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Hydrologist
  • Research Hydrologist

What Hydrologists Do

  • Design and conduct scientific hydrogeological investigations to ensure that accurate and appropriate information is available for use in water resource management decisions.
  • Prepare written and oral reports describing research results, using illustrations, maps, appendices, and other information.
  • Study and document quantities, distribution, disposition, and development of underground and surface waters.
  • Install, maintain, and calibrate instruments such as those that monitor water levels, rainfall, and sediments.
  • Prepare hydrogeologic evaluations of known or suspected hazardous waste sites and land treatment and feedlot facilities.
  • Study public water supply issues, including flood and drought risks, water quality, wastewater, and impacts on wetland habitats.
  • Conduct research and communicate information to promote the conservation and preservation of water resources.
  • Apply research findings to help minimize the environmental impacts of pollution, waterborne diseases, erosion, and sedimentation.
  • Evaluate research data in terms of its impact on issues such as soil and water conservation, flood control planning, and water supply forecasting.
  • Evaluate data and provide recommendations regarding the feasibility of municipal projects, such as hydroelectric power plants, irrigation systems, flood warning systems, and waste treatment facilities.
  • Collect and analyze water samples as part of field investigations or to validate data from automatic monitors.
  • Coordinate and supervise the work of professional and technical staff, including research assistants, technologists, and technicians.
  • Measure and graph phenomena such as lake levels, stream flows, and changes in water volumes.
  • Develop computer models for hydrologic predictions.
  • Study and analyze the physical aspects of the earth in terms of hydrological components, including atmosphere, hydrosphere, and interior structure.
  • Review applications for site plans and permits and recommend approval, denial, modification, or further investigative action.
  • Develop or modify methods for conducting hydrologic studies.
  • Answer questions and provide technical assistance and information to contractors or the public regarding issues such as well drilling, code requirements, hydrology, and geology.
  • Investigate complaints or conflicts related to the alteration of public waters, gathering information, recommending alternatives, informing participants of progress, and preparing draft orders.
  • Monitor the work of well contractors, exploratory borers, and engineers and enforce rules regarding their activities.
  • Conduct short- and long-term climate assessments and study storm occurrences.
  • Design civil works associated with hydrographic activities and supervise their construction, installation, and maintenance.
  • Administer programs designed to ensure the proper sealing of abandoned wells.

What Hydrologists Should Be Good At

  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

What Hydrologists Should Be Interested In

  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

What Hydrologists Need to Learn

  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Geography - Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Leaf iconThis career is a green occupation.
Median Salary: $80,480

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.