What does a Hydrologist do?

Median Pay $80,480
Growth Rate 10%
Citation Retrieved in 2017 from BLS.gov

Hydrologists study water and all the forms water takes (such as rain, snow, and ice). They research groundwater, the quality of water, and how water influences the environment. The purpose of this research is to effectively try and solve environmental issues relating to water.

Watch a Video:

How to Become a Hydrologist

For an entry-level position, you would need to attain at least a bachelor’s degree. However, some hydrologists have a master’s degree before gaining an entry-level position. In fact, according to O*Net Online, it is almost an event split. About 54% of hydrologists have a bachelors and 42% hold a master’s degree. You may want to look for science programs that have a concentration in hydrology.

Job Description of a Hydrologist


Hydrologists will collect water samples and test pollution, sentiment, or pH levels in the water. They also measure the volume of water and it’s flow and study the impacts of the environment on the body of water.

Data from their research is placed into computer programs so computer models can be created to help researchers determine trends in the body of water they are studying. Hydrologist will then write reports and present their findings. Hydrologists work with other scientists and may supervise hydrologist technicians.

Hydrologist Career Video Transcript

Steven Sobieszczyk, USGS Hydrologist: So right now we’re over at Burnt Bridge Creek. It’s in Vancouver Washington, so right across the Columbia from Portland Oregon. It’s one of the 44 sites I believe in the Willamette Valley or the Portland Metropolitan area that is part of the Oregon study and depending on what site we are looking at there are a variety of different things we are trying to determine.

So here we actually have two monitors in the
stream running 24 hours a day, seven days a week that are recording values every 15 minutes or so and it covers your basic water quality parameters but then there is also some newer technologies put on this instrument that include chlorophyll and blue/green algae. There is also something called an FDOM, it’s a fluorescence dissolved organic matter, so we’re interested in knowing how much broken down leaflet or how much organics are actually making it into the stream.

The program we’re out here for as part of the U.S. Geological Survey is the National Water Quality Assessment Program, so we have an acronym for it we call it NAWQA. It started in the early 90’s and then every decade or every ten years or so we’ll do another cycle of these assessments, so what we’re doing is we’re able to actually compare and learn about how rivers are responding to things like urbanization and how people are, land is being developed, more people moving in, more people being born, the effect that has on the water and water quality and we want to see how that changes over time.

So this data’s gonna be available and people can use that for scouting places to go fishing and things like that, so government groups, regulatory agency groups use it, recreationists can use it and then the USGS uses it for its own kind of historical record and comparison and analysis that we like to do.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Hydrologists.

National Center for O*NET Development. 19-2043.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U.S. Geological Survey. Produced by Ryan McClymont, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Geological Survey. Featured Scientist, Steven Sobieszczyk, Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey: Music provided by freemusicarchive.org,”Springish” – Gillicuddy.