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Career profile Hydrologist

Also known as Groundwater Consultant, Hydrogeologist, Hydrologist, Physical Scientist, Research Hydrologist, Scientist, Source Water Protection Specialist

Hydrologist

Also known as Groundwater Consultant, Hydrogeologist, Hydrologist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$52,900 - $130,030 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Engineering and Technology
Core tasks
  • Prepare written and oral reports describing research results, using illustrations, maps, appendices, and other information.
  • Design and conduct scientific hydrogeological investigations to ensure that accurate and appropriate information is available for use in water resource management decisions.
  • Measure and graph phenomena such as lake levels, stream flows, and changes in water volumes.
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What does a Hydrologist do?

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

What kind of tasks does a Hydrologist perform regularly?

Hydrologists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Prepare written and oral reports describing research results, using illustrations, maps, appendices, and other information.
  • Design and conduct scientific hydrogeological investigations to ensure that accurate and appropriate information is available for use in water resource management decisions.
  • Measure and graph phenomena such as lake levels, stream flows, and changes in water volumes.
  • Conduct research and communicate information to promote the conservation and preservation of water resources.
  • Coordinate and supervise the work of professional and technical staff, including research assistants, technologists, and technicians.
  • Apply research findings to help minimize the environmental impacts of pollution, waterborne diseases, erosion, and sedimentation.
  • Study public water supply issues, including flood and drought risks, water quality, wastewater, and impacts on wetland habitats.
  • 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.
  • Develop computer models for hydrologic predictions.
  • Evaluate research data in terms of its impact on issues such as soil and water conservation, flood control planning, and water supply forecasting.
  • Collect and analyze water samples as part of field investigations or to validate data from automatic monitors.
  • Study and analyze the physical aspects of the earth in terms of hydrological components, including atmosphere, hydrosphere, and interior structure.
  • Prepare hydrogeologic evaluations of known or suspected hazardous waste sites and land treatment and feedlot facilities.
  • 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.
  • Develop or modify methods for conducting hydrologic studies.
  • Review applications for site plans and permits and recommend approval, denial, modification, or further investigative action.
  • Monitor the work of well contractors, exploratory borers, and engineers and enforce rules regarding their activities.
  • 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 properties, origins, and activities of glaciers, ice, snow, and permafrost.
  • Conduct short- and long-term climate assessments and study storm occurrences.
  • Administer programs designed to ensure the proper sealing of abandoned wells.
  • Investigate complaints or conflicts related to the alteration of public waters, gathering information, recommending alternatives, informing participants of progress, and preparing draft orders.

The above responsibilities are specific to Hydrologists. More generally, Hydrologists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What is a Hydrologist salary?

The median salary for a Hydrologist is $84,040, and the average salary is $90,150. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Hydrologist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Hydrologists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Hydrologists earn less than $52,900 per year, 25% earn less than $65,080, 75% earn less than $106,620, and 90% earn less than $130,030.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Hydrologists is expected to change by 6.2%, and there should be roughly 700 open positions for Hydrologists every year.

Median annual salary
$84,040
Typical salary range
$52,900 - $130,030
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
6.2%

What personality traits are common among Hydrologists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Hydrologist are usually higher in their Investigative and Realistic interests.

Hydrologists typically have very strong Investigative interests. 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.

Also, Hydrologists typically have strong Realistic interests. 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.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Hydrologist tend to value Achievement, Working Conditions, and Independence.

Most importantly, Hydrologists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Hydrologists strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Hydrologists moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Hydrologists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, analytical thinking, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Hydrologists, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

What education and training do Hydrologists need?

Many Hydrologists have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Hydrologists may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Hydrologists

  • 45.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 41.0% earned a Master's degree
  • 13.9% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Hydrologists

Hydrologists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mathematics, physics, or engineering and technology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Hydrologists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
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.
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.
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.

Important Abilities needed by Hydrologists

Hydrologists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Hydrologists need abilities such as written expression, oral comprehension, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Hydrologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking 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).

Critical Skills needed by Hydrologists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Hydrologists frequently use skills like critical thinking, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Hydrologists, ranked by their relative importance.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Science
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Mathematics
Using mathematics to solve problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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