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Also known as:
Hydrogeologist, Hydrologist, Isotope Hydrologist, Surface Hydrologist

Video transcript

Water is one of our most precious resources. Hydrologists help protect that resource. "hydro-" means "water." "-ologist" means "one who studies." So hydrologists are scientists who study the water in our environment. They use sophisticated techniques and equipment to monitor changes in water cycles.

They study precipitation, its movements through the earth, and its return to the ocean and the atmosphere. The work of hydrologists is especially important in flood control. As hurricane Katrina showed, flooding is a major hazard in parts of our country.

Environmental preservation is another crucial area. These scientists analyze the ground water that surrounds us, looking for contamination. Many hydrologists advise businesses and government agencies who must comply with environmental policy.

A good part of the job, especially for junior workers, is spent in the field - in all types of weather. Trekking through rough country, climbing embankments, and getting wet is not uncommon. More experienced hydrologists tend to spend much of their time in the lab. Here they conduct tests, run experiments, record results, and compile data.

Knowledge of computers, math, and related sciences is essential. So is being able to present your findings to others, so good people and communication skills are a plus. Entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree. Certification in hydrology is recommended for more advanced employment. If you have a thirst for knowledge about the environment, consider a job as a hydrologist.

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.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Investigate properties, origins, and activities of glaciers, ice, snow, and permafrost.

Conduct short- and long-term climate assessments and study storm occurrences.

Develop or modify methods for conducting hydrologic studies.

Install, maintain, and calibrate instruments such as those that monitor water levels, rainfall, and sediments.

Develop computer models for hydrologic predictions.

Answer questions and provide technical assistance and information to contractors or the public regarding issues such as well drilling, code requirements, hydrology, and geology.

Monitor the work of well contractors, exploratory borers, and engineers and enforce rules regarding their activities.

Investigate complaints or conflicts related to the alteration of public waters, gathering information, recommending alternatives, informing participants of progress, and preparing draft orders.

Review applications for site plans and permits and recommend approval, denial, modification, or further investigative action.

Collect and analyze water samples as part of field investigations or to validate data from automatic monitors.

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.

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.
Interacting 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.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
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.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
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.
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.
Biology Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
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.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Mathematics Using mathematics to solve problems.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.