If you have a passion for environmental issues, a good understanding of scientific techniques and are interested in exploring diverse tasks and challenges every day, a career as a hydrologist might tick all your boxes.
Hydrologists monitor and manage water resources and seek to find solutions to prevent flood, droughts or other water-related threatening phenomena. They also investigate systems to improve and provide the most efficient water usage for companies or the public sector. The job roles can be diverse and usually include flood risk assessment, data collection, data interpretation and advising companies on how to use water resources efficiently.
- Hydrologists may encounter the following tasks during their day:
- Conducting field research and researching water flows and how they affect the environment
- Conducting water system audits and analysing the results
- Advising companies on how to use water resources in the most efficient and eco-friendly way
- Monitoring data collection and interpreting results
- Meeting with consultants and clients to discuss strategies and solutions for best water system use
- Developing and implementing efficient systems for water usage
- Presenting findings and results to consultants, clients or specialists
- Developing systems to better predict future water behaviour according to data collected and analysed
- Keep updated on the latest water resource trends and markets, and advise clients accordingly.
- Develop strategies on how to respond to weather-related water situations such as droughts or floods
- Develop drainage and river flood prevention systems
- Assist in realising hydrology projects and provide technical input
- Use data modelling software and oversee data collected on site
- Conduct field research on site and collect samples for valid data interpretation
- Work with statistics and data results to conduct audits
- Update and develop computer systems to analyse data faster and more efficiently.
- A scientific mind
- An eye for detail
- Good computer skills and an ability to work with data modelling software
- Great communication skills and an ability to collaborate with colleagues and clients
- An interest in water resource preservation
- An ability to work to tight deadlines and under pressure
- An ability and willingness to conduct and monitor precise research and present your findings confidently and intelligibly
- Excellent project management skills
- An excellent understanding of risk assessment and the importance of prioritising health and security on-site
- Outstanding organisational and methodical skills
A good bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject such as environment management, soil science or engineering, is normally required. Master’s degrees or even PhDs in relevant subjects are also often required. Additionally, memberships with institutions such as the ICE or CIWEM are sometimes demanded but always advantageous.
As hydrologists work on sites and therefore have to travel regularly, a driving licence is usually required.
As hydrologists’ work is often project or weather related, working hours can vary and a high degree of flexibility on your side is often expected. During extreme weather conditions, such as floods or droughts, working hours are likely to be long. However, during some phases of research, working from home may be an option, depending on your employer.
A typical starting salary for a hydrologist is around £20,000 to £25,000. Salaries for more experienced hydrologists are usually between £35,000 and £55,000.
With water resources diminishing and environmental awareness rising, hydrologists are in high demand and there is a broad range of opportunities - locally and globally. To broaden your opportunities, various institutions such as the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) or the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) offer courses and advanced training. Generally, hydrologists can work for companies, the public sector, consultancies or research institutions.
Your next steps may include:
Senior environmental consultant