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Hydrologist  What They Do

Just the Facts

Researches the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; studies 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.

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster Environmental Systems pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Designs and conducts scientific hydrogeological investigations to ensure that accurate and appropriate information is available for use in water resource management decisions.
  • Prepares written and oral reports describing research results, using illustrations, maps, appendices, and other information.
  • Studies and documents quantities, distribution, disposition, and development of underground and surface waters.
  • Installs, maintains, and calibrates instruments, such as those that monitor water levels, rainfall, and sediments.
  • Studies public water supply issues, including flood and drought risks, water quality, wastewater, and impacts on wetland habitats.
  • Prepares hydrogeologic evaluations of known or suspected hazardous waste sites and land treatment and feedlot facilities.
  • Conducts research and communicates information to promote the conservation and preservation of water resources.
  • Applies research findings to help minimize the environmental impacts of pollution, waterborne diseases, erosion, and sedimentation.
  • Evaluates research data in terms of its impact on issues such as soil and water conservation, flood control planning, and water supply forecasting.
  • Evaluates data and provide recommendations regarding the feasibility of municipal projects, such as hydroelectric power plants, irrigation systems, flood warning systems, and waste treatment facilities.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overnight travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Environmental Consultant -- Advises on such areas as pollution, contaminated land and environmental policy and can involve fieldwork, conducting tests and surveys, collating and presenting environmental data and auditing processes for efficiency and environmental impact.
  • Geologist -- Studies the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth as well as the processes and history that has shaped it.
  • Isotope Hydrologist -- Applies isotope research to studies in hydrology and natural biogeochemical cycles, develops novel isotope applications in earth and environmental sciences, and contributes to modeling the behavior of isotopes in earth and environmental systems.
  • Seismologist -- Studies and interprets seismic data to locate earthquakes and earthquake faults.
  • Volcanologist -- Tries to understand how and why volcanoes erupt, tries to predict future eruptions as well as trying to understand the health and environmental impacts on the Earth.