Hydrologist: job description
Hydrologists research, develop and maintain safe and sustainable domestic or natural water management strategies.
Employers seek adaptable individuals with good technical ability and some degree-level knowledge and experience of mathematical modelling or data analysis
Hydrologists apply scientific knowledge and mathematical principles to solve water-related problems such as quantity, quality and availability. Hydrologists could work on finding new water sources, predicting droughts or floods and reducing waste water.
Typical responsibilities of the job include:
- studying relationships between soil and rock features, rainfall and water run-off
- using specialist computer modelling applications
- recording and analysing water resource systems data
- employing statistical and hydrological modelling techniques
- determining the most effective water management methods
- assessing the impact of environmental changes and land use changes
- predicting and monitoring rainfall, water yields and usage
- liaising with clients, consultants, water regulators, researchers, external bodies and other professionals
- managing on-site data collection
- forecasting floods
- producing water and drought management plans
- ensuring appropriate regulations are implemented
- keeping up to date with scientific and technical developments
- making presentations
- supervising the work of hydrometrists and other staff
- Environmental bodies
- The Environment Agency
- National government
- Regional councils
- Public authorities
- Water or sewerage utility companies
- Research and development organisations
- The Natural Environment Research Council
Opportunities are advertised online, by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies, in national newspapers and in relevant scientific publications. Speculative applications are recommended – directories including Water Yearbook, the ENDS Environmental Consultancy Directory and Water UK provide details of water supply and sewerage companies.
- The recruitment process is likely to involve a technical interview. Read our article on technical interviews to find out what these involve and how you can tackle them.
- If you'd like to find out what your salary might look like, take a look at our article on how much you might earn in science on our TARGETcareers website.
A strong academic background is essential for all candidates. You will need a degree in an appropriate subject, eg geography, engineering, science, maths, or environmental studies. A relevant postgraduate qualification is also beneficial, particularly for research positions. The British Hydrological Society, together with the JBA Trust, provides a small number of studentships to help towards the costs of an Msc/MRes in a hydrology-related subject at a UK Higher Education Institution.
Read our article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options.
Pre-entry work experience can be difficult to obtain but is helpful for entry into the profession.
- Project management
- Problem solving
- Communication skills
- Good computing ability
- Mathematical skills
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