Job descriptions and industry overviews

Hydrologist: job description

25 Jan 2023, 13:39

Hydrologists research, develop and maintain safe and sustainable domestic or natural water management strategies.

Industrial water gauges and valves on a pipeline with a warning sign for hot surface.

Employers seek adaptable individuals with good technical ability and some degree-level knowledge and experience of mathematical modelling or data analysis

What does a hydrologist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

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

Typical employers of hydrologists

  • 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
  • Consultancies

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.

Qualifications and training required

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.

Key skills for hydrologists

  • Project management
  • Problem solving
  • Organisation
  • Teamworking
  • Communication skills
  • Good computing ability
  • Mathematical skills

Next: search graduate jobs and internships

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

People reading this also searched for roles in these areas:

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.