How do I Become a Hydrologist?

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  • Written By: Soo Owens
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2020
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In order to become a hydrologist, post-secondary education is required. A high school education offers important courses that prospective hydrologists should take prepare them for later academic work. A master's degree in hydrology is considered the minimum required level of education to advance in the field.

Hydrologists study water in all its forms and locations. They can focus on water in and of itself, its supply and circulation, or water's interaction within the greater environment and ecosystem. Hydrologists pay close attention to precipitation and the water's cyclical journey from its fall through its return to the ocean.

The information that hydrologists gather is useful to a various agencies in both government and private spheres. The work they do contributes to conservation efforts and helps sustain the balance between human endeavors near or in the water and its usage. Hydrologists also observe the quantity, quality, and behavior of this water, which often leads agencies to acquire a hydrologist's expertise and to hire him or her in an advisory position.


While still in high school, make sure to take computer science courses, as hydrologists are tasked with sorting through copious amounts of information that is acquired via computer systems and software. Take advantage of available math and science courses, especially any that are advanced placement. English courses should not be neglected, however. Hydrologists must be able to analyze data, formulate arguments, and write reports, and the knowledge required to effectively complete such written tasks can be gained by taking English courses.

When studying to become a hydrologist at the collegiate level, it is best to major in a related field such as forestry, geology, or agricultural engineering, as hydrology is not likely to be offered as a major at the bachelor's degree level. Math classes through calculus should be considered the minimum math requirements for a hydrology career. There are many science courses that must be taken including meteorology, chemistry, physics, and any water studies classes.

After completing a bachelor's degree, a master's degree is mandatory for someone who wants to become a hydrologist. Look for schools with a hydrology specific graduate program. These programs may have specializations in various hydrology subfields. Following the completion of a master's degree, a doctoral degree is recommended, as it may offer the hydrologist additional credibility and the ability to acquire research positions that a master's does not usually afford.

A great deal of outdoor physical work is required for hydrologists. Anyone seeking to become a hydrologist should make an effort to prepare themselves for manual labor, if not already accustomed to such work. A hydrologist's work is not confined to one particular geographic location, resulting in frequent travel between places with varying climates.


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