Job Universe: Hydrologists

Hydrologists study the quantity, distribution, circulation, and physical properties of bodies of water.

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  • The job: Hydrologists study the quantity, distribution, circulation, and physical properties of bodies of water. Often, they specialize in either underground water or surface water. They examine the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, its movement through the earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere. Hydrologists use sophisticated techniques and instruments.
  • Outlook: Growth in employment of hydrologists will be spurred largely by the increasing demands placed on the environment and water resources by population growth. Employment of hydrologists is expected to increase by 24 percent between 2006 and 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for hydrologists who understand both the scientific and engineering aspects of waste remediation should be strong. Few colleges and universities offer programs in hydrology, so the number of qualified workers may be limited.
  • Experience: A bachelor's degree in an earth science is adequate for a few entry-level positions, but a master's degree is the minimum educational requirement for most entry-level applied research positions in private industry, in state and federal agencies, and at state geological surveys. A doctoral degree generally is necessary for college teaching and most research positions.
  • The not-so-good: Researchers and consultants might face stress when looking for funding. Occasionally, those who write technical reports to business clients and regulators may be under pressure to meet deadlines and thus have to work long hours.
  • Pay: Median annual earnings of hydrologists were $66,260 in 2006, with the middle 50 percent earning between $51,370 and $82,140.

Learn more: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos050.htm

This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.