How To Become A Hydrologist (With Salary And Skills)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 15 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A hydrologist study, examine and research the distribution, circulation and properties of underground and surface water. The work these professionals do is important for maintaining the availability and quality of water. If you have a passion for analysing water samples, knowing more about this career path can help you decide whether it is the right career choice. In this article, we understand how to become a hydrologist, explore their typical day-to-day duties, discover their salary and discuss the skills required to become a successful hydrologist.

How To Become A Hydrologist

To understand how to become a hydrologist, follow these steps:

1. Complete your 10+2

The first step toward becoming a hydrologist is completing your higher secondary. As a science background is essential for becoming a hydrologist, consider pursuing a science stream with geography as a subject. This educational background helps in meeting the prerequisite for pursuing a bachelor's degree.

2. Earn your bachelor's degree

One popular undergraduate course to pursue is Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in hydrology. As only a few colleges offer such a specialised course, completing B.Sc in geology or earth sciences can put you on the path of becoming a hydrologist. The duration of a B.Sc degree is three years.

You can pursue an engineering degree in geoscience, environmental engineering, environmental science and civil engineering with a focus on geology or hydrology to become a successful hydrologist. The duration of the engineering course is four years. If you want a specialised degree, specifically in hydrology, consider studying the course at a foreign university.

3. Pursue your master's degree

After completing your undergraduate course, enrol in a master's programme to enhance your skills and increase your salary prospects. Depending on the undergraduate course you completed, you can pursue a Master of Technology (M.Tech) or Master of Engineering (M.E) or Master of Science (M.Sc) in hydrology or related areas. The duration of a master's programme is usually two years.

4. Gain work experience

Entry-level hydrologists work in a laboratory setting as research assistants or technicians. During your bachelor's or master's, you can gain relevant work experience through internships. These internships give hands-on experience of different job duties of a hydrologist. Employers prefer hiring candidates with some experience in hydrology, geology or water management.

5. Join a professional network

Joining a professional network of hydrologists or professionals who share the same passion can be a great way to strengthen your network. It can provide opportunities for career development. Such a professional network keeps you abreast of the latest information related to water management and ensures you are aware of the current affairs.

6. Pursue a doctorate

The highest education degree a hydrologist can achieve is pursuing their doctorate or PhD. If you want to become a professor or lecturer at a college, you may require a PhD in hydrology or related fields. You can even pursue M.Phil to advance your career in the academic field.

What Does A Hydrologist Do?

Hydrologists work with environmental scientists and other professionals to understand the natural source of water and how water gets distributed and circulated. These professionals collect samples of groundwater and surface water and analyse them. They understand the pollution level, pH level, water flow and other factors through their analysis. Apart from researching the properties of water, the day-to-day activities of these professionals are:

  • Determining water pollution levels

  • Working with state and central agencies on issues related to water resources

  • Collecting groundwater and surface water samples to analyse data to support projects and programs

  • Measuring water properties to find the pH level and volume

  • Installing water quality instrumentation to measure various properties, such as water level and rainfall

  • Preparing written reports, graphs and maps of their research and findings

  • Making use of historical data on water usage

  • Researching ways to improve water conservation

  • Modelling past and current data to predict the occurrence of floods, water scarcity and pollution

Related: What Is A Geologist? (With Duties, Skills And Salary)

Work Environment Of A Hydrologist

As hydrologists collect and analyse samples, they often work in the field and may spend some time in the laboratory. Some major sectors that hire a hydrologist are:

  • Public sector companies: As a hydrologist, you can work in planning and executing environment-related government programmes. You can even work with some top utility companies and public authorities that provide water supplies to households.

  • Research organisations: When you pursue a profession in teaching and research, you can even work in research organisations and as a professor in universities. These professionals use their analytical minds to understand and solve environmental issues.

  • Multimedia channels: TV channels and programmes that focus on climate and environment-related subjects may hire hydrologists to know their expert opinion. They even help in forecasting environmental conditions.

  • Private sector companies: Many private sector companies hire hydrologists and provide consulting services in environmental assessment, civil engineering and related areas.

Interestingly, hydrologists often swim through water bodies such as lakes or streams to collect sample data when working in the field. Bad weather may affect the fieldwork and this job requires extensive travel to different locations. When a hydrologist is not conducting fieldwork, they spend the most time in a laboratory environment analysing their fieldwork and modelling data to find meaningful solutions to water problems.

Average Salary Of A Hydrologist

The average salary of a hydrologist is ₹20,82,095 per year. Their exact salary depends upon the employer, education, experience and location. Your salary may depend upon the industry in which you are working. Hydrologists with engineering degrees may earn a higher salary because of the complexity of their job roles.

Related: Gross Salary And Net Salary: Definitions And Examples

Skills Of A Hydrologist

Hydrologist requires both technical and soft skills to excel in their workplace. Some critical skills to master are:

  • Critical thinking skills: The job of a hydrologist requires the ability to think critically to assess the risks associated with floods, droughts and pollution. You require critical thinking skills to develop effective plans to overcome such problems.

  • Analytical skills: As a hydrologist, you analyse various laboratory data and tests. The ability to comprehend data, analyse it and find meaningful information from analyses requires excellent analytical skills.

  • Computer skills: Hydrologists may spend a lot of time analysing the water sample they collect. As these scientists create data, graphs and spreadsheets, having basic knowledge of using computers is essential.

  • Communication skills: When collecting samples and analysing data, you work with different environmental scientists, which requires excellent verbal communication skills. Also, as you create reports regarding your findings, you need good writing skills.

  • Organisational skills: Hydrologists require good time management skills to work on multiple projects at the same time. The ability to organise your findings is essential for preparing comprehensive reports on hydrology.

  • Interpersonal skills: Often, hydrologists work as a part of a large team to achieve organisational goals. Employers prefer candidates with strong interpersonal skills because it helps build relationships and allows you to communicate with scientists and engineers.

  • Physical stamina: When working in the field, you may collect water samples from remote locations. You may carry your equipment and sampling tools for sample collection and this requires physical stamina.

  • Domain expertise: Having expert domain knowledge in hydrology and related areas is essential for fulfilling your job-specific duties. Also, employers prefer employees with strong technical knowledge as they help you analyse and find meaningful solutions to potential water-related problems.

Related: Soft Skills: Definitions And Examples

Job Roles Of A Hydrologist

Some common job roles of a hydrologist are:

  • Geoscientists: These are scientists who analyse the formation of rock to understand the Earth's past. They are also responsible for studying the physical aspect of Earth, such as structure and composition.

  • Conservation scientists: These scientists identify natural threats to the environment and how they would affect human beings. Using their observational skills, these scientists provide solutions to overcome these problems.

  • Environmental scientists: Environmental scientists use their knowledge of environmental science and natural science to protect the environment. They help in creating solutions that protect the environment and human health from hazards like pollution.

  • Environmental engineers: These professionals use the principle of biology, soil science and engineering to develop solutions to solve environmental problems. An environmental engineer plays a crucial role in providing a potential solution to water pollution and contamination.

  • Professors: With a post-graduate degree, you can start teaching hydrology, geology, environmental sciences and related areas in colleges.

Hydrologist Job Description Example

Here is a sample job description:

Our organisation is looking for a motivated and analytical researcher who is comfortable working in the field and laboratory. The candidate is responsible for measuring water quality, water quantities and properties. Our ideal candidate is someone who can maintain and develop water management techniques and strategies. A part of the hydrologist's job role involves collecting and analysing data to detect pollution and contamination level. We expect our employees to make accurate predictions about water scarcity and floods. To succeed in this role, we expect our candidate to have exceptional computational and analytical skills.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.


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