What Is Hydrological Engineering?

Hydrological engineering, sometimes called hydrologic engineering, is an engineering specialty that focuses on water resources. There are both undergraduate and graduate degree programs available in this field, leading to potential career options in education, engineering and consultancy.

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Hydrological Engineering: An Overview

Hydrological engineering, also called water resources engineering, is a civil engineering specialty offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Hydrological engineering is chiefly concerned with the flow and storage of water. Topics commonly covered include urban drainage, water supply, wastewater treatment, river management and coastal protection. Hydrological engineering also focuses on preventing floods and lessening the effects of floods, droughts and other natural disasters.

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Degree Programs

Hydrological engineering is primarily a graduate degree major but is also offered at the undergraduate level. Programs may be offered along with related disciplines, such as hydrologic science or hydraulic engineering. Students learn how to use science and mathematics to design water storing, moving and conserving systems. Course topics in a hydrological engineering program include water cycle management, flood control, soil physics, probability and numerical analysis.

Research opportunities are also available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Research projects might focus on a number of topics, including watershed hydrology, contaminant transport, turbulent flows and environmental hydraulics.

Salary and Employment Information

Hydrological engineers can find employment in many different industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the most popular industries for hydrological engineers in 2014 included federal, state and local government, engineering services and scientific and technical consulting companies.

The BLS noted that employment of hydrologists was expected to grow 7% from 2014 to 2024, which is as fast as average. The BLS also reported that in May 2014, hydrologists had an average annual salary of $81,930.

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