Hydrogeologist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 24, 2019

A hydrogeologist requires significant formal education. Learn about the degree, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Hydrogeologists are trained to study subterraneous water formations. They typically have a background in geoscience, and have job opportunities in a variety of industries including, construction, hazardous waste, environmental protection, or research. Read more about which types of projects and industries need hydrogeologists, and the post-secondary education that is necessary to break into this field.

Essential Information

Hydrogeologists study the location, movement, and quality of water formations that are below the surface of the Earth. Their research is used for construction projects, aquifer protection, and for the safe disposal of hazardous waste, among other uses. Most employers require employees in this field to hold a Master's degree in a geoscience-related field. In addition, some states require hydrogeologists to be licensed. A person interested in science, geology, and performing research might find this to be an enjoyable career field.

Required Education Master's degree in geoscience-related field
Other Requirements Licensure required by some states
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 7% (for all hydrologists)
Average Salary (2018)* $82,790 (for hydrologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Hydrogeologist Job Description

Hydrogeologists, also called hydrologists, are scientists who study subsurface water formations. Specifically, they look at water's location, movement and quality. Their work leads them to take on 'clean water' projects, such as in construction jobs and aquifer protection, as well as 'dirty water' projects, like handling hazardous waste and ensuring user compliance with environmental regulations.

Hydrogeologist Job Duties

In analyzing water beneath the soil, hydrogeologists employ methods familiar to many other scientists. They set up, calibrate, utilize and maintain instruments that help them monitor water levels, pollution content and more. They generate notes and reports of what they find in their investigations. They also propose or alter methods of research and investigation into water formations as necessary.

In addition to general environmental research, the services of hydrogeologists may be contracted by public or private organizations to solve specific problems. Their research is utilized in industries like mining, construction and manufacturing. They can be employed by company owners, lawyers, a contracting firm or the general public.

Hydrogeologist Requirements


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that most jobs in the geosciences field require a master's degree. Master's programs in geosciences are available at many universities. They focus on applying scientific methods and principles to real-world situations in order to control pollution, prevent human-caused natural disasters and more.

Most universities don't offer curricula specifically in hydrology. However, students can often specialize in the field while studying the geosciences. Typically these programs feature courses dedicated to hydrogeology and include lab or field experience.


The BLS noted that some states require geoscientists to be licensed, especially if they work for the public (as opposed to government institutions). License requirements vary by state. However, candidates are usually expected to have earned a mix of educational and work experience, as well as to pass an examination.

Hydrogeologist Career Outlook and Salary

The BLS reported that hydrologists could expect a 7% increase in jobs over the 2018-2028 decade. This is a moderate growth rate compared to all U.S. occupations, and reflects the need for responsible energy use in the face of environmental concerns. In May 2018, hydrologists earned an average yearly salary of $82,790, with top employers being the federal government, scientific/technical consulting services, and architectural and engineering firms.

Hydrogeologists typically have a master's degree and possess a knowledge of scientific principles with real life applications for knowing about water formations beneath the soil. Job duties range depending on the employer, but could include clean water protection, dirty water removal, construction, and environmental research.

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