Programs in hydrological engineering or related fields prepare students for careers in research or leadership. Available at the bachelor's or master's level, these programs cover topics like fluid mechanics and environmental law, providing a comprehensive look at the field.
A Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering program teaches a fundamental understanding of concepts related to the hydrological engineering field. Completion of a Master of Science in Hydrological Engineering or specialized training can prepare graduates to become hydrologists. Some states also require these professionals to earn licensure.
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering
This 4-year degree educates students about a wide array of environmental and urban engineering concerns. A high school diploma or GED is typically required when applying to bachelor's programs. To complement these lessons, coursework in calculus and chemistry as well as general education classes are included. Some programs also offer classes in hydrology or concentrations in water resource studies. Some classes related to hydrological engineering include:
- Basics and applications of fluid mechanics
- Storm-water systems design
- Subsurface and surface water facilities
- Designing hydraulic systems
- Data and statistical analysis of hydraulic systems
Master of Science in Hydrological Engineering
These 2-year degree programs have a variety of names; in some schools, they may be listed as hydraulic engineering or environmental hydrology programs. A bachelor's degree program is usually required for admittance to these programs. Civil engineering courses play a large part in the curriculum, which may or may not culminate in a thesis. Programs include both classroom and fieldwork study, but may be available online. Courses cover subjects in:
- Aqueous environmental chemistry
- Hydrological systems and snow
- Water treatment and reuse
- Urban hydrological systems design
- Environmental law studies
- Economics of natural resources
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Training in Hydrological Engineering
Short-term training programs in this discipline are available at some universities through programs designed for those who are already field professionals, as they often require a bachelor's degree for admittance. Another route includes a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) program which is open to civilians that combines advanced training and information sharing. Along with technology advances, these programs emphasize issues and concerns encountered in real-time professional situations. Subjects include:
- Integrated water-resource computer applications
- Dam maintenance and operation
- Coastal concerns in project planning
- Flood preparedness
- Reservoir and river sediment migration
Through advanced education, training and experience, hydrological engineers may progress to positions of authority. Some of the jobs include:
- Project manager
- Project leader
- Senior researcher
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Most civil engineering entry-level positions are open to those with a bachelor's degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities were predicted to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024 for civil engineers. The BLS reported that these professionals made a median wage of $82,220 per year in May 2015.
Conversely, the BLS predicted a 7% employment increase for hydrologists between 2014 and 2024. Those with master's degrees were expected to have greater opportunities in the job market, and private consulting firms were considered to offer more options than government jobs. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $79,550 for hydrologists as of May 2015.
States that have licensure usually require candidates to possess a combination of education and experience and pass an exam. The American Institute of Hydrology does offer certifications for professional hydrologists; these are mandatory in the state of Wisconsin. Certifications are available in ground water, surface water and fundamentals of hydrology. Examination requirements, guidelines and test questions can be found on the institute's website.
Pursuing a degree program in civil engineering can prepare you for several careers, including project manager, hydrologist, or senior researcher. Programs are available at the bachelor's and master's level, and additional training is available for professionals in the field.