Hydrologist: Job Outlook & Career Information

Mar 07, 2019

Explore what the profession of a hydrologist entails. Learn about the training, job duties, salary and employment outlook, and see if this is the right job for you.

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Career Definition of a Hydrologist

Hydrologists locate water and other natural resources located underneath the earth's surface. They also study various bodies of water, track rainfall levels, analyze the composition of rain in different locations and compute how quickly rain is absorbed into the soil. Hydrologists often work near large bodies of water or near underground water sources.

Education Master of Science or doctorate degree
Job Skills Data collection and analysis, mathematics, and communication skills
Median Salary (2017) $79,990 for hydrologists
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 10% increase for hydrologists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics


While it is possible to find some entry-level jobs in hydrology that only require a bachelor's degree, applicants for most positions will need to have a master's degree or a doctorate. It takes most students four years to obtain a bachelor's degree, an additional two years for a master's and four more years to complete the work needed for a doctorate. Students interested in hydrology should take courses on geology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology.

Skills Required

Hydrologists need to be able to gather, interpret and analyze data, use complex computer software and understand advanced mathematical concepts. They should also be able to effectively communicate their ideas both verbally and in writing.

Career and Economic Outlook

Due to an increased focus in environmental protection for many private firms, there is expected to be about a 10% increase in hydrology jobs from 2016-2026, which is as fast as average for all jobs. The median salary for hydrologists in 2017 was $79,990 annually, as indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Other career options in this field include:

Environmental Scientist and Specialist

Those interested in working to improve the environment, but who wish to enter a profession more quickly, might want to consider earning a bachelor's degree in natural science to secure a job reducing industrial waste, cleaning up polluted areas or advising policy makers about the environment. A faster than average job growth of 11% was projected by the BLS, from 2016-2026, and an annual median salary of $69,400 was reported in 2017.

Urban and Regional Planner

By earning a master's degree in planning, these professionals then seek employment developing land-use plans for communities that consider their physical facilities and anticipated population growth. A faster than average increase of 13% was expected in available positions, during the 2016-2026 decade, for planners. In 2017, the BLS revealed their annual median wage of $71,490.

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