Jobs that Involve the Water

There are many different jobs that involve water, whether it is managing this valuable resource or using it in some beneficial way. Learn about the salaries, expected job growth and education requirements for a few jobs involving water.

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Career Options Involving the Water

Water is one of our most valuable natural resources, and therefore, there are many jobs that involve water in some way. Careers involving water vary across fields as people study and work to conserve and/or distribute it. Here we look at a few of the jobs that may involve water more than other careers.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Hydrologists $80,480 7%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $68,910 11%
Environmental Engineers $84,890 12%
Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators $45,760 6%
Water Transportation Workers $54,870 9%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Jobs that Involve the Water


Hydrologists could be considered the scientists of water, as they study all aspects of this natural resource. They typically measure bodies of water for things like stream flow or volume, collect samples to test for pollution or pH and look at the effects of things like erosion or drought on a body of water. They may also study groundwater levels, how water moves in a particular area and water availability. Their work is often used to forecast future water supplies and check the feasibility of water-based projects. Most hydrologists have at least a bachelor's or master's degree.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists monitor different sites and their conditions to help protect the environment, as well as human health. Their fieldwork requires observations and the collection of different samples for laboratory testing, including water, soil and air samples. They may test these samples for pollution and other environmental threats. Their findings are often used to advise policymakers concerning environmental issues, as well as to monitor environmental improvements in a particular area after a solution has been implemented. Environmental scientists and specialists typically have at least a bachelor's degree in environmental science or a related subject, such as chemistry or biology.

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers use science and engineering principles to solve an array of environmental problems. Some of these problems involve water resources, and some environmental engineers may even specialize in water-related issues. For example, these engineers may work to improve things like water pollution control or solve issues like unsafe drinking water. These engineers have a variety of job duties, including conducting quality-control checks, designing projects for environmental protection, monitoring environmental improvement programs and more. These professionals need a bachelor's degree in engineering, and some related experience could prove beneficial on the job hunt.

Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators oversee much of our usable water. They control machines that work to treat or move wastewater, as well as test water and sewage samples. These operators also check and maintain equipment, take gauge readings, ensure safety in their facilities and comply with all environmental regulations. Water treatment plants specialize in doing all of these things for the water that we use every day, including drinking water, while wastewater treatment plants specialize in treating wastewater before it is released back into bodies of water. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators need a high school diploma, license and on-the-job training.

Water Transportation Workers

Water transportation workers primarily operate water vessels that are used to move products and/or people across different bodies of water. These workers follow a strict order of command as they operate these vessels and ensure the safety of everyone on board. Specific job titles include the captain, who commands a ship; the deck officers, who oversee the vessel when the captain is off duty; the pilots, who guide the ship; sailors, who operate and maintain the ship and equipment; ship engineers, who oversee the propulsion system; and marine oilers, who help engineers and work in the engine room.

Since there are several different jobs that are considered to be part of the water transportation industry, education requirements vary. Sailors and oilers may not need formal postsecondary education, but engineers and officers may need a certificate from the Coast Guard. Most of these workers need the Transportation Worker Identification Credential from the Transportation Security Administration along with a Merchant Marine Credential.

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