How to become a Hydrologist

Hydrologists measure, analyse and maintain the quantity and quality of water in rivers, lakes, stormwater and sewage. They use this information to plan and develop strategies for water conservation and the improvement of water quality.

Personal requirements of a Hydrologist

  • Able to work accurately and systematically
  • Able to communicate effectively
  • Aptitude for physics, mathematics and statistics
  • Mechanical ability and the ability to work with technology
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Able to work in confined spaces and at heights
  • Able to swim

Education & Training for a Hydrologist

To become a hydrologist you usually have to complete a VET qualification in water industry operations. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have a degree with a major in environmental science, hydrology, water science or natural resources. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, earth and environmental science, biology, chemistry and physics are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Hydrologist

Hydrologists may perform the following tasks:

  • select, install, maintain and repair instruments that monitor such things as water levels, water flows, ground water, rainfall and sediments
  • complete field observations and collect sample data at various locations to confirm data gathered by automatic monitors
  • prepare data for use by other professionals
  • provide advice to other professionals about civil works associated with water-related projects and activities (including dams, weirs, bridges, irrigation projects, water supply schemes, flood protection works, warning services and marine facilities)
  • prepare reports on sites, data collection and quality.

Working conditions for a Hydrologist

Hydrologists work in offices and in the field.

Employment Opportunities for a Hydrologist

The major employers of hydrologists include government departments, statutory authorities, the mining industry and consulting firms in hydrology, environmental science or environmental engineering. Competition for entry-level positions is very strong. The number of available assistant or trainee positions varies each year.

Additional Information
A current drivers licence and boating licence may be required. It may be possible to gain employment as a cadet or trainee with a government department without a degree if you have several years of relevant work experience. Graduates of approved courses are able to apply for membership and various levels of certification with the Australian Hydrographers Association.
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