Hydrologists are a very important category of environmental scientists that study the movement, distribution, circulation, and different aspects of the water bodies above and below the earth surface. They also study the availability of new water sources, harmful impact on the existing ones and explore solutions to prevent them from pollution and other dangers. They study rainfall, the path precipitation takes through the soil and rocks underground, and its return to the oceans and air.
The specialist skills of the Hydrologist are extensively used by governments in the field of mining, oil exploration, and infrastructural developments.
The Hydrologists are employed in government offices, consulting firms, large multinational companies, research based companies, and government laboratories. As government officials, the job of a hydrologist is to examine the impact of founding a structure near a water body and its result on the environment as a whole and send the report to the senior officials. He might recommend changes in the plan if possible or ask for termination of such a project. The natural resources are increasingly becoming scarce and protecting them is vital. Hence the hydrologists take the role of a conservationist. They predict water shortages, study the quality of potential water sources, or monitor the inflow and outflow of reservoirs. Some hydrologists forecast flooding, snowmelt, drought, and the formation and melting of river ice to top the ensuing disaster.
Large insurance and risk management firms hire hydrologists to calculate the risk and impact of any environmental phenomena on businesses and thereby chalk out the insurance and risk management measures. Research hydrologists perform an array of tasks such as predicting natural disasters from water bodies, analyzing current environmental laws and regulations, designing and monitoring disposal sites, estimating the impact of population explosion on the environment, and recommending measures for protecting water sources. Hydrologists also work extensively on cleansing polluted water bodies.
A hydrologist needs to hold a master's degree in environmental sciences, hydrology, or natural science. However, for research and faculty positions a PhD is imperative.
Knowledge of physics, soil science, oceanography, geophysics, chemistry, calculus, water quality, hydrology, hydraulics, meteorology, and ecology is very good to have in this field. Proficiency in computer science and statistics helps in making and maintaining records. Courses in environmental law, government policies, and economics also give the hydrologists an edge. Students who are adept at Global Positioning System (GPS), data analysis, and integration have an added advantage. Good communication skills and leadership qualities enable the hydrologists to deal with the people they work with, get budget approvals, and perform many other tasks on their desk.
The master degree and PhD programs to be a hydrologist can be obtained from various colleges and universities in the United States. Many environmental agencies are on a look out for volunteers, who assist in data collection and doing field work. Enrolling with these agencies as part time volunteers facilitates the hydrologist to observe the domain of their work from close quarters.
Hydrologists begin their career as assistant researchers and technicians in laboratories and field explorers. This provides them with great experience and exposure to challenging assignments. Acquiring an in-depth experience opens up vast career options for them. They can be promoted to senior researchers in this later stage of their career.
A large number of hydrologists work in government organizations, consulting, architectural, and engineering firms. Many hold teaching jobs in colleges and universities. Some of them are also self-employed as independent consultants who are hired by various agencies. Their career scope will steeply increase in future.
Like all other professions the salary of hydrologists depends on the qualification level and the experience they hold. Their salary ranges from $42,000 to $93,000.
If you want to serve as an environmental conservationist, then this career is a good option.