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The complete career guide to be a Hydrologist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $83,440
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 7.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Get to Travel
    Career Attribute

Hydrologists apply scientific knowledge to water related issues like quantity, quality and availability.  They search for new water sources, predict droughts and floods and find solutions on how to reduce waste water.

Recommended Schools

What is a Hydrologist?

The following responsibilities are common for hydrologists:

  • Studies relationships between soil and rocks formations as it relates to rainfall and water run-off
  • Records and analyzes water resource systems data
  • Forecasts floods and recommends water and drought reductions plans
  • Determines the most effective and appropriate water management methods
  • Predicts and monitors rainfall, water yields and water usage

A Day In The Life

Hydrologists study how water moves through the earth’s crust and develops in the earth’s atmosphere.  They study how rain, snow and other forms of precipitation impact fiver flows and ground water levels and how that water then evaporates back into the atmosphere.

They will use remote sensing equipment and tools to do research and collect data.  Complex computer models are made with highly sophisticated computer programs to analyze the data they collect.  They also use geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) equipment and tools to assist them with their research.

Most individuals specialize in certain aspects or specific water sources and water cycles like precipitation, evaporation, droughts and flooding.  For example:

Groundwater Hydrologist-studies the water below the earth’s surface.  They generally focus on the clean-up of contaminated groundwater.  While others focus on finding and maintaining water supply and finds the best locations of wells.

Surface Water Hydrologist-studies water above ground like streams, lakes and ponds.  They try to collect precipitation data to attempt to predict future water levels and potential drought levels.  They also produce future flood forecasts and develop water management plans.

Typical Work Schedule

This is a full-time position.  Often spent in an office or laboratory, but also spent on location studying different sites.

Projected Job Growth

There is an ever-increasing need for individuals to learn responsible water use in the face of increasing environmental concerns.  Therefore, there will be an increase in the need for hydrologists to assist in the public education in responsible energy, waste disposal and water usage.

Typical Employers

Most hydrologists work for the government agencies, environmental agencies and programs, water and sewer companies, and they also work as consultants for research and development organizations.


Recommended Schools

How To Become a Hydrologist

Individuals pursuing this career are required to at least obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related subject such as geology, water engineering or mathematics.  Classes that focus on computer sciences, mathematics, hydrology and geology are vital.

Most hydrologists have acquired a master’s degree in geosciences.  They focus on applying scientific methods and principles in real-world situations to help control pollution and helps prevent human and natural disasters.  They must possess a knowledge of scientific principles and theories along with real-life applications for being an expert in rock and water formations.



Hydrologist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Hydrologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Hydrologist's can make an average annual salary of $83,440, or $40 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $62,590 or $30 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #126 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Hydrologist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Hydrologists

  • 9.4%   Doctorate
  • 36.8%   Masters
  • 47.1%   Bachelors
  • 2.3%   Associates
  • 4.1%   College
  • 0%   High School
  • 0.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Hydrologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 500 jobs for a total of 7,500 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 7.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #310 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Hydrologists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Federal government, excluding postal service 1,900 -100 0%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 1,600 400 0%
Engineering services 1,200 100 0%

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