Physical Sciences

Hydrologists apply scientific knowledge and mathematical principles to solve water-related problems such as quantity, quality and availability. Hydrologists could work on finding new water sources, predicting droughts or floods and reducing waste water.

Work Activities

Responsibilities of the job include:

  • studying relationships between soil and rock features, rainfall and water run-off
  • using specialist computer modelling applications
  • recording and analysing water resource systems data
  • employing statistical and hydrological modelling techniques
  • determining the most effective water management methods
  • assessing the impact of environmental changes and land use changes
  • predicting and monitoring rainfall, water yields and usage
  • liaising with clients, consultants, water regulators, researchers, external bodies and other professionals
  • managing on-site data collection
  • forecasting floods
  • producing water and drought management plans
  • ensuring appropriate regulations are implemented
  • keeping up to date with scientific and technical developments
  • making presentations
  • supervising the work of hydrometrists and other staff

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for hydrologists

  • Project management
  • Problem solving
  • Organisation
  • Teamworking
  • Communication skills
  • Good computing ability
  • Mathematical skills

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of hydrologists

  • Environmental bodies
  • The Environment Agency
  • National government
  • Regional councils
  • Public authorities
  • Water or sewerage utility companies
  • Research and development organisations
  • The Natural Environment Research Council
  • Consultancies

Opportunities are advertised online, by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies, in national newspapers and in relevant scientific publications. Speculative applications are recommended – directories including Water Yearbook, the ENDS Environmental Consultancy Directory and Water UK provide details of water supply and sewerage companies.

  • The recruitment process is likely to involve a technical interview. read the TARGETjobs article on technical interviews to find out what these involve and how you can tackle them.


Qualifications and training required

A strong academic background is essential for all candidates. You will need a degree in an appropriate subject, eg geography, engineering, science, maths, or environmental studies. A relevant postgraduate qualification is also beneficial, particularly for research positions. The British Hydrological Society, together with the JBA Trust, provides a small number of studentships to help towards the costs of an MSc/MRes in a hydrology-related subject at a UK Higher Education Institution.

Read the TARGETjobs article on scientific postgraduate study to explore your different options and visit the science section of TARGETpostgrad for lots more advice.

Pre-entry work experience can be difficult to obtain but is helpful for entry into the profession.

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