H is for Hydrologist

By: Gillian Hogarth | 0 Comment

If you are looking for a career in the water industry, then a Hydrologist may be for you.

Water is one of our most important natural resources. Without it, there would be no life on earth. The supply of water available for our use is limited by nature.

Current issues with water scarcity and pollution from farming and chemical plants are adding to the worlds decreasing water supply. Droughts in the UK are causing endless problems to land and agriculture and hosepipe bans are becoming more widespread.

On the other side of the coin floods due to deforestation, increased rainfall and rising sea levels are also becoming a major issue not just internationally but in the UK. The ever increasing greenhouse effect and global warming is causing sea levels to rise and flooding low level land as well as towns and cities, causing devastation, loss of crops, landslides and death.

Hydrology has evolved as a science in response to the need to understand the complex water systems of the Earth and help solve water problems. Hydrologists play a vital role in finding solutions to water problems. There are various careers available for those who want to study Hydrology.

Hydrologists are involved in the monitoring, management and protection of water and water resources from rivers, streams and water courses. They may work for the Environment Agency, Councils, Universities, commercial firms or for an environmental consultancy.

Their work contributes to the efficient planning, development and sustainable use of natural and domestic water resources, ensuring water is supplied in the most cost-effective manner.

As a hydrologist you will work in a number of areas.
• On specialist computer packages to assess the most effective way of managing available water.
• Analyse environmental change and how it affects water flow.
• Study the effects of farming and agricultural methods on water flow.
• Study droughts and floods and help to put measure in place to plan and prevent events such as flood defence schemes, dams, flood barriers, and flood warning systems.
• Study water usage and rainfall
• Look at pollution of surface water and groundwater caused by many factors
• Assist with licencing of river water
• Keep up to date with environmental regulations and carry our relevant research for various bodies
• Data collection and analysis

Many junior hydrologists can start on around £25,000 with the salary increasing to £45,000 for more senior and Principal Hydrologists.


There are no specific degrees in the UK to become a Hydrologist however there are relevant degree subjects which cover elements of Hydrology and post graduate studies. A degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering or Ecology would be a suitable alternative or perhaps Geology, Environmental Science or Environmental Management.

Following on from your degree you may wish to specialise in a certain area of Hydrology and there are several courses you can take.
• aquatic resource management
• environmental engineering
• environmental management
• flood risk management
• hydrology and water quality
• water management
• Water resources.

There are a few governing bodies who can advise on the best route to take and often offer funding.

The British Hydrological Society
The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology 

More information can also be obtained from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).
The International Association of Hydrologists


Typical employers include:

• Water supply companies – see Water UK for details of water and sewerage operators
• Utility companies and public authorities that provide water and sewerage services
• Government and environmental bodies, including the Environment Agency (EA), regional councils, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
• Consultancies
• Research and development agencies,
• Research Council (NERC) and the WRc Group
• Educational institutions