Hydrologist


What they do

Hydrologists study and monitor the occurrence, quality and movement of water. They study how water enters the atmosphere through evaporation then returns to the earth as rain, or snow, returning to rivers and oceans, or filtering through soil to enter underground water sources, such as the Yarragadee Aquifer. Hydrologists are able to provide advice on how to manage the State's water supply, ensure that drinking water is safe, help develop drought management plans, and predict floods. Some hydrologists may develop strategies to remove pollutants, such as industrial and agricultural run-off from rivers, wetlands and other water sources.

Working conditions

Hydrologists work for organisations involved with environmental management and/or conservation. This can include government organisations, such as the Department of Water and the Bureau of Meteorology, as well as private organisations. They usually divide their time between working in an office or laboratory and conducting field work. Hydrologists may travel all over the State, fexamining dams just a few hours' from Perth, to more remote locations. Some hydrologists may even get to travel to Antarctica to study ice samples that are thousands of years old. When working in an office they generally work regular office hours. During field work they generally work longer hours, and may also work weekends.

Tools and technologies

Hydrologists use a range of laboratory equipment to test water sources for acidity, the presence of harmful chemicals and salinity (salt) levels. They may use a range of drilling and coring equipment to collect samples of water from underground water sources, or simply dip a sterile vessel into easy to reach surface water. Some hydrologists also use equipment to monitor weather conditions, such as atmospheric pressure and humidity, which can help in predicting rainfall.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a hydrologist you need to complete a degree in science, majoring in environmental science or a related field (such as geology, marine science, water science and hydrology). Completion of a post graduate qualification may also improve your employment prospects.

All of the universities in Western Australia offer relevant science degrees. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.