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Hydrologist

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Summary of occupation

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.

ANZSCO description: Hydrologists study and monitor the occurrence, quality and movement of water.
Alternative names: Field Hydrologist, Hydrographical Technical Officer, Hydrological Technical Officer, Hydrometric Technician
Specialisations: Hydrogeologist
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A hydrologist needs:

  • an interest in environmental science
  • to be prepared to work both indoors and outdoors
  • strong written and verbal communication skills
  • to be prepared to work in remote locations
  • good organisational skills.
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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.

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Salary details

On average, hydrologists, classified under environmental scientists, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a hydrologist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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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.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

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. 

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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