Hydrogeologist: what they do, how to become one, and where to study

ProfGuide Updated 
Hydrogeologist: what they do, how to become one, and where to study

When we turn on the tap, most of us take for granted the seemingly endless supply of water that we rely on every day. But behind the scenes, there is a group of professionals working tirelessly to ensure that this precious resource remains accessible and clean. These are the hydrogeologists - experts in the study of groundwater and the geologic processes that shape it. By the way, recently the ProfGuide career guidance center has developed a precise career orientation test, which will tell you which professions are suitable for you, provide a conclusion about your personality type and intelligence.


If you're interested in water and geology, a career as a hydrogeologist may be right for you. In this article, we'll explore the ins and outs of this profession, including specializations, job responsibilities, salary ranges, and more.

Introduction to Hydrogeologist as a profession

Hydrogeology is a branch of geology that deals with the study of water in the Earth's subsurface. Hydrogeologists use a variety of tools and techniques to study groundwater, including drilling, well testing, and geophysical surveys. They work to understand how water moves through the ground, where it comes from, and what contaminants it may contain.


There are many different specializations within the field of hydrogeology, including:

  • Groundwater modeling
  • Water resource management
  • Contaminant hydrogeology
  • Hydrogeochemistry
  • Environmental geology
  • Engineering geology

Tasks and responsibilities

Some common tasks and responsibilities of hydrogeologists include:

  • Conducting field investigations to collect data on groundwater systems
  • Analyzing data to create maps and models of groundwater systems
  • Developing strategies to manage and protect groundwater resources
  • Evaluating the environmental impact of proposed projects on groundwater resources
  • Communicating technical information to clients and stakeholders

Pros and Cons

As with any profession, there are both pros and cons to a career in hydrogeology. Here are some of the key points to consider:


  • High demand: As concerns about water scarcity and contamination continue to grow, the need for hydrogeologists is expected to increase.
  • Rewarding work: Hydrogeologists play a crucial role in protecting and managing our planet's water resources.
  • Job variety: Hydrogeologists can work in a variety of settings, from consulting firms to government agencies to research institutions.


  • Fieldwork can be physically demanding: Hydrogeologists often spend long hours working outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions.
  • High stress: Hydrogeologists may need to work under tight deadlines and with large amounts of data.
  • Limited job growth: While the demand for hydrogeologists is expected to grow, the number of available positions may be limited.


In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of geoscientists (which includes hydrogeologists) will grow by 5% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for hydrogeologists is expected to be particularly high in regions with water scarcity or contamination issues, such as the Southwest and California.

Salary ranges

The salary range for hydrogeologists can vary widely depending on factors such as location, experience, and specialization. Here are some general ranges for hydrogeologist salaries in four countries:

  • United States: $47,000 - $135,000 per year
  • Canada: CAD 54,000 - CAD 136,000 per year
  • United Kingdom: £22,000 - £62,000 per year
  • Australia: AU$61,000 - AU$155,000 per year

Where do Hydrogeologists work?

Hydrogeologists can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Consulting firms: Hydrogeologists may work for companies that provide services related to groundwater, such as site assessments or water supply evaluations.
  • Government agencies: Hydrogeologists may work for federal, state, or local government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the United States Geological Survey.
  • Research institutions: Hydrogeologists may work for universities or other research institutions, conducting research and developing new techniques for studying groundwater.
  • Non-profit organizations: Hydrogeologists may work for non-profit organizations that focus on environmental or conservation issues.

Hydrogeologists are needed to ensure that we have access to clean, safe water for drinking, agriculture, and industry. They work to identify and manage groundwater resources, prevent contamination, and develop solutions to water-related challenges.

Important qualities of a successful Hydrogeologist

To be a successful hydrogeologist, you'll need to have:

  • Strong analytical skills: Hydrogeologists must be able to analyze large amounts of data to understand groundwater systems and make informed decisions.
  • Excellent communication skills: Hydrogeologists must be able to communicate technical information to a variety of audiences, including clients, stakeholders, and policymakers.
  • Physical stamina: Hydrogeologists may spend long hours working outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions.
  • Attention to detail: Hydrogeologists must be able to identify small changes in groundwater systems that may have big implications.
  • Curiosity: Hydrogeologists must be constantly curious about the natural world and motivated to learn more about it.

Step-by-step career path

If you're interested in becoming a hydrogeologist, here's a general outline of the steps you'll need to take:

  1. Earn a Bachelor's degree in geology, hydrology, or a related field.
  2. Gain experience through internships or entry-level positions in the field.
  3. Consider earning a Master's degree in hydrogeology or a related field to increase your job prospects and earning potential.
  4. Gain professional certification, such as the Certified Hydrogeologist (CHg) credential offered by the National Ground Water Association.
  5. Gain experience in your chosen specialization through on-the-job training and continuing education.

How to become a Hydrogeologist

In the United States, a Bachelor's degree is typically the minimum educational requirement for a career in hydrogeology. Some employers may prefer or require a Master's degree, particularly for positions involving research or management.

Higher education programs in hydrogeology or a related field typically include coursework in geology, hydrology, chemistry, and environmental science. Some programs may also include fieldwork or research opportunities.

Professional certification is not always required for hydrogeologists, but it can help demonstrate your expertise and increase your job prospects. The National Ground Water Association offers a Certified Hydrogeologist (CHg) credential, which requires passing an exam and demonstrating a certain level of education and experience.

Where to become a Hydrogeologist

If you're interested in studying hydrogeology, here are five examples of universities in each of the four countries discussed earlier:

United States:

  1. University of Arizona
  2. University of California, Berkeley
  3. Colorado School of Mines
  4. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  5. Penn State University


  1. University of Waterloo
  2. University of British Columbia
  3. Queen's University
  4. University of Calgary
  5. University of Saskatchewan

United Kingdom:

  1. Imperial College London
  2. University of Birmingham
  3. University of Edinburgh
  4. University of Leeds
  5. University of Strathclyde


  1. University of New South Wales
  2. University of Adelaide
  3. Monash University
  4. University of Western Australia
  5. University of Queensland

Can you enter the profession with a different degree?

While a degree in geology or hydrology is the most common path to a career in hydrogeology, it is possible to enter the profession with a degree in a related field such as environmental science or civil engineering. However, additional coursework or on-the-job training may be necessary to develop the specialized knowledge and skills required for the job.

In summary, hydrogeology is a fascinating and important field that plays a crucial role in managing and protecting our planet's water resources. While the work can be physically demanding and stressful, it can also be highly rewarding and varied. With a strong foundation in geology, hydrology, and related fields, and a commitment to ongoing learning and professional development, you can build a successful career as a hydrogeologist.


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