How To Become A Hydrologist In Australia: A Complete Guide

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Students want to know how to become hydrologists in Australia.


Do you enjoy mathematics, science, solving problems, and research work? If yes, consider a career as a hydrologist in Australia.


Hydrogeologists monitor, measure, assess, and describe the earth's surface and several aspects of the water cycle. They also study circulation and water distribution in water bodies to improve and maintain their quality and availability.


To become a hydrologist in Australia, you need a bachelor's degree in science focusing on hydrology, geology, or a related field. Also, completing postgraduate studies in natural science, physical science, or a related subject is common.


This blog discusses the hydrologist's responsibilities, skills, average earnings, qualifications, courses, career paths, where they work, salary, the steps to becoming one, and much more.



1. What Are Hydrologists?


Hydrologists study the water flow across and through the earth's crust. They use complex computer software and remote sensing equipment to research the properties and distribution of groundwater and surface water.


They build strategies to solve water quality and availability issues based on their findings. Hydrologists work alongside public officials, environmental scientists, and policymakers to conserve and enhance the environment.



2. What Does A Hydrologist Do?


The day-to-day duties of hydrologists vary based on the work location, experience, and job profile.


They spend time gathering and analysing samples and liaising with policymakers and scientists to develop strategies to solve public water supply issues. They aim to maintain the availability and quality of the water supply.


Here is a list of tasks and duties of a hydrologist:


  • Conduct surveys of petroleum, mineral, and natural gas deposits with prospectors, metallurgists, mining engineers, and mineral scientists

  • Perform sampling using chemical, electronic, optical, and mechanical techniques to examine geological specimens 

  • Manage information on water resources 

  • Collect surface water and groundwater to conduct tests 

  • Analyse meteorological, hydrologic, and rainfall data 

  • Install, calibrate, and monitor instruments that measure the quality, volume, and flow of water

  • Formulate estimations based on data analysis of water resources

  • Travel to different sites to perform hydrologic investigations and testing 

  • Prepare presentations, laboratory reports, scientific papers, and maps of hydrogeology data for stakeholders and clients.

  • Identify and understand trends in hydrologic systems.

  • Conduct surveys of changes in the magnetic and gravitational fields of the earth to determine its physical features

  • Examine hydroelectric power plants, sewer water treatment facilities, and irrigation systems.

  • Identify the level of pollution and contamination in water sources such as rivers, dams, lakes, reservoirs, or stormwater.

  • Use computer software to predict future conditions of water supplies, the spread of pollution, floods, erosions, droughts, volcanos, earthquakes, and other events.

  • Work with state, federal, and local governments to solve water-related issues. 

  • Examine data and provide guidance related to water resource management

  • Create consulting reports for civil works such as dams, bridges, irrigation projects, weirs, flood protection works, marine facilities, warning services, and water supply schemes



3. Skills Needed To Be A Hydrologist


Having learned about the duties, let's find out what personal attributes and technical skills you need to perform the job efficiently and succeed in this role.



Technical skills


  • Understanding of scientific data and data/sample collection

  • Knowledge of operating specialist equipment

  • Good understanding of physics, statistics, and mathematics 

  • Mechanical ability 

  • Able to work with technology

  • Computer skills to use computer software to interpret data and predict future events



Soft Skills


  • Able to communicate effectively

  • Able to work accurately and methodically

  • Able to work in a team or independently 

  • Able to work at heights or in enclosed spaces 

  • Able to swim

  • Physical stamina

  • Critical thinking

  • Analytical skills

  • Time management and organisational skills

  • Multitasking

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Comfortable working in all types of weather conditions



4. Qualifications To Become A Hydrologist In Australia


If you possess the requisite skills, the next step is to learn about the formal education and training requirements to become a hydrologist in Australia.


  • You need Australian Year 12 (or equivalent) in English, mathematics, chemistry, physics, environmental science, and biology.

  • Complete a science bachelor's degree in Hydrology, geologyenvironmental science, natural resources, or water science, such as the Bachelor of Science (Hydrology).

  • Consider completing a postgraduate qualification with a major in groundwater hydrology, such as a Master of Science (Groundwater Hydrology) or a Graduate Diploma in Science (Groundwater Hydrology), to boost your professional profile.

  • Become a professional association member, such as the International Association of Hydrogeologists, to stay updated with the latest industry news, career opportunities, and developments. 

  • A current boating and driver's license may be required to work in the fields.



5. How To Become A Hydrologist In Australia?


Aspiring hydrologists should aim to gain qualifications within the field, build the necessary skills for the role, and obtain relevant work experience.


Here is the step-by-step guide to becoming a hydrologist:



Step 1: Study Hydrology


Complete an undergraduate degree in science with a major in hydrology, environmental science, or natural resources. 


A Bachelor of Hydrology course provides an overview of methods that determine the origin, amount, and water flows in terrestrial, marine, and atmospheric systems, focusing on prevalent water issues in Australia.


The course covers the following topics:


  • Operation of hydrological systems 

  • Application of the scientific method to identify issues related to this discipline

  • Use analytical methods and computer software for data analysis 



Step 2: Complete A Postgraduate Qualification


Though not necessary, a Master of Science specialising in groundwater hydrology is beneficial to advance to higher positions. Alternatively, you can take a Graduate Diploma in Science focusing on (Groundwater Hydrology) or (Hydro-geology specialisation).


The Groundwater Hydrology program enables engineers, scientists, and other environmental professionals to understand hydrological phenomena.


Further, it gives them an understanding of processes and the relation of groundwater with vegetation and surface water hydrology.


Areas covered include groundwater basics, ecohydrology, and public health aspects of water quality.



Step 3: Obtain Relevant Work Experience


Work experience before applying can give you a competitive edge and improve your entry into the profession.


Recent graduates should look for internships or entry-level positions. These include technicians or research assistant roles in an office or laboratory to build valuable industry experience, technical skills, and insights.



Step 4: Join A Professional Body


Once qualified, apply for membership in a professional association, for example, the International Association of Hydrogeologists.


It helps widen your network and find career opportunities and relevant educational resources to expand your knowledge of groundwater resources.


Industry bodies:




6. Hydrology Courses In Australia


Hydrology and groundwater resources are the main factors contributing to the sustainability of the environment and society.


Hydrology courses teach how the natural world works and how to think critically and logically. These are valuable transferable skills that employers look for in all employment sectors. 


The degree courses help students explore methods to control water resources, conserve water quality, solve pollution and limit the negative impact of pollution on people and the environment. 


Graduating from these courses opens diverse career opportunities, including obtaining industry experience. The Master's program also offers opportunities for innovative research, career progression, salary hike, and promotions.


Australia is the home to globally recognised and prestigious universities that offer a great student environment inside and outside classrooms. 


Flinders University is a global leader in groundwater hydrology research and education. It ranked 13th in the Academic Ranking of World Universities for its water resources research in 2019.


By studying hydrology in Australia, you can explore a famous country for its warm climate, beautiful beaches, the Great Outback, and numerous national parks.


Most Australian universities offer internships and work placements to students to help them prepare for the job market.


Some of the most recommended hydrology courses to study in Australia are:


  • Bachelor of Science (Hydrology) – Flinders University

  • Bachelor of Science (Soil Science and Hydrology) – The University of Sydney

  • Bachelor of Environment Science – University of Western Australia

  • Bachelor of Environment Science – The University of South Australia

  • Master of Hydrogeology - University of Western Australia 

  • Groundwater Hydrology (Postgraduate Diploma) – Flinder's University

  • Master of Geoscience – The University of Melbourne

  • Master of Engineering (Environmental Engineering)- RMIT University

  • Master of Environmental Engineering – The University of Melbourne



7. How Long Does It Take To Become A Hydrologist?


It takes at least three years of a bachelor's degree in hydrology or a related science program to become and work as a trainee. 


Some graduates consider gaining experience as technicians or research assistants in a lab before entering the job market.



8. Working Conditions For A Hydrologist


The work environment of hydrologists varies based on the industry they work. They typically work in offices, classrooms, laboratories, and the field.


The fieldwork involves operating boats, wading or swimming in water bodies to collect samples, checking monitoring equipment, and hiking to remote locations while lifting heavy equipment. 


Bad weather or strong currents may make the job difficult. Travel may be required to visit research locations. 


When not conducting fieldwork, hydrologists spend time in a laboratory or an office to evaluate their research conclusions and perform data modelling on computer software. 


They liaise with other professionals about water issues, including local authorities, engineers, and scientists. Most hydrologists work full-time. They may work overtime and in shifts when working in the fields.



9. Specialisations For Hydrologists In Australia


Hydrologists play an integral role in solving water-related problems, including environmental preservation and water management.


After gaining qualifications and experience, you can consider specialising in a specific aspect of a water source or the water cycle, such as marine hydrology, surface water, and underground water.


They can also specialise in physical geography, civil engineering, environmental engineering, and earth or environmental science.



10. Employment Opportunities For Hydrologists In Australia


Recruiters hire candidates for various hydrologist jobs in Australia:



Public Sector Organisations


Utility companies and public authorities that provide sewage systems and water supplies require hydrologists to plan and execute various environmental programs.


CSIRO, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, the Department of Planning, land care groups, and chemical companies.



Research and Academics


Many universities and public and private training institutions require hydrologists to work as researchers and lecturers.



Private Sector Organisations


Environmental Consultancy firms and other corporate sectors need hydrologists to provide insights into the management of the environment and civil engineering.



Environmental NGOs


World organisations and global institutions also hire hydrologists to understand a wide range of natural accidents and provide emergency relief.



Multimedia Channels


Environment-related channels dealing with the climate, such as Discovery, Geographic, and News channels, also hire hydrologists to predict environmental issues.


Other industries include Statutory Authorities, the Mining Industry, Construction Agencies, and Consulting firms in Hydrology, Environmental Engineering, and Environmental Science.



11. What Jobs Include Hydrologists?


There are various hydrologist jobs available in Australia:



  • Environmental Scientists: (Average Salary: AU67,442) Discover pollution levels and identify measures to curb environmental pollution.


  • Geoscientists: (Average Salary: AU 98,213) Analyse rock formation to determine the past of the earth's evolution and explore oil locations in varying geographical areas.


  • Environmental Engineer: (Average Salary: 72,996) Provide measures to solve water issues, including contamination, pollution, and ways to improve groundwater levels.




12. Job Prospects For Hydrologists In Australia


The increase in human activities is causing more impact on the environment resulting in environmental concerns such as global climate change, rise in seawater levels, and water availability issues. 


This situation leads to a greater need to assess water management and other natural resources. Additionally, the growing need for mining, coal, gas extraction, and construction, is also resulting in a demand for the services of hydrologists. 


The public and private sectors will likely create job opportunities for hydrologists in Australia when realising these growing concerns.


According to the National Job Outlook service, it is an emerging occupation, and the employment of hydrologists is to grow about as quickly as the average for all occupations. 


Also, due to the increasing water concerns on a global level, the career prospects of hydrologists are quite promising both in and outside Australia. The high demand, overseas career opportunities, and greater scope for career development make it a desirable career option for many students. 


Hydrologists work in several regions of Australia, particularly Western Australia, with the largest share of workers.


Around 82% of workers work full-time, which shows low part-time work opportunities. Only 27% of workers are female, and the average age of workers employed is 40 years.



13. How Much Does A Hydrologist Earn In Australia?


The hydrologist's salary in Australia depends on location, experience, education, industry, employer, assignment, and position. The average hydrologist salary for a Hydrologist is AU$81,350.


Here is what you can expect to earn as a hydrologist at different experience levels:


  • Early career Hydrologists (1 to 4 years of experience) earn AU$65,000 

  • Mid-career Hydrologists (5 to 9 years of experience) earn AU$92,336 

  • Experienced Hydrologists (10 to 19 years of experience) earn AU$114,783 



14. Conclusion


With the rising awareness of climate change and the initiative to preserve natural resources, 'green jobs' have become immensely popular and prominent.


Working as a Hydrologist is ideal for those motivated to create a sustainable future that combines engineering science with environmental needs. 


We hope the blog has given you a glimpse of your professional journey to become a Hydrologist.


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