Hydrologists are professionals who study water distribution and composition. They study the movement of water across and through the earth’s crust. Starting a career as a hydrologist will give you the expertise to access and manage water resources. Additionally, you will have the knowledge and skills to address challenges related to water availability. As a hydrologist, you can work in places such as treatment plants and engineering firms. This career path is a very crucial one in every society because you will be instrumental in making informed decisions for sustainable water management. Additionally, you will play a crucial role in addressing evolving environmental challenges.


In this piece, I will walk you through the steps to take when pursuing a career as a hydrologist.


How to Start a Career as a Hydrologist

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s degree

    This is the first step to take when pursuing a career as a hydrologist. You can obtain a bachelor’s degree in hydrology to gain the required knowledge needed to work in this field. Additionally, you can also obtain a bachelor’s degree in disciplines such as geography and environmental science. This degree will provide a strong foundation in hydrology, water resources, geology, chemistry, and mathematics. Additionally, it will enable you to gain knowledge that will be relevant for you in graduate school.

  2. Gain Practical Experience

    You can gain practical experience through internships. These internships can allow you to have valuable hands-on experience in this field. Additionally, you will be exposed to the practical aspects of the theoretical knowledge that you gained in school.

  3. Pursue a Master’s Degree

    A master’s degree is important when pursuing a career as a hydrologist. This degree will give you advanced knowledge in hydrology and give you a deeper understanding of this field. Additionally, a master’s degree will allow you to select an area of specialisation and gain knowledge in it. You can obtain a master’s degree in hydrology or a related field.

  4. Gain Professional Skills

    You need to develop skills that are valuable for a hydrologist. You can develop skills such as modelling, geographic information specialist(GIS), remote sensing, data analysis and statistical analysis. Additionally, you should familiarise yourself with relevant software and technology that are commonly used in hydrological research and analysis.

  5. Obtain a Doctorate Degree

    A doctorate is required mostly if you are interested in research or teaching positions at universities. However, other areas of specialisation can also obtain a doctorate. This degree will offer highly advanced knowledge in hydrology. Additionally, it can enable you to have high earning potential as well as leadership positions in research.

  6. Publish Research

    You need to frequently do research and publish your findings as a hydrologist. This is a crucial step to take in advancing your career. This will demonstrate your expertise in the field. Additionally, it will contribute to the body of knowledge in the discipline. Therefore, you should publish your research in a peer-reviewed journal.

  7. Build Professional Networks

    It would help if you built a professional network to be efficient in this career. You can do this by joining professional associations and attending conferences. This can enable you to have access to collaboration, knowledge and growth opportunities. Additionally, it can give you access to mentors and peers in this career which can be valuable to your career growth.


Types of Hydrologists

  1. Surface Water Hydrologist

    Surface water hydrologists study rivers, streams, lakes, and other bodies of water that are above ground. They measure and analyse surface water flow rates, levels, and quality, as well as factors like precipitation, evaporation, and runoff.

  2. Water Quality Hydrologist

    Water quality hydrologists evaluate and track water’s biological, chemical, and physical properties. Additionally, they examine water samples for pollutants, contaminants, and other substances that could affect water quality.

  3. Ecohydrologists

    Ecohydrologists investigate the relationship between ecosystems and water. They look into the relationship between ecological systems and hydrological processes, as well as the availability of water.

  4. Groundwater hydrologists

    Groundwater hydrologists provide evaluations of groundwater sustainability, quality, and availability as well as insights into well-field design and groundwater management.

  5. Climate Change Hydrologists

    Climate change hydrologists help to assess vulnerabilities, create adaptation strategies, and mitigate the effects of climate change on water resources. Additionally, they look into how the climate affects hydrological systems and water availability through changes in precipitation patterns, snowmelt, sea level rise, and other factors.

  6. Hydrogeologists

    Hydrogeologists research the distribution and characteristics of groundwater as well as the flow and behaviour of water within geological formations. They are also involved in the development of sustainable water supply structures, the treatment of contaminated areas, and the evaluation of groundwater resources.


Universities in Africa that Offer Hydrology

  1. University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin
  2. Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  3. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  4. University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
  5. Suez Canal University, Egypt
  6. Alexandria University, Egypt
  7. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  8. University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  9. Mansoura University, Egypt
  10. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  11. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  12. Cairo University, Egypt
  13. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  14. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  15. University of the Free State, South Africa
  16. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  17. Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia
  18. Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  19. University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
  20. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  21. University of Ghana, Ghana
  22. Jimma University, Ethiopia
  23. University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  24. Makerere University, Uganda
  25. Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
  26. University of South Africa South Africa
  27. University of Botswana, Botswana
  28. Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco
  29. University of the Western Cape, South Africa
  30. Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
  31. Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa
  32. University of Sfax, Tunisia
  33. Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania
  34. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  35. Haramaya University, Ethiopia
  36. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya
  37. University of Zambia, Zambia
  38. University of Malawi, Malawi
  39. Kenyatta University, Kenya
  40. University for Development Studies, Ghana


Pursuing a career as a hydrologist requires patience and consistency as you might spend more years in making research while growing your career. You will be required to carry out your experiments and research on your own. You should brace up and develop the skills required as they will be beneficial to your career success.


Good luck!

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