Hydrogeologists study water sources.
Hydrogeology is the study of groundwater and how it flows through soil, rocks and the earth. A hydrogeologist is a professional who determines whether groundwater is safe and available for use. The work includes studying and inspecting water sources such as wells and water sanitation facilities, overseeing the cleanup of contaminated water supplies and assisting in finding new, safe water supplies.
Jobs for hydrogeologists require at least a bachelor’s degree, but some employers require a master’s degree. Salaries increase with advanced degrees. Payscale reports that hydrogeologists with a bachelor’s degree in geology earned average salaries ranging from $42,000 to $67,000 per year, as of 2010, while a master’s degree in geology provided average salaries ranging from $54,912 to $85,000 per year. Many states offer a licensing exam for hydrogeologists to receive a professional geologist license. Average salaries with the professional geologist credential ranged from $53,725 to $106,500 per year.
Hydrogeologists may earn a base salary plus bonuses and profit sharing. As of November 2010, Payscale reports the average base salary ranges from $48,792 to $74,368 per year. Average bonuses ranged from $1,006 to $5,028 per year, and average profit sharing payments ranged from $989 to $3,250 per year. The total compensation ranged from $47,746 to $75,195 per year.
Hydrogeologists work for state and local governments, as well as environmental, engineering, science and water conservation organizations. Payscale reports the highest wages in the water conservation and management industry, where hydrogeologists earned average salaries ranging from $50,165 to $74,276 per year. The environmental consulting industry paid average salaries ranging from $46,007 to $67,225 per year, while the science and engineering services industry paid average salaries ranging from $48,984 to $73,923 per year.
Like many professionals, hydrogeologists increase their salaries as they gain professional experience. Those with one to four years of experience earned average salaries ranging from $40,626 to $53,194 per year as of 2010. Those with five to nine years of experience earned average salaries ranging from $50,000 to $66,112 per year, and those with over 10 years of experience earned average salaries ranging from $59,284 up to $106,496 per year for 20 or more years of experience.