Hydrogeologists study the earth’s natural liquids.
Hydrogeologists study the interaction between the earth and liquids, particularly natural liquids like petroleum and water. They understand how fluids like these move above, through and underneath the earth, and can find employment either with the government, private industry or teaching in a university. Before a hydrogeologist can do any of that, though, he needs the proper education — and the degree he must pursue depends upon his career goals.
A bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for you to find a job, but not necessarily the one that you want. In this field, a B.A. gets you little more than an entry-level position, meaning that instead of working independently to analyze research, write reports and present findings to an employer, you may perform simple work like collecting data and taking orders in the field from a senior hydrogeologist.
Most hydrogeologists have a master’s degree. This is the most typical educational requirement for hydrogeologists working outside academia. Those working for private industry, geological surveys and federal agencies, for example, almost always need to have a master’s. While some schools offer master’s programs specifically in hydrogeology, others offer it only as a concentration within a geoscience or environmental science program.
If you want to teach hydrogeology, you typically need a doctorate. A Ph.D. qualifies you to teach at a college level, and since hydrogeology is such a specialized field, you can generally only find opportunities to teach it at that level. Planning a teaching career or pursuing a high-level research position are typically the only instances in which you need a Ph.D. in this field. If you aren’t interested in either of these, a master’s is sufficient.
Areas of Interest
Hydrogeology is an applied science that requires a strong working knowledge of the instruments used to collect, organize and analyze data. Strong computer skills are required, including the use of computer modeling programs, data analysis, digital mapping and geographic information systems (GIS). You learn to use these and other programs while completing a master’s program, which is one of the reasons why this degree is so vital to finding a career in hydrogeology.