What Is Hydraulics Engineering?

As a hydraulics engineer, you can play a vital role in the design and functionality of bridges, dams, levees and canals. Keep reading to learn more about this engineering discipline. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Hydraulics Engineering Definition

Hydraulics engineering is a field within the civil engineering discipline that addresses the control and management of water resources. As a hydraulics engineer, you'll plan and manage the flow and storage of water. You may find yourself brainstorming solutions to address future water demands for cities or planning river and coastal flood control projects.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Similar Occupations Mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, biomedical engineer
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 20% growth (for civil engineers)
Key Skills Math, organizational, leadership, and decision-making skills
Professional Certification Hydraulic Specialist Certification is available through organizations such as the Fluid Power Society

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bachelor's Degree in Hydraulic Engineering

To work as a hydraulic engineer, you'll need to complete a bachelor's degree. Many schools offer hydraulics engineering as a concentration or track within a general or civil engineering undergraduate degree program. In addition to gaining a solid foundation in engineering, you'll learn about the concepts of hydraulic engineering through elective coursework. These courses may include fluid mechanics, hydrology and storm water management, hydraulic design and water quality controls.

Master's Degree in Hydraulic Engineering

There are many graduate degree programs available if you want an advanced education in this field. Master's degree programs in hydraulic engineering incorporate classroom instruction with research opportunities. These programs take at least two years to complete, and a thesis is typically required. Graduate-level coursework in hydraulic engineering may include:

  • Surface hydrology
  • Hydraulic analysis
  • Environmental fluid mechanics
  • Groundwater flow
  • Sediment transport
  • Open-channel hydraulics
  • Hydraulic modeling
  • Municipal water systems

Ph.D. in Hydraulics Engineering

As a doctoral student, you may customize your studies to a specific area of interest within hydraulic engineering, with faculty advisor approval. You'll need to conduct extensive research and study in your field, and you will be required to successfully defend your work during your dissertation before a panel of faculty. Your coursework may include:

  • River mechanics
  • Watershed hydrology
  • Large-scale hydrology
  • Coastal hydrodynamics
  • Irrigation design

Employment and Salary Information

As a hydraulic engineer you'll find employment opportunities in various industries, including manufacturing and distribution, water conservation, engineering design or engineering consulting. Government agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are a major employer of civil and hydraulic engineers.

Depending on your education level, you may find positions in teaching and hydraulic engineering research. According to PayScale.com, the median salary for hydraulic engineers was $65,507 in September 2015.


All states and the District of Columbia require that civil engineers, including hydraulic engineers, be licensed if they sell their services publicly. Regulations vary by state, but licensing generally requires graduating from an accredited program, passing several exams and gaining experience in the field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools