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What's the Difference Between a Geohydrologist and a Hydrogeologist?

By choosing a career in hydrogeology, also called geohydrology, you can make a contribution to the conservation of one of the Earth's precious resources - water. With either title, you'll be a type of hydrologist, and your future career will likely be tied to the effects of human activity and climate change on water.

Geohydrologist and Hydrogeologist Defined

All hydrologists study the movement, action, and effects - called fluid dynamics - of water. Hydrogeology and the less common term geohydrology can be used interchangeably, since they both refer to the study of water that is at or below the earth's surface. Your path to this career could include getting a Bachelor's Degree (BS), Master's Degree (MS), or a Doctor in Philosophy (PhD) in a field such as geology, earth science, or environmental science.

Important Facts About Hydrologists, Including Hydrogeologists

Important Qualities Analytical skills, physical stamina, communication skills, critical thinking
Work Environment Office setting for data modeling and analysis; field work, including wading in lakes and streams, to check equipment and collect specimens. Travelling is common.
Common Employers Federal, state, and local governments; scientific consulting services, architectural, and engineering services
Similar Occupations Atmospheric scientist, environmental engineer, geoscientist, landscape architect, conservation scientist, surveyor

Bachelor's Degrees in Geology and Related Fields

Many colleges and universities offer various types of geology degree programs that typically offer courses in hydrology, fluid dynamics and hydrogeology. These courses are taught in geology departments that may offer either a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Earth Sciences. If you choose the B.S. program, you may take more courses in Math, Physics and/or Chemistry than those in B.A. programs do.

To become a hydrogeologist, you might also consider earning a BS in Environmental Sciences or a BS in Environmental Engineering focusing on geology. Some programs also offer courses in fluid dynamics.

Master's Degrees in Hydrogeology

If you study for a Master of Science (M.S.) in Hydrogeology, you may focus on several issues related to the conservation of groundwater, including studies in the areas of sedimentology, geostatistics, and geochemistry. In a hydrology master's program, you may be able to opt for a specific concentration in hydrogeology.

Doctoral Degrees in Hydrogeology

Doctoral programs in hydrogeology train engineers and scientists interested in groundwater and related issues. Methods to monitor quality, control contaminants, and evaluate available resources concerning water are taught. Special topics can include issues such as wetland conservation and methods of analyzing and modeling water flow.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hydrologists in general were expected to see average job prospects during the period of 2016-2026 and job openings increasing by 10% (www.bls.gov). As of May 2018, the average annual wages for hydrologists in general were $79,370.