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Hydrologists study the occurrence, distribution, circulation and properties of water in the atmosphere, on the Earth's surface, and in soil and underlying rocks.

  • Avg. Salary $139,071.00
  • Avg. Wage $69.53
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 3,900
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Physical Scientist, Research Scientist, Water Scientist, Resources Engineer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists (2113) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists (C013) 
  • 2011 NOC: Geoscientists and oceanographers (2113) 
  • 2016 NOC: Geoscientists and oceanographers (2113) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Hydrologist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Geologists, Geochemists and Geophysicists

Interest in synthesizing information to plan and direct field studies, drilling and testing programs, and seismic, electromagnetic, magnetic, gravimetric, radiometric, radar and other remote sensing programs to extend knowledge of the earth; in assessing deposits and geological age; and in determining characteristics and suitability of materials for use as concrete aggregates, road fill and other applications


Interest in precision working with instruments to identify deposits of construction materials; and in participating in remote sensing programs and in analyses of core samples, drill cuttings and rock samples to identify chemical, mineral, hydrocarbon and biological composition


Interest in consulting to recommend the acquisition of lands, exploration and mapping programs, and mine development; and in advising in areas such as waste management, route and site selection and the restoration of contaminated sites; may supervise and co-ordinate well drilling, completion and workovers, and mining activities

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 14, 2016

Duties and responsibilities vary from one position to another. Hydrologists often specialize in particular water-related fields but, in general, they:

  • apply scientific knowledge, mathematical and physical principles to solve water-related problems
  • study the flow, evaporation, infiltration and storage of water in rivers, lakes and wetlands
  • study the surface water in glaciers, snowpacks and ice sheets as snow or ice and in rocks and soils as soil moisture and subsurface flow
  • study the transport and fate of dissolved and suspended matters in water
  • study short-term and long-term effects of climate change and climate variability on the outlook of water supply, flow and storage
  • conduct risk analyses for climatic extremes such as floods and droughts
  • develop integrated water and drainage management plans for river basins 
  • assess the feasibility of developing hydroelectric power plants, irrigation systems and water supplies
  • assist in minimizing the environmental impacts of pollution, water-borne diseases, erosion and sedimentation
  • study public and industrial water supply, water quality, wastewater, water base and recreation requirements, and their impacts on the habitats of fish and wildlife 
  • conduct environmental impact assessments of resource projects and study the effects of natural disturbances (for example, wildfire, mountain pine beetle) on water quantity, water quality and aquatic ecology
  • gather geographic information system (GIS), remote sensing and other data, perform statistical analyses and develop hydrologic models
  • prepare technical reports
  • co-ordinate and supervise the work of technologists and technicians.

Hydrogeologists specialize in studying groundwater.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Hydrologists may work alone as well as with a team of professionals, technologists or technicians. They may work primarily indoors in an office environment or outdoors conducting field investigations. Hours of work can be long and field work may involve being away from home for weeks at a time while working in remote and rugged terrain in adverse conditions. Lifting up to 20 kilograms routinely may be required.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Hydrologists need the following characteristics:

  • analytical ability and critical thinking skills 
  • problem solving skills
  • imagination and creativity 
  • excellent oral communication skills
  • the ability to write clear and informative engineering reports
  • the ability to work independently and as part of a team.

They should enjoy co-ordinating information and developing innovative approaches to problems, using instruments and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision, consulting with people and working outdoors.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

The minimum education requirement is a four year bachelor's degree in a discipline that has a strong hydrology component such as geography, civil engineering, environmental science, earth sciences, agriculture or forestry. A master's degree is required for some positions. Before enrolling in a bachelor's degree program, prospective hydrologists should discuss their education options with people currently working in the field.

Hydrologists who provide design input for water management infrastructure projects (for example, dams, canals, stormwater management, pipeline or bridge crossings) must have an engineering degree and Professional Engineer status.

Hydrologists who provide geological input must have a degree in geology and Professional Geologist status.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Concordia University of Edmonton

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Hydrologists are employed by:

  • natural resource companies
  • civil engineering, environmental and forestry consulting firms
  • municipal, provincial and federal government departments.

Experienced hydrologists may work with Canadian consulting firms overseas or advance to water resource management positions.

Hydrologists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2113: Geologists, geochemists and geophysicists. In Alberta, 89% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 2,200 Albertans are employed in the Geologists, geochemists and geophysicists occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.9% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 20 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. Note: As hydrologists form only a part of this larger occupational group, only some of these newly created positions will be for hydrologists.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Hydrologists' salaries vary considerably depending on their qualifications and the responsibilities of the position.

Geoscientists and oceanographers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $23.56 $69.60 $46.99 $45.64
Overall $25.40 $97.36 $69.53 $69.60
Top $30.90 $155.85 $91.51 $95.64

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction
Public Administration
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Feb 01, 2012. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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