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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

Hydrogeologist, Physical Geographer, Physical Scientist, Research Scientist, Surface Water Scientist, Water Resources Engineer, Water Scientist, Watershed Scientist

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 Mar 03, 2021

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 amounts and timing of river flow, precipitation, evaporation, infiltration; and storage of water in rivers, lakes, wetlands and other water bodies
  • Study flow and storage of groundwater in aquifers
  • Study glaciers, snowpacks and ice sheets, whether as snow or ice
  • Study the way soil moisture and subsurface water in rocks and soils interact with groundwater systems
  • Study the transport, travel time and fate of dissolved and suspended matters in water
  • Help to limit the environmental impacts of land-use change, erosion, sedimentation, pollution and water-borne diseases
  • Study the short-term and long-term effects of climate change and weather variability on the outlook of water supply, flow and storage
  • Conduct risk analyses for hydrological extremes such as floods and droughts
  • Develop integrated water and drainage management plans for river basins, often as part of technical or planning cross-disciplinary teams
  • Assess whether to develop hydroelectric power plants, irrigation systems and other systems for using or supplying water
  • Study public and industrial surface and groundwater supply, water quality, wastewater, in-stream flows and recreation requirements to learn how fish and wildlife habitats are impacted
  • Conduct environmental impact assessments of resource projects
  • Study the effects that natural disturbances, such as wildfires or mountain pine beetle, have on water quantity and quality, as well as aquatic ecology
  • Gather stream flow, water level, climate, geographic information system (GIS), remote sensing and other data
  • Analyse data and develop hydrologic models
  • Delineate drainage boundaries using topographic data and other information to define the extents of catchments, watersheds and river basins
  • Prepare technical reports and presentations
  • Coordinate and supervise the work of technologists and technicians

Hydrogeologists are hydrologists who specialize in studying groundwater.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 03, 2021

Hydrologists may work alone or 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 are typical of other professionals in office-based roles but can be long if fieldwork is a regular duty. Fieldwork may involve being away from home for days or weeks. It may also involve working in remote and rugged terrain in adverse conditions. Lifting up to 20 kilograms may be required in fieldwork.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 03, 2021

Hydrologists need:

  • Imagination and creativity
  • Analytical ability and critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Oral communication skills
  • An ability to write clear and informative engineering reports
  • An ability to work alone and as a team

They should enjoy:

  • Preparing, reviewing and analyzing data
  • Coordinating information
  • Developing innovative approaches to problems
  • Using instruments and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision
  • Consulting with people
  • Working outdoors
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 03, 2021

The minimum education requirement is a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a discipline with a strong hydrology component. This might include 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, storm water 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 Geoscientist 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 Mar 03, 2021

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, hydrologists who provide project design input are subject to regulations for engineers. Similarly, those who provide geological input are subject to regulations for geoscientists.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 03, 2021

Hydrologists are employed by:

  • Natural resource companies
  • Civil engineering, environmental and forestry consulting firms
  • 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 [pdf] 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 2113: Geoscientists and oceanographers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.4% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 59 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 03, 2021

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 Mar 03, 2021

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

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

Updated Mar 03, 2021. 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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