To become a hydrogeologist, it is necessary to obtain a degree in hydrogeology or a related field, with a master's degree preferred by most employers. Hydrogeologists study the movement of water under the surface of the earth through various geological deposits, in contrast with hydrologists, who focus on surface water. They can work for government agencies, private firms, nonprofit organizations, and research facilities. Employment prospects in this sector are often good, due to the ongoing demand for water.
A high school student who knows he wants to become a hydrogeologist can get a head start on the work. Math and science classes are critical, especially electives in fields like geology. If a local college or university accepts high school students by arrangement, it may be possible to take some more advanced classes to prepare. Students might also want to think about covering prerequisites for graduation like general education classes. It may be possible to test out of those classes or to take them in advance to focus on a hydrogeology education in college.
At the undergraduate level, a student who wants to work as a hydrogeologist should ideally pursue a degree in this subject, although study in hydrology and geology alone can also be helpful. If a school does not offer a hydrogeology degree, the student may be able to take a mix of classes that will prepare her for work. It is also advisable to seek out internships and research opportunities to start developing professional skills and connections.
Some jobs are open to people who hold a bachelor's degree, but employment prospects may be better for a hydrogeologist with a master's degree. To become a hydrogeologist with a government agency or educational institution, a master's degree is necessary, and a PhD may be required as well. In a graduate program, students will have an opportunity to conduct research in an area of interest, and they can also attend conferences and other events to keep up with progress in their field.
After graduation, a person who has become a hydrogeologist may want to consider membership in a professional organization. This provides access to scholarly journals, trade publications, conferences, and professional connections. Membership in such organizations can also sometimes be helpful with job applications. People with extra credentials may be viewed as more qualified for a job, especially if they have publication credits and other work to underscore their commitment to ongoing research and development in the field.