National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Hydrologist Kate Abshire,
Analyze, Forecast & Support Office

Hydrologist in Charge Crane Johnson, Alaska-Pacific RFC

Careers in Hydrology

What is a Hydrologist?

Hydrology is the scientific study of Earth’s water. Hydrologists study the occurrence, circulation, distribution, and properties of the waters of the Earth and atmosphere.

What Does a Hydrologist Do?

The job duties of NWS hydrologists vary depending on office, region, and time of year. Much of their work involves analyzing large amounts of data, such as precipitation amounts and river gauge measurements, to model and predict flooding. Hydrologists also collect data; provide guidance to other federal, state, and local agencies about flooding events; conduct research; and develop methods for integrating new science and technology into the forecast process.

  • The position description for a typical Senior Service Duty Hydrologist job can be found here.

Work Environment

The NWS employs about 300 hydrologists, who work alongside meteorologists to analyze, study, and predict river levels and flooding events. Most Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) have a Service Duty Hydrologist on staff and many other hydrologists staff the NWS's 13 River Forecast Centers (RFCs). NWS hydrologists often conduct fieldwork to collect data and install or service river gauges and equipment. Shift work is occasionally required and can include nights, weekends, and holidays.

Education and Experience Requirements

Hydrologists in the NWS come from diverse backgrounds in the earth sciences and engineering. Federally employed hydrologists must have at least a Bachelor's degree that included 30 semester hours in any combination of physical sciences or engineering. Coursework must have included at least six semester hours in calculus and at least six semester hours in physics.

  • The full list of education requirements for the federal hydrology job series can be found here.

Faces of the NWS: Hydrology

Kate Abshire
Analyze, Forecast & Support Office (AFSO)

Bekki Harjo
Senior Hydrologist
Arkansas-Red Basin RFC

Crane Johnson
Hydrologist in Charge
Alaska-Pacific RFC

Kevin Kodama
Senior Service Hydrologist Honolulu, HI WFO

Kris Lander
Development and Operations
West Gulf RFC

Alaina MacFarlane
Senior Hydrologist
Middle Atlantic RFC

Juliann Meyer
Senior Hydrologist
Missouri Basin RFC

Edward Plumb
Senior Service Hydrologist
NWS WFO Fairbanks Alaska

Charles Ross
Senior Service Hydrologist
State College, PA WFO