Product has been added to the basket

Careers in Hydrogeology

The Professional Hydrogeologist

The professional hydrogeologist is in demand by employers, by consultants, by clients, by universities, and by insurers. But what constitutes a professional hydrogeologist? How do they know they have got the right person?

In addition to C. Geol. status, professional hydrogeologists will normally have academic training, to Masters degree in hydrogeology or a closely related discipline, or they may have a Doctorate in hydrogeological research. They will offer experience encompassing a range of hydrogeological skills concerning a variety of hydrogeological perspectives and will have a proven track record in demonstrating technical competence. Careful scrutiny of the curriculum vitae should help to identify professionalism.


Details of hydrogeological training courses accredited for CPD by the Geological Society and courses in hydrogeology run by various UK universities are provided on the Hydrogeology Group links page.


See the GSL careers page for more information on careers for geologists. Some of the younger members of the group have written short explanations of why they are interested in hydrogeology and how they entered the career. Read further details about three of the younger members careers.

Most hydrogeologists find careers in the following areas:
  • Environmental Regulation;
  • Consultancy;
  • The water industry;
  • The waste management industry;
  • The land development industry;
  • The mineral extraction industry;
  • Academia;
  • Nature conservation.
See the external links page for details of other organisations employing hydrogeologists.

The remainder of this page contains a discussion of the importance of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for hydrogeologists.

CPD - The issue

The hydrogeological profession has attained a high public profile in recent years in parallel with enhanced public perception of environmental matters. Water scarcity, including the 1990s UK droughts, environmental impact assessment, the radioactive waste disposal debate, and coalfield abandonment, have all brought hydrogeological science to the attention of the public.

At the same time there is lack of a clear definition of what constitutes a professional hydrogeologist amongst some employers, within parts of the legal and insurance professions and by the public. The objective of this pamphlet is for the Geological Society to clarify the position and to offer guidance, not least with regard to the question of professional liability. How does the client know the job will be done by the right person? How does the employer decide on who to employ?

The Chartered Geologist

All professional hydrogeologists should be Chartered Geologists. Just like any other professional, geologists may put themselves forward for scrutiny to attain chartered status. They need to do this in order that they may be identified as a professional geologists.

A formal review and validation procedure has been put in place by the Geological Society. The process assesses member's understanding of professionalism as well as their education, training and experience. There are a number of different routes to validation. All require the candidate to be a Fellow of the Geological Society, with at least five years relevant post-graduate experience after a geological degree, ranging through seven and ten years experience for other subjects which must contain at least 25% geology/earth science course content. With less than 15 years work experience the candidate would normally submit an audited professional report, professional documents, such as reports and technical papers, and wherever possible a log book or work diary. Candidates are normally required to attend a professional interview and may also be required to sit a written examination.

The whole process of validation is fully documented and recorded. Attainment of chartered status obliges individuals to work within their own sphere of competence and to follow a code of professional conduct that safeguards both the interests of the client and the community as a whole. This has important implications with regards professional liability. It also prevents scientists or engineers from one discipline working with neither adequate training nor adequate experience in another discipline.

The very first question that an expert witness is asked at any public inquiry is "are you a chartered professional?" If the answer is "yes" he starts his presentation with equal credibility to the Chartered Civil Engineer. The most important decisions that have to be made every day by hydrogeologists should be made by professionals with chartered status.