How Water Can Pay Your Bills: UGA Prepares for Careers in Water Resources

This blog was written by WCO intern, Emily Swift.

For many, protecting the environment is a passion that is incorporated into day-to-day life. But what if this passion of yours could be turned into more than just the habits and choices you make every day? By enrolling in one of the various water,sustainability, or natural resource related programs at UGA, your love for the environment could blossom into a flourishing career filled with countless opportunities, numerous paths to pursue, and of course the opportunity to succeed and make a living.

Environmental jobs are on the rise as America, and the developed world as a whole, are becoming more environmentally aware;  citizens are being provided with more and more opportunities to make “green” decisions every day. Specifically, there are a wide variety of careers in the field of water resources, which all show promising futures as water resource issues are becoming vastly important economically, ecologically, and socially.

UGA’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Odum School of Ecology, Office of Sustainability, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, College of Engineering, and several others all offer superb programs that can prepare you for a future in this field. Check out the following careers in water resources and see if any might be of interest to you or someone you know!

  1. Water Resource Engineer: If you’re looking to make big bucks, with average salaries around the country ranging from about $65-$95,000 a year, then this is the career for you! They are responsible for creating efficient systems that provide citizens with clean water. Some engineers have the opportunity to work abroad on large engineering products, especially in developing countries. Senior engineer in hardhat standing on waste water treatment unit
  2. Water Conservation Specialist: (aka what our very own Marilyn and Laurie do!) If you are looking to be an expert in water conservation and how to efficiently use water, then consider becoming a water conservation specialist! Much of what their jobs entail include creating programs and events for local schools and businesses. They also engage with the community through additional outreach efforts, such as putting on special workshops or tours of water facilities. By collecting, interpreting, and analyzing water use data, Water Conservation Specialists have the power to influence citizens to adopt water-wise behaviors and increase awareness about water conservation throughout the community.
  3. Water Resource Manager: The goal of a water resource manager is to optimize water use and minimize its environmental impact; managers must make use of their extensive knowledge in both economics and environmental issues in order to accomplish this daunting task. Water management opportunities exist in both agriculture and urban settings.
  4. Water Rights Lawyer: Water resource law is becoming huge out west and around the ACF Basin as water rights issues continue to create major tension among states and citizens. These lawyers help clients legally gain, defend, challenge, and transfer water rights, as well as impose and enforce local/regional water resource law.Allegory of  justice
  5. Hydrologist: If you love science and having the opportunity to be out in the field, a career in hydrology may be of interest to you. Hydrologists typically work for government agencies to solve water related problems by collecting, interpreting, and analyzing data, testing water quality, and using computer program technologies to create models explaining their findings.hydrologist.jpg

As a final note, being a Georgia Dawg myself, I am biased towards the amazing academic programs that UGA offers to prepare you for a career in water resources. If you have any interest at all in pursuing a career in this rewarding field, some great programs to check out include undergraduate certificates in Water Resources, Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering, and Sustainability; minors in Ecology, Environmental Soil Science, and Environmental Law; majors in Crop and Soil Sciences, Environmental Engineering, and Water and Soil Resources; as well as Master’s and PhD programs in Natural Resources, Sustainable Development and Conservation Ecology, and Geology. Good Luck!




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