Whether you're pouring yourself a glass of water to drink or swimming in
a river, you are in contact with water every day. Students studying water
resources learn about preserving, managing and distributing water.
"You never have to look too long or hard to find a water resources issue
which deserves our further thought," says Art Skibinsky. He is an instructor
of water resources engineering technology at an institute of applied science
and technology. It offers a five-semester diploma program.
Two-year diploma programs are available in water resources technology.
These programs often have work terms and hands-on learning opportunities.
There are options for students interested in research and classroom study.
Degrees in hydrology, water resources engineering, and energy and earth
resources programs are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate
Students studying at the graduate and post-graduate levels take multi-disciplinary
courses. Law, policy, finance, economics, engineering and geology could all
be on the schedule.
"You realize how precious water is not only in our homes, but for recreation,
flood control and maintaining our environment," says Jessica Smith, graduate
coordinator of the Energy and Earth Resources program at the University of
Texas at Austin.
Students taking a diploma program also have diverse studies. Finding water
(supply problems); water treatment; flood and drought problems; moving water
(hydraulics); consuming water (municipal infrastructure); and conserving water
(environmental studies) are all important water resources issues and are covered
in the program.
"Environmental problems related to natural resources form an important
part of this program," says Smith.
"Related fields of biology and ecology may also be included. All are experiencing
increased demand, particularly in the private sector," adds Skibinsky.
So how can you decide which type of program is right for you? There are
many things to consider.
Technology programs are shorter. You could be working in the field by the
time a water resources engineer is half-way though school, for example.
Basically, graduates of different-level programs will be preparing for
different jobs in the same sector. Generally speaking, technologists are often
the people doing the hands-on work; those with higher levels of education
are often managing and planning projects.
"Please keep in mind there are plenty of jobs out there, regardless of
your [degree] selection. Make sure that when looking to the future, you are
looking for a career versus simply a job," says Skibinsky.
Work in geosciences offers global opportunities for travel and work experience.
For example, graduates of energy and earth resources programs begin careers
in resource management or planning, commodity analysis, risk analysis, feasibility
studies, education, research, and environmental issues.
"They meet a growing need in both the private sector and government for
professionals who can plan, evaluate and manage complex resource projects,"
The location of a school becomes more important to students who are interested
in a particular aspect of water research.
"Central Texas is referred to as Flash Flood Alley by many scientists due
to our unique geography and climate. Students interested in flood control
would find a wealth of possibilities in Austin," says Smith.
"Regardless of the institution or the program you might select, I strongly
recommend that you do a little research on staff, program accreditation, and
student and employment surveys before making your choices. It's a big field
out there," says Skibinsky.
In high school, prepare for this field by taking advanced math, chemistry,
geology, ecology and geography.
"Leadership and discipline are keys to a successful academic career,"
Skibinsky recommends that students get closer to nature with outdoor activities.
"Even if it's as simple as experiencing nature in activities [like] hiking,
working around water, outdoor education -- there are ample opportunities to
see water resources engineering at work."
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Water
and Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators
Water Science for Schools
Information and activities about water for kids
Environmental Kids Club: Water
Links to activities and resources