What to Expect
Flushing the toilet, irrigating a garden, rainfall and the Grand Canyon
all have one important thing in common: water. Water resources programs teach
students about how and why rivers flow, have droughts or floods. Students
become aware of water in the sky, on the earth's surface and underground.
Water is essential to the survival of all living things, including humans.
Providing water for communities has come a long way from historical times
when rainwater was saved in barrels and on rooftops. Therefore, in water resources
programs, students also learn about the sophisticated ways to bring water
"Without the education gained through the water resources program I would
be unable to perform the work I am currently doing. I was able to find a position
in my field within a month of completing the course," says David Milliken.
He graduated from a water resources engineering technology program and works
as a water technologist with a municipal government. His studies gave him
practical experience in addition to theory.
He also had an eight-month, paid work term arranged through his program.
"This experience aided me in obtaining employment after graduation. We also
had a great deal of lab time during our time at school. This enabled us to
become familiar with the different types of equipment and practices we would
encounter after graduation," says Milliken.
Kimberly Krause is a part-time graduate student. She is concentrating her
studies in water resources and alternative energy at the University of Texas
at Austin. She wants to work for a nonprofit organization researching alternative
energy and water resources issues. Students entering a water resources program
at the graduate level may need to refresh their knowledge in certain subject
"For example, if your background is in business, but you are going to be
taking a water resources course, you might want to take a geology course or
environmental chemistry course first," says Krause.
Graduate students can expect a significant workload. There will be research
papers and projects, homework for classes, and a great deal of reading. You
may need to do self-directed research to get to know the subject matter.
"Homework difficulty and workload depends on the particular professor,
but expect to spend up to 10 hours on assignments per course. That does not
include time for research papers and projects," says Krause.
The workload is significant for students in college diploma programs too:
"There is a lot of material to cover and not much time in which to cover it.
Time management skills become very important," says Milliken. He spent two
or three hours doing homework on school nights and double that on the weekends.
Textbooks are an additional expense for students. "I buy all of my textbooks
to have as reference later on in my career," says Krause. She suggests saving
money by using computer labs on campus instead of buying a laptop.
"If you don't mind used books, they are cheaper and usually readily available
from previous students," says Milliken.
How to Prepare
"If a high school student is interested in this course, he or she should
take physics as well as all math classes. These are the two fundamental principles
that are used in the majority of classes," says Milliken.
Krause recommends earth science courses, physics, business courses, calculus,
and world geography. "Computer skills and good writing skills are mandatory
In addition to your schoolwork, international travel, social or environmental
volunteering, and keeping up with current events will help prepare you for
water resource programs and employment.