Water covers approximately 70 percent of the Earth's surface, but only about three percent of the water is usable for daily living. Because of this, the water the planet does have has to be managed, used and conserved wisely. Water resources engineers plan, develop and manage water systems, ranging from natural waterways like lakes and streams to manmade systems of dams, pipes and sewers. Water resources engineers are responsible for ensuring water is clean, safe and available to the general population. In order to become a water resources engineer, you must pursue an education in the field and obtain the proper certifications.
Entry-level water resources engineering jobs require a minimum of four years of higher education in the field of engineering. In addition to engineering-specific courses, most programs require supplemental courses in mathematics, physical sciences and design. On top of general engineering courses, water resources engineers also pursue classes tailored toward the field, such as courses in wastewater engineering or water treatment. Graduate degrees to become a water resources engineer are available to increase salary and improve job prospects.
Certification is sometimes necessary to work as a water resources engineer. Not all jobs in water resources require certification or licensure. The requirements and accreditation needed vary from location to location, as well as from job to job. Civil water resources workers, such as a wastewater engineer working for a sewer department, typically need to have licensure of some form.
Upon obtaining education and the proper licensure to become a water resources engineer, it is then time to find a job within the field. Water resources engineer jobs are available with local, regional or national government agencies. Wastewater treatment plants, for example, utilize water resources engineers to ensure that the water moving through the plant is safe and the process it is treated with is conservative. Private companies and institutions may also utilize the services provided by water engineers. A mining company might use a water resources engineer to ensure the runoff from the mining operation doesn't pose a hazard to the general public.
Jobs relating to water resources engineering can be found in the field of hydrology. A hydrologist is a geologist trained in the use and conservation of natural water resources. Hydrologists and water resources engineers sometimes work together to create effective management systems for natural waterways that also serve the general public. A town that draws water from a river may be served by a team of water resources engineers and hydrologists. It is possible to become a water resources engineer if you have training as a hydrologist.