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To become a hydraulic engineer you first need training and education. Hydraulic engineers design and build things that are associated with water, its effects, and behaviors. A degree from a college or university is required for those who want to become a hydraulic engineer. Likewise, a hydraulic engineer needs to gain working experience and to develop the expertise to build structures and systems that handle water. Job duties require a number of skills and abilities.
The educational requirements for those wanting to become a hydraulic engineer are a bachelor's degree in civil or chemical engineering. If you want to move past the entry-level position, you will likely need to get a master's degree. In addition, some hydraulic engineers need certification as a professional engineer. Mathematics, physics, and design are part of the college coursework. Hydraulic engineers must also be trained to read and interpret blueprints, drawings, maps, aerial photography, and topographical and geologic data necessary for the design and development of water projects like harbors, dams, pipelines, or irrigation projects.
After formal education and training is complete, anyone wanting to become a hydraulic engineer must develop skills that come from real-world, on-the-job experience. Most engineering companies assign a mentor or tenured engineer to work alongside entry-level employees and to teach them the necessary skills. These skills include analysis of survey reports and other documents used to determine construction location, material costs, type of equipment necessary, and how much labor is needed to successfully complete a particular project. Additional skills required for this position include the ability to estimate water flow rates, compute load and grade requirements, determine material stress factors, and test soil to determine strength of materials.
Job duties for hydraulic engineers include drafting, designing specifications for technical parts. On-site project inspections to assure conformance to local government, safety, and sanitation standards may also be part of this job. Most hydraulic engineers work their way up through the ranks of a company and are promoted to work as project managers. As project managers, hydraulic engineers will gain the valuable experience of working with and directing a small group of other engineers, hydrologists, and scientists, eventually working up to the position of hydraulic engineering manager.