Scroll down to read more:
Job title: Senior Hydrogeologist (Chile)
What are your qualifications?
A Levels: Geology, History,
BSc Geology and Geographical Sciences from the University of Luton
MSc Hydrogeology from the University of East Anglia
What exactly does a hydrogeologist do?
As a senior hydrogeologist and project manager I am in charge of managing a variety of mainly mining related hydrogeological projects for a variety of demanding mining companies in Chile. These projects include the following: water resource evaluation, mine facility hydrogeological characterization, mine dewatering, environmental baseline studies, acid mine drainage studies, environmental impact study support and permitting and groundwater modelling. I have direct contact with senior engineers, geologists and environmentalists working for our mining clients, as well as sub-contractors, consultants, environmental authorities and regulatory bodes.
As leader of the mine hydrogeology group within my company I manage a group of professionals on different projects.
Apart from formal qualifications, what other skills or characteristics do you need?
Spanish language skills are obviously essential for projects in South American countries. Good communication and organisational skills are vital when managing large projects. The ability to multi-task on several different projects is also very important as well as being able to manage often large amounts of money and get the projects done on time and within budget.
What sort of organisation do you work for? Who else employs hydrogeologists?
My company is a hydrogeological consultancy that has been actively working in South America for over 14 years. Apart from hydrogeological and environmental consultancies hydrogeologists are also employed by water companies, mining and water companies, and regulatory bodies such as the environmental agency in the UK.
If this wasn’t your first job after your studies, what did you do in between?
This is my first and only career-related job since my studies. I spent a year in England looking for work after graduating before this job came along. During that time I did voluntary work and temping.
Do you travel within the UK or overseas very much?
I live and work in Chile, South America, mainly travelling within Chile.
Do you work a regular length day/week or are shifts involved?
Office hours are 9am to 6pm, but as a senior level person in the company longer hours are sometimes required to meet deadlines. In addition short trips (generally less than 1 week) to mine and other field sites to attend meetings, give presentations, carry out site reconnaissance, review field programs etc. are often needed. When I started as a junior hydrogeologist I regularly worked shift patterns on field programs, which enabled me to gain essential experience in basic data collection and field methods.
What do you enjoy about your job?
The scenery and geography of Chile. Mine sites in South America are often spectacular, in beautiful locations in the Andes, under snow-covered mountains and sometimes active volcanoes, with salt flats, flamingos, and breathtaking sunsets. The work is always interesting and varied, giving me the opportunity to be involved in the whole spectrum of hydrogeology including environmental, geochemistry, and geotechnical related work. There are always challenges to be faced on projects and innovative solutions are often required to meet these challenges. Job satisfaction can be very high.
What advice or extra information do you wish you’d had before starting this career?
A career profile of what a hydrogeologist does would have been helpful; I wasn’t too sure about the skills required to be a hydrogeologist until I did my masters. I wish I had known more about the opportunities for hydrogeologists outside the UK. As a hydrogeologist working overseas the challenges faced are completely different to the classic textbook examples taught at university. University did not prepare me well enough for these challenges.
What position would you like to hold in five years' time?
Probably a senior management role in my company in Chile, however I enjoy the technical work and would like to continue to have an involvement in hydrogeological data analysis and interpretation.