JOB OPPORTUNITY: Hydrologist, USGS Washington Water Science Center – Tacoma, WA

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Open & Closing dates

 06/01/2022 to 06/15/2022

This job will close when 50 applications have been received, which may be sooner than the closing date. Learn more


What General Information Do I Need To Know About This Position?


  • GS-11: $73,098 (step 01) to $95,022 (step 10) per year;
  • GS-12: $87,614 (step 01) to $113,902 (step 10) per year;
  • NOTE: First time hires to the Federal Government are typically hired at the Step 01.

Recruitment and/or relocation incentives may be authorized.

There is currently only one vacancy to be filled; however, this announcement may be used to fill additional vacancies if they become available.


As a Hydrologist within the Washington Water Science Center, some of your specific duties will include:

  • Conceptualizes and develops new scientific studies concerning groundwater quality in sub-surface waters.
  • Plans, directs and/or carries out complex water quality studies or significant components of large studies that describe and interpret water quality conditions to define, analyze, forecast or describe both natural and human induced hydrologic changes in groundwater system.
  • Serves as project leader of an interdisciplinary team.
  • Performs quantitative analysis of groundwater quality and hydrologic data using empirical or mechanistic models to explain or predict historic or future conditions.
  • Serves as a principal contact and subject matter expert to effectively answer groundwater quality resource issues.
  • Participates in a team that conducts and reports on complex scientific studies concerning water quality conditions.
  • Operates a motor vehicle as an incidental driver.

Above duties are for the GS-12 level. At the lower grade level, you will perform a wide range of tasks described in the above duties, but at a lower level of work designed to further develop and refine your knowledge and skills. Assignments will typically combine productive work with on-going training and instruction. Supervision received at the lower level will be closer with oversight and review being provided more frequently.

Physical Demands:

  • The work is performed both in an office and in the field. Field work requires frequent physical exertion (i.e. long periods of standing, recurring, considerable walking, bending, stooping, climbing, etc.) while conducting field portions of project work and with inspection of ongoing operations. Work may include frequent lifting of moderately heavy items weighing less than 50 pounds and may involve operating small watercraft, driving motor vehicles to work sites.

Work Environment:

  • The work involves some degree of risk when conducting field sites. Field site visits are subject to weather changes, diverse terrain, and safety hazards associated with working around complex features and/or construction or industrial settings that may be subject to noise, fumes, and moving machinery. Position requires use of personal protective equipment and following safety precautions and protocols.


Conditions of Employment

Key Requirements:

  1. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens.
  2. Suitable for Federal employment, as determined by background investigation.
  3. You may be subject to serving a one-year probationary period.
  4. You must provide a valid state driver’s license & safe driving record.
  5. You are subject to successful completion of a pre-employment medical exam.
  6. More requirements are listed under Qualifications and Other Information.

Are There Any Special Requirements For This Position?

  • If selected you may be asked to provide information regarding your COVID-19 vaccination status for the purposes of implementing workplace safety protocols, such as those related to masking, physical distancing, testing, travel, and quarantine.
  • This vacancy is limited to the first 50 applications received and will close at midnight Eastern Time on the day this application limit is reached regardless of the closing date specified in this vacancy announcement. Any application received prior to midnight Eastern Time of the day the application limit is reached will be accepted and considered. You are strongly encouraged to submit all required supporting documents at the time of application should the vacancy close earlier than stated in this announcement due to the applicant limit being reached. Supporting documents will not be accepted once the vacancy announcement closes.
  • Taking and passing a pre-employment medical examination at Federal expense is required due to the physical demands of this job.
  • If selected, you will be required to provide proof of a valid State license & your driving record.
  • You will be required to apply for a charge card within 30 calendar days of appointment. If you have delinquent account balances from a previous Government charge card will be required to satisfy their existing obligation before a new card can be issued.
  • A background investigation will be required for this position. Continued employment will be subject to the applicant’s successful completion of a background security investigation and favorable adjudication. Failure to successfully meet these requirements will be grounds for termination.
  • Throughout the recruitment and hiring process we will be communicating with you via email; therefore, it is imperative that the email address you provide when applying for this vacancy remains active. Should your email address change, please notify the point of contact identified in the vacancy announcement as soon as possible so that we can update our system.


BASIC EDUCATION REQUIREMENT: You must meet either A or B below to satisfy the basic education requirement for this position:

A. Successful completion of a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s or higher degree in physical or natural science, or engineering that included at least 30 semester hours or the equivalent in any combination of courses in hydrology, the physical sciences, geophysics, chemistry, engineering science, soils, mathematics, aquatic biology, atmospheric science, meteorology, geology, oceanography, or the management or conservation of water resources. The course work must have included at least 6 semester hours or the equivalent in calculus (including both differential and integral calculus), and at least 6 semester hours or the equivalent in physics. – OR-

B. A combination of education and experience-course work as shown in “A” above (30 semester hours or the equivalent in any combination of courses as specified in “A” above which must include at least 6 semester hours or the equivalent in calculus (including both differential and integral calculus), and at least 6 semester hours or the equivalent in physics), plus appropriate experience and/or additional education for a total of 4 years. The education or combined education and experience must be comparable in type, scope and thoroughness to that acquired through successful completion of a 4-year course of study as described in “A” above. (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS ON HOW TO COMBINE EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE)

For GS-11:

In addition to the basic education requirement as stated above, you must meet one of the following to qualify for the GS-11 level:

  • Three years of progressively higher level graduate education (54 semester hours, 81 quarter hours or the equivalent) leading to a Ph.D. degree in hydrology or other directly related field of study or Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree in hydrology or other directly related field of study if it provided the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to do the work of this position. **OR
  • One year of appropriate professional experience in hydrology that is equivalent to at least the GS-09 level in the Federal service. Examples of such experience include independent responsibility for a well-defined study or for a phase of a larger study that required the planning and carrying out of routine hydrologic work. This work would have required the individual to select and make minor adaptations to procedures and accepted practices and handle unexpected conditions arising in the normal course of the work. At this level, Hydrologists have a sound working knowledge of the principles of hydrology and the ability to independently perform moderately difficult and responsible scientific work. **OR
  • A combination of successfully completed graduate level education, as described, above that is beyond the second year of progressive graduate study and professional experience, as described above. (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS ON HOW TO COMBINE GRADUATE EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE)

For GS-12:

In addition to the basic education requirement as stated above, you must have one year of appropriate professional experience in hydrology that is equivalent to at least the GS-11 level in the Federal service. Examples of such experience include planning and executing complex hydrologic studies, which usually involved intensive investigations into recognized phenomena. This work typically involved conventional methods & techniques though it required going beyond clear precedents, and required adapting methods to the problems at hand and interpreting findings in terms of their scientific significance. At this level, Hydrologists have a very good knowledge of the principles of hydrology and their application, and the ability to independently perform scientific work of considerable difficulty.You must meet all qualification and eligibility requirements for the position by the closing date of the announcement. NOTE: You must submit all transcripts for the basic education requirement as well as if using education to qualify or a combination of education and experience.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g. Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community; student; social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.


  • You are required to provide all unofficial transcripts (undergraduate, graduate, etc.) or list of course work, which includes semester hours earned and grade received, and if applicable, degree conferred in order to satisfy the basic requirement as well as if you are qualifying based in whole or part on education.
  • Education completed in colleges or universities outside the United States may be used to meet the above requirements. You must provide acceptable documentation that the foreign education is comparable to that received in an accredited educational institution in the United States. For more information on how foreign education is evaluated, visit: .

Agency contact information

Sally Dillinger

12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Mail Stop 600
Reston, VA 20192
Learn more about this agency

For the full details of this job listing and to apply, please visit

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