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How to Become a Hydroelectric Engineer

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Hydroelectric power is the process of using hydraulic turbines to convert water's energy into electricity. Hydroelectric power, a renewable source of energy, releases lower levels of greenhouse gases and is cleaner than fossil fuels. Hydroelectric engineers offer their technical expertise for the maintenance and development of hydroelectric operations and efficient ecosystem functions. They also conduct regular inspections on hydropower sites and supervise projects for integrity and safety.

Earn a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree in water resources; environmental, structural, civil, hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical engineering or an undergraduate degree in hydrology, physics or natural sciences is valid to begin a career as a hydroelectric engineer. While a master's degree in engineering is preferred, it is not a minimum requirement for most positions.

Get a professional engineer license. State and federal laws require licensure for practicing engineers and a license is also a minimum requirement to apply for jobs. Licensed engineers are referred to as professional engineers or PEs. The PE license requirements include at least a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited engineering school, four years of relevant work experience and completion of a state-administered Principles and Practice of Engineering (PPE) exam. Recent graduates and inexperienced engineers, on the other hand, take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and those who pass the FE are referred to as engineers in training (EIT). To apply for entry-level hydroelectric engineering jobs, EIT certification is a minimum requirement. EITs, once they acquire suitable work experience, take the PPE exam and get licensed as professional engineers.

Get the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design professional certification for green jobs. While not always a minimum requirement, some hydroelectric engineering jobs ask you for LEED certification. The LEED certification requires the applicant to attend a workshop and take a related exam.

Apply for a job as a hydroelectric engineer. Other valid job titles include water resource systems engineer, hydropower engineer, hydro-mechanical engineer and renewable or green-energy engineer.


Kiran Bharthapudi has more than seven years of experience in print, broadcast and new media journalism. He has contributed to several major news agencies, including United Nations radio, BBC online and "Consumer Reports" magazine. His articles specialize in the areas of business, technology and new media. He has a Ph.D. in mass communications.

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