50-State Engineering Licensing Compliance Guide
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Hydrology Engineering Firm License

Learn about the requirements for hydrology engineering firm licensing.

What Is Hydrology?

Hydrology is a branch of science that focuses on the occurrence, distribution, movement, and properties of water on Earth, as well as the relationship between the environment and those waters. A hydrology firm studies the fundamental transport processes in order to describe the quality and quantity of water as it moves through the hydrologic cycle.

Hydrology firms employ engineering hydrologists, also known as water resources engineers, who plan, analyze, design, construct, and operate projects that control, use, and manage water resources.

If you are currently operating a hydrology firm and are looking to outsource your maintenance and renewal duties, Harbor Compliance can help. We are available to review your business status, ensure you are in good standing in the state where you operate, and explain what steps you need to take to ensure you remain compliant with state and federal regulations.

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How to Start or Expand a Hydrology Firm

Practicing hydrology is inherently complex, so owners of firms need to ensure they abide by state and local requirements when registering and expanding their businesses. Requirements revolve around business registration, licensing, insurance, and continuing education.

Business Registration

The process to register your business will depend on your state’s requirements. In general, you will go through the following steps:

  • Learn your state’s business registration and licensing requirements.
  • Decide on a business name and entity structure.
  • Apply for a federal tax identification number from the Internal Revenue Service and register with the Secretary of State.
  • Obtain necessary types of insurance, including general liability, commercial auto, and workers’ compensation.
  • Research license and registration renewal requirements and prepare to keep your business compliant.

State Licensure

Licensing requirements for hydrology companies vary by state. It is essential to verify the process in your state to ensure you are prepared every step of the way. You will likely need to gather all relevant documentation, including financial statements, proof of a commercial activity license, a business plan, and more. You will also need to appoint a registered agent to receive notices of lawsuits and other legal or government notices.

After your license has been issued, you will receive notice to pay any related balances. If the application is not approved, you will receive notification regarding what is missing or required.

Meeting the hydrology license requirements is not always an easy process. Fortunately, the Harbor Compliance License Manager helps engineering professionals maintain their licenses by automating repetitive tasks such as tracking renewals. Through License Manager, you can also access Compliance Core™ - our extensive licensing database - to research the requirements states where you operate.


As with any other engineering field, hydrology is inherently dangerous. While much of the work relies on in-office duties on computers to arrange, summarize, and analyze data, others oversee water testing and field crews. To protect your business, it is essential to have a risk management plan in the form of insurance. Proof of insurance is also often required when applying for licensing. What is best for your business depends on your location and the types of services you provide. Contact an insurance specialist to learn about your options.

Continuing Education

Some states require continuing education credits in hydrology throughout the years you operate a business. This ensures business owners and employees keep up with new regulations, engineering methods, and more. The amount and frequency of training required varies by state. There are also federal requirements in certain instances through the EPA.

Maintaining and Renewing Licensure as a Hydrology Firm

No matter what stage you are in with your business, you need to maintain your license’s status. State requirements vary, but renewals are often required annually or biennially. You may need to submit a renewal application, pay a renewal fee, or pursue continuing education. Complying with renewal requirements will ensure you can continue to operate your business without disruption.

Keeping on track with your business’s license renewals can be complicated, especially as a growing company. At Harbor Compliance, our managed annual reporting and registered agent services ensure accurate due date tracking and on-time filing. This way, your business will continue to be compliant with state and local requirements, and you will have the time you need to continue working and expanding your clientele.

Explore Licensing by State

Click on a link below to view information in your state.

Meeting hydrology firm engineering requirements is not always an easy process. Fortunately, Harbor Compliance’s License Manager helps engineering companies maintain their licenses by automating repetitive tasks such as tracking renewals and compliance deadlines. Through License Manager, you can also access Compliance Core™ - our extensive, proprietary database of nationwide licensing requirements - to research the requirements for the states in which you work. Contact our licensing experts today to learn more.

Design Firm - Engineering firm registration is sometimes grouped with architecture and land surveying on a single “design firm” application form.

EI (Engineering Intern) - A term also used to describe an Engineer in Training.

EIT (Engineer in Training) - A professional designation granted upon having completed at least 3 years of school at an ABET-accredited university and having passed the FE exam.

FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) - An exam testing on basic engineering principles that is required to become an engineer in training.

PE (Professional Engineer or 'Principles and Practice in Engineering') - Means either Professional Engineer or refers to the Principles and Practice in Engineering exam that is a prerequisite for an engineering license.

Reciprocity - When a licensed engineer in one state can provide documentation (often an NCEES Record) to more easily apply for a license in another jurisdiction.

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
Accrediting board that sets standards for university programs in a variety of applied science disciplines.

American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)
Engineering, architecture, and land surveying advocacy group.

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Organization that provides continuing education, professional conferences, and advocacy efforts to the civil engineering community.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Mechanical engineering organization that focuses on education and professional development.

Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC)
Reviews accreditation requirements and makes final decisions regarding the accreditation process.

National Council of Examiners for Engineering & Surveying (NCEES)
Develops, administers, and scores the exams used for engineering licenses.

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)
NSPE is an advocacy group for professional engineers.