Manager, Geohydrologic Data, Sandie Will: A Day in the GeoLife Series @RockHeadSciences

Sandie Will, Geology Manager and Writer

Sandie Will, Geology Manager and Writer

NAME:  Sandie Will, P.G.

CURRENT TITLE:  Geohydrologic Data Manager/Professional Geologist

AREA OF EXPERTISE:  Water Resource Management/Data Collection/Hydrogeology


EDUCATION:  B.S. Geology; M.S. Environmental Engineering Sciences


What’s my job like?

I am the manager of 15 personnel in a large water resource management agency and my staff includes Professional Geologists, hydrologists, field supervisors, drillers, driller assistants, technicians and a student intern.  Our goal is to have a comprehensive understanding of the groundwater system and to collect high quality data.

The section I manage collects geohydrologic data and our activities primarily include coring and testing to 3,000 feet below land surface, preparing well designs, overseeing well construction, performing aquifer testing, and repairing and plugging wells.  I am responsible for the successful operations of my programs, including a large, regional observation well network, as well as making sure the data we collect are reported to other scientists who use it for groundwater modeling and other analyses.

What’s a typical day like?

Core drilling rig - Photo by Sandie Will

Core drilling rig – Photo by Sandie Will

A typical day starts with driving approximately 40 minutes to my office where I will work closely with my boss, co-managers and staff that happen to be in the office.  Many of my staff members are based out of different offices, so I don’t see them every day.  I usually start my day with checking emails, where I receive the bulk of my assignments from upper management and receive notifications from staff on any administrative and technical issues or information.

Most of my day is spent on administrative tasks, problem solving, communicating our efforts to others, organizing, planning and evaluating Section processes, and developing employees.  Administrative tasks include approving time off requests from employees, reviewing budgets and expenditures such as for parts and supplies, and interviewing prospective employees.  Problems can be anything from mechanical issues with the rig to conflicting contractor schedules to determining the funding source for a new priority well site.  Communication on the status of our efforts to others is important and I do this by attending meetings, giving presentations, and making sure our technical reports and data are shared with others.   Future planning for upcoming well sites and needed budgets are also essential, and I continuously evaluate our processes and track our progress, making changes as needed to increase efficiency.   One of my favorite parts of my job is developing employees.  Whether it’s by coaching them on their presentation for the first time or providing them training opportunities, an employee’s success is one of my top priorities.

What’s fun?

Visiting the sites!  It’s very interesting to get behind the rig with the drillers to see the cores come out of the ground and all the fossils and the characteristics of the different rock types.  I also like to see when the geologists graph all the data together (lithology, aquifer testing, water levels, water quality, water discharge) to determine the depths where formation changes occur and whether a unit is a confining unit or an aquifer.  Other interesting field work includes seeing the water level changes through time plotted on graphs as the aquifer responds to pump tests to see how deep the drawdown will be, how quickly the water level will equilibrate while pumping, and how long water levels will take to return to normal once pumping is stopped.  All of this will give us an idea of how well aquifers will produce water if needed for future water supplies.

My favorite times are when staff gets together during the year for our staff meetings.  It’s fun to hear and share stories and work as a team to solve problems.

What’s challenging?

Life in the field can be hard and an ever changing industry with new rules to follow can make employees frustrated, so keeping employee morale up can be challenging sometimes, but I’m very fortunate to have a cooperative team of highly experienced individuals who make my job easy.   Keeping up with technical changes can be challenging also, but in a good way – it pushes us and makes us stronger.  We thrive when there’s a new challenge to conquer, keeping us on the cutting edge of technology and helping employees to advance in their careers.

What’s my advice to students?

The geology field is very interesting and rewarding, but be prepared to work long, hard days in conditions that can be challenging including thunderstorms and rain, extreme heat and cold, remote areas, downtown cities with high traffic, as well as with numerous critters including snakes, spiders, ants, etc. of all different varieties.  In addition, you could spend numerous days traveling throughout the month.  If you’re adventurous, though, this job will be right up your alley!  Depending on the industry, you could end up seeing numerous states and countries, as well as all different types of geologic settings.

A good technical understanding will be key for a new job, but just as important are communication skills.  Many times, when it comes down to two candidates for a job, the one with the better interpersonal skills will come out on top.  Show your passion for your work in interviews and always be open to change in your upcoming positions.  It comes with the territory!

If you would like to participate in this blog series, please fill out the form at the following link: A Day in the Life Form


  1. mike

    Who pays the wages? Is USA water being ‘privatised’? Do you get drought conditions in your area? Are there ‘water wars’ there?

    1. Sandie Will

      My wages are paid by taxpayers. I can’t speak to the rest of the US but I only know of one water supplier that has been privatized. Most water utilities are controlled by the county or city. Yes, drought is a problem for our area and at times there are watering restrictions put in place. Florida is known for water wars. See ‘water wars in Florida’ in Wikipedia for a summary if you’re interested. Are these types of issues in your area as well?

  2. abdoul madjid allane

    Great information ! . Thank you Dr sandie for share with us such wonderful experience. Waiting for more

    1. Sandie Will (Post author)

      Glad you are enjoying the series! Stay tuned for more posts from other geologists on my home page.

  3. Kostas Mandilaris

    I m starting my hydrogeology MSc next month in sweden and this was exactly what I was looking for! Thank you very much it sounds pretty interesting! I would love to have an informational interview with you! Have a great day.

    1. Sandie Will (Post author)

      Hi! So glad you liked my blog post. I’d be happy to answer any questions regarding my career. I’ll send you an email so you have my contact information. Thanks for stopping by! –Sandie


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