Research Technician (Water sources and quality in Grand Canyon National Park)

Northern Arizona University

Flagstaff, AZ, US

Workplace Culture

NAU is a community devoted to student success and sustained by an unshakable commitment to our shared mission, vision, and values. We—faculty, staff, and administrators—thrive by combining our efforts and working side by side to further NAU’s culture of excellence.

Special Information

This position will work on a cooperative project between NAU and the NPS regarding water sources and quality in Grand Canyon National Park.  Work will be done in conjunction with NPS hydrologists and geologists and with substantial office time at NPS facilities in Flagstaff, AZ and frequent field trips into the park.  Field trips are, on average, 4 days, but can last as long as 14 days (rare) and will include work in springs, streams, caves, slot canyons, and/or exposed arid lands.

Frequent field work will require backcountry travel and long hours including work over weekends.

As Grand Canyon National Park begins the process of upgrading the parks water supply and delivery infrastructure, it is critical that the park develop a better understanding of the quantity, quality, and vulnerability of water resources. Current understanding of the overall source water area for the park water supply (Roaring Springs) is poorly defined and needs to be evaluated.  This research helps improve understanding of the surface area on the Kaibab Plateau that drains through springs associated with Bright Angel Creek. With this information, the park will be better able to assess the available water supply, especially in light of climate change, and how vulnerable the water supply is to contamination.

Immigration Suppt/Sponsorship

NAU will not provide any U.S. immigration support or sponsorship for this position.

Furlough/Pay Reduction Program

Northern Arizona University has implemented a salary reduction with personal flex time program in fiscal year 2021, as a result of COVID-19.  It is possible for this position to be subject to this program. Details can be found on the HR website.

Job Description

  • Collects various types of hydrologic data in the field. Collects stream discharge, sediment, and/or groundwater and surface water survey data utilizing established procedures and instructions. Measures discharge, water quality parameters, and geomorphologic and hydraulic characteristics at springs, streams, and cave sites. Collects various water samples using established clean sampling techniques. While standard methods, practices, and procedures are available to reference, the incumbent is frequently required to use judgment to make adjustments, seeking assistance as necessary.
  • Operates, adjusts, maintains, and inventories surveying and hydrologic sampling and field equipment.  Plans multi-day field trips into wilderness areas with consultation with National Park Service (NPS) specialists utilizing NPS permits, backcountry routing forms, and route beta. Builds, maintains, and operates remote stream gages often with limited to no outside assistance.
  • Quality assures, quality controls, and reduces data to be used for analysis by internal and external researchers. Conducts internal analyses with these data such as computer modeling, statistical analysis, and geospatial analysis using well-established specified procedures. Recognizes gaps or inconsistencies in the information and identifies possible sources of supplemental data to complete the work.
  • Accesses and maintains computer records and databases. Inputs and retrieves data, runs programs, and organizes automated record keeping systems.  Prepares preliminary drafts on routine phases of water resource investigations for inclusion in broader reports.  Presents basic data at internal workshops and meetings.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in hydrology, hydrogeology, geomorphology or a field appropriate to the area of assignment; OR,
  • Four years research or hydrological experience appropriate to the area of assignment; OR,
  • Any equivalent combination of experience, training and/or education.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience conducting scientific research in Grand Canyon or similar rugged backcountry sites.
  • Experience in single rope technique, especially related to rappelling and ascending in and out of vertical caves, along cliff faces, and canyoneering.
  • Advanced experience with troubleshooting streamgages or similar hydrologic instrumentation in remote locations.
  • Advanced experience in statistical software, ArcGIS, data reduction, and use of this skill with complex hydrological datasets.
  • Wilderness first aid training.
  • Experience working and interacting with people from a variety of culturally diverse backgrounds.

Knowledge, Skills, & Abilities

  • General understanding of the basic principles of hydrology and geomorphology.
  • Knowledge of the technical aspects and established techniques of hydrologic data collection including collecting stream discharge data, creating a stage-discharge relation, and clean water sampling techniques.
  • Knowledge of and skill in the use, repair, and maintenance of various hydrologic equipment, including measuring and sampling devices, current meters, and sediment samplers.
  • Knowledge of database management, word processing, and specialized software programs to input and access data, produce documents, and manage computer records including Microsoft Excel, Office, and statistical software.
  • Ability to communicate information in a clear and concise manner, to develop reports and communicate results of data collecting.
  • Ability to traverse 8-12 miles per day in rugged terrain with a heavy pack.
  • Ability to conduct scientific research in Grand Canyon or similar rugged backcountry sites.
  • Abilities in single rope technique, especially related to rappelling and ascending in and out of vertical caves, along cliff faces, and canyoneering.
  • Ability to troubleshoot streamgages or similar hydrologic instrumentation in remote locations.
  • Ability to use statistical software, reduce data, and ability to use this skill with complex hydrological datasets.

Background Information

Northern Arizona University requires satisfactory results for the following:  a criminal background investigation, an employment history verification and a degree verification (in some cases) prior to employment.  You may also be required to complete a fingerprint background check.

Additionally, as an employer in the state of Arizona, NAU is required to participate in the federal E-Verify program that assists employers with verifying new employees’ right to work in the United States.

Finally, each year Northern Arizona University releases an Annual Security Report. The report is a result of a federal law known as the Clery Act. The report includes Clery reportable crime statistics for the three most recent completed calendar years and discloses procedures, practices and programs NAU uses to keep students and employees safe including how to report crimes or other emergencies occurring on campus. In addition, the Fire Safety Report is combined with the Annual Security Report for the NAU Flagstaff Mountain Campus and NAU-Fort Defiance as these campuses have on-campus student housing. This report discloses fire safety policies and procedures related to on-campus student housing and statistics for fires that occurred in those facilities. 

If you would like a free paper copy of the report, please contact the NAUPD Records Department at (928) 523-8884 or by visiting the department at 525 E. Pine Knoll Drive in Flagstaff.


The budgeted salary amount is $30,444 to $34,860.

**The starting salary will be determined by the qualifications of the selected applicant balanced with departmental budget availability, internal salary equity considerations, and available market information.

FLSA Status

This position is exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and therefore will not earn overtime or compensatory time for additional time worked.


This is a Classified Staff (CLS) position.  NAU offers an excellent benefit package including generous health, dental and vision insurance; participation in the Arizona State Retirement System; paid vacation and 10 holidays per year; and tuition reduction for employees and qualified dependents.  More information on benefits at NAU is available on the Human Resources benefits website. Classified Staff employees are in a probationary status for their first six months at NAU.

NAU is a tobacco and smoke-free campus.

Employees offered a position will be eligible for state health plans (including NAU’s BCBS Plan).  New employees are eligible for benefits on the first day of the pay period following their enrollment, after their employment date.  Employees will have 31 days from their start date to enroll in benefits. Additionally, new employees will begin participating in the Arizona State Retirement System, and the long-term disability coverage that accompanies it, on the first of the pay period following 6 months after the new employee’s start date. 

Learning and Development

Your career at Northern Arizona University includes the opportunity for professional development.  New employee on-boarding training includes courses to be completed within the first 30 days. If your position includes the supervision of a benefit-eligible employee, we offer the NAU Supervisors Academy for you to complete within your first 2 years. 

Application Deadline

August 24, 2020 at 11:59 pm.

How to Apply

To apply for this position, please click on the “Apply” button on this page.  You must submit your application by clicking on the “Submit” button by midnight of the application deadline.  If you need assistance completing your application there are instructions available on the Human Resources website or in person in the Human Resources Department located in Building 91 on the NAU Campus – on the corner of Beaver and DuPont Streets. 

If you are an individual with a disability and need reasonable accommodation to participate in the hiring process please contact the Office of Equity and Access at: 928-523-3312/TDD – 928-523-1006 or PO Box 4083, Flagstaff AZ  86011.