An environmental engineer works to improve water and air pollution, recycling, public health, and waste disposal. Additionally, they use engineering chemistry, biology, and soil science to develop solutions to environmental problems. These problems can include unsafe drinking water or climate change. They also obtain, update, and maintain standard operating procedures and plans for environmental projects. Watch a video to learn what an environmental engineer does.
How to Become an Environmental Engineer
Environmental engineers need a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field like chemical, civil, or general engineering. Also, programs should include field studies, laboratory, and classroom time. Because employers value practical experience, cooperative engineering programs are helpful where college credit is given for structured job experience.
Some universities and colleges offer a 5-year program where students ultimately earn a master’s degree. However, graduate degrees are valuable for engineers, as they may have additional career opportunities in research. Some employers prefer hiring candidates that hold a degree from an accredited program, like the ABET. In fact, an accredited program is normally necessary to become a licensed, professional engineer. High school students who may be interested in this career should take classes in physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics.
Job Description of an Environmental Engineer
Environmental engineers review, prepare, and update environmental investigation reports and design projects that help protect the environment. This includes operations that convert waste into energy. They also give the technical support necessary for environmental remediation projects and for legal actions.
An environmental engineer performs quality control checks, analyzes scientific data, and monitors environmental improvement programs. Additionally, they inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. They also advise government agencies and corporations about clean-up procedures for contaminated sites. An environmental engineer can be found working in a variety of places, depending on the nature of their job task.
Environmental Engineer Career Video Transcript
Just about every large-scale human activity has an impact on the environment. Preventing damage and managing it when it does occur, is the job of environmental engineers. This is a career that combines practicality and creativity to keep air, soil, and water quality healthy and productive. Environmental engineers use research and design skills to manage waste treatment and pollution control efforts. They also use a variety of tools, and the latest technology, to find efficient ways to monitor environmental well-being. Since much of their work involves meeting government regulations, environmental engineers need to be experts at requesting permits and maintaining plans and procedures that insure others support the systems they put in place.
Environmental engineers divide their work between the office and the outdoors. They often do some traveling to collaborate with scientists and experts in law or business. Many work as consultants to help corporations and government agencies with the cleanup of contaminated sites. A master’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field is required for some positions, while other positions require only a bachelor’s degree. When this job is done well, the earth gains a little protection, so future generations can enjoy its bounty. Produced by CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Environmental Engineers.
National Center for O*NET Development. 17-2081.00. O*NET OnLine.