Job description

Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering to respond to a diverse array of environmental issues, such as waste management, effluent disposal, pollution control and site remediation. By preventing, controlling and resolving an environmental mishap, they can determine if a private enterprise or a public outfit is complying with public regulations established by the government.

Duties

    • Examine, design or install a system that treats and disinfects water before discharge
    • Apply engineering principles to projects to prevent environmental hazards
    • Research the worksite and outline ways to control the immediate vicinity
    • Assess the potential environmental impact of land, water or air from a particular project
    • Consult with corporations and governments about the right ways to clean contaminated sites
    • Perform engineering duties that can solve eco problems generated by the project
    • Confirm if companies or public works endeavours comply with environmental regulations
    • Work with hazardous waste technicians to address operational problems
    • Collaborate with environmental scientists to deliver detailed assessments and reports
    • Monitor standard operating procedures to know if they are being maintained
    • Prepare and compose technical, operational and investigative reports
    • Establish worksite health and safety protocols
    • Present public findings on the position of various environmental engineering projects
    • Investigate the progress of different environmental improvement programmes
    • Create, institute and manage conservation plans and natural-resource programmes

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Communication
Analytical
Attention to detail
Patience
Numerical
Tech-savviness
Organisational
Time management
Creativity
Teamwork
Independence
Leadership
Physical stamina

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

40hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally

An environmental engineer’s schedule will vary based on place of employment and the tasks at hand. For the most part, you can expect to work a typical 40-hour schedule, but those hours could be completed during regular business hours or they could be done nights or weekends.

You can also expect to allocate your time in an office, in a laboratory and in the great outdoors, especially if there has been an environmental accident. Travel is also common, both at home and abroad.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$53k

Median

$88k

Top 10%

$140k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

Undergraduate

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

4years

To become an environmental engineer, you’ll typically need to complete a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related subject like civil or chemical engineering.

Gaining a Professional Engineering licence isn’t essential but can be useful. Licensing requirements vary by state, but you will generally need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering and Professional Engineering exams, as well as complete usually four years of professional work experience, in order to qualify.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.

8%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

4.5k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

1.8%

Career progression

An environmental engineer will obtain experience and build upon his or her skills by working on elementary projects and on a team. However, with several years under your belt, you will eventually be assigned to more difficult projects and be given greater autonomy. Many environmental engineers move on to become technical specialists or they go on to supervise other engineers and technicians.