Career Information for a Degree in Environmental Engineering

Oct 09, 2019

Environmental engineering degrees can prepare individuals to become environmental engineers or environmental scientists. These professionals need bachelor's degrees to be qualified to work in these fields. Environmental engineers must also be licensed.

Essential Information

A degree in environmental engineering prepares individuals to work for different industries in one of this profession's many specialties. Environmental engineers are expected to have strong employment prospects in the coming decade. Besides school, these professionals may choose to earn their professional license.

Career Titles Environmental Engineer Environmental Scientist
Required Education Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements License from National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying None
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 5% 8%
Median Salary (2018)* $87,620 $71,130

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Environmental engineers and scientists use mathematical and scientific principles to design solutions to environmental problems. Depending on their employer, these engineers and scientists may work on local or global issues.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers may work with residential or urban design companies to ensure that construction obeys regulations and doesn't harm the surrounding ecosystems. According to the American Academy of Environmental Engineers, they can work in the containment of specific types of pollution, such as air pollution control, waste water management and toxic materials control.

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists can use a degree in environmental engineering to study and protect the environment and human health. They work to clean up polluted areas, advise policy makers or reduce industrial waste.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for environmental engineers and environmental scientists were expected to increase 5% and 8% respectively from 2018 to 2028. The BLS indicated that these professionals help companies comply with environmental regulations and assist government organizations during public health concerns.

Salary Information

In May 2018, the BLS reported that the average annual salary for environmental engineers was $92,640. Besides engineering firms, environmental engineers can work for consulting industries and governmental organizations. Professional certification may influence salary and career advancement opportunities. That same year, the average annual salary for environmental scientists was $77,580.

Education Programs

Most environmental engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. Programs like the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering include course topics in microbiology, hydrology, organic chemistry and other environmental engineering science topics. Coursework from related engineering departments, such as civil and mechanical, are also included. Non-engineering requirements include sequences in calculus and physics.

Many environmental engineering programs offer concentrations, such as air quality, ecology and water resources. Some programs require students to select a concentration and complete the requisite courses in the final two years.

Licensing Requirements

The path to licensure for most engineers requires passing two exams that are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. The first is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, which includes an environmental engineering version.

After passing the FE, environmental engineers need to work for four years before they are eligible for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. The PE for environmental engineers includes topics in air, water, waste management, health and safety.

Solving environmental problems is the focus of environmental engineers and environmental scientists. Both fields are expected to show strong job growth from 2018 to 2028, which means that there should be many employment opportunities for those with environmental engineering degrees. These professionals work to improve air quality, protect natural resources, and ensure corporations comply with environmental regulations.

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