Environmental Engineering Jobs

Environmental engineering uses engineering and science principles in order to improve the quality of the natural environment. This includes water, land and air resources. Environmental engineering strives to improve water quality, manage wastewater, increase recycling efforts, reduce air pollution and increase the amount of usable land for human use. Many environmental engineers study the impact of construction on the environment.

Environmental engineering can involve various duties. Environmental engineers may conduct studies on air pollution or wastewater management to determine their significance, develop recommendations for treatment and create policies to control and prevent future environmental issues. They may also design wastewater treatment systems and study global problems such as acid rain, ozone depletion, global warming, and water and air pollution.

In order to get your foot in the door of the environmental engineering field, you will need a bachelor's degree in an engineering field, such as environmental, civil, chemical or mechanical engineering. Many employers are starting to require master's degrees, so it is to your advantage to spend an extra year or two obtaining this degree. Many environmental engineers go on to obtain law degrees in order to use their expertise in environmental law.

An environmental engineering education can be broken down into three main areas: environmental technology, environmental engineering or systems and environmental chemistry. Environmental technology focuses on creating and using devices to measure, monitor and control the impact of environmental issues. Environmental engineering or systems classes are geared more toward civil engineering in that they involve the impact of landscapes and structures on the environment and how they can be built to protect the environment. Environmental chemistry focuses on chemicals in the environment, such as pollutants, mining processes and biochemicals.

Should you choose to pursue a degree in environmental engineering, you can expect to take classes in environmental engineering fundamentals, monitoring, measurement analysis, chemical processes, air and water quality, sustainability principles, environmental regulations, wastewater collection and treatment, and organic pollutants. You may also be required to take classes in computer simulation, atmospheric chemistry and green engineering. An internship may also be required.

Besides the main college coursework of environmental engineering courses, you should also focus on gaining other valuable skills that will help you in your future career. Since you will be required to work closely with clients and co-workers, you need to have excellent verbal and written communication skills. Be sure to take English and speech classes in order to brush up on your skills. You will also need to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. These skills can be obtained by taking advanced math and science classes.

Although most of those employed in the environmental engineering field are engineers and scientists, the field is very broad and offers many employment opportunities. An environmental engineering degree can be applied in many areas, such as environmental policy and regulation, natural resource management, hazardous or solid waste management, noise pollution and risk assessment.

There are nearly 50,000 environmental engineers in the United States. The annual salaries in the environmental engineering field range from about $49,000 to more than $119,000. Most work in engineering and consulting. The highest number of environmental engineers is in California, with nearly 6,100, almost twice as many as the next state on the list, Florida, with 3,100. However, the highest-paying state is Utah, with average annual salaries of more than $110,000. Next on the list is Alabama, with an average environmental engineering salary of more than $100,000. The highest wages for a metropolitan area can be found in Huntsville, Alabama, which boasts salaries of nearly $145,000 annually.

Environmental engineering can be done in many countries around the world, since there are environmental issues all over the world and in every country. Most issues occur where the most people live, however, so your chances for employment are better in larger cities. Although most environmental engineers work outdoors, this can vary depending on your specialty.

Environmental engineering has become more popular in the past decade, thanks largely in part to increased efforts to become more environmentally responsible. In fact, environmental engineer was ranked as the fifth-best job in 2010 due to factors, such as high pay, job security, flexibility, job growth and personal satisfaction.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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