Employment growth continues to ramp up in the green jobs sector, and environmental engineering is one field in which the opportunities for a rewarding career just keep multiplying. Environmental engineers use scientific and technological principles to prevent or repair harm to the environment, complying with federal and local regulations in the process. They address a range of environmental problems from the broad to the highly specialized, including waste management and disposal, recycling, pollution control, public health, and land management.
The American Academy of Environmental Engineers reports that training in environmental engineering opens up job opportunities in any area of environmental protection, but the specific opportunities available may change depending on the priorities of governmental policy and public interest. The industries that most frequently employ environmental engineers include the following:
- Architectural and engineering services
- Scientific and technical consulting services
- Federal, state, and local government
- Universities and testing laboratories
The type of work available in environmental engineering is just as diverse, with common job tasks encompassing research and data analysis, regulatory compliance, equipment or systems design, and management. Some environmental engineers determine the effects of construction projects on air, water, and wildlife, while others help clean up hazardous waste. Still, others work to ensure a clean public water supply and adequate wastewater treatment. In essence, environmental engineers contribute to improving the quality of life on a local and global scale.
Environmental Engineering Universities & Degrees
Environmental Engineering Associate Degree: While a bachelor’s degree is the minimum education needed to start working as an engineer, 2-year associate degree programs in environmental engineering technology and related fields are available. The degree of Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) prepares you to work with licensed environmental engineers to help them.
Environmental Engineering Bachelor’s Degree: Most environmental engineering occupations require a four-year degree in a field or related field, such as civil, chemical, or mechanical engineering. These can be depending on the program, be Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) degrees.
Environmental Engineering Master’s and Doctoral Degrees: An growing number of employers choose master’s degree holders to work as environmental engineers. Master of Science (MS) degrees are typically in environmental engineering or environmental science, which can include specialty fields such as hazardous waste management concentrations. Much more advanced and in-depth expertise is offered by a doctoral degree, making you competitive for a broader variety of job opportunities.
Online Environmental Engineering Degrees: A Master of Science is currently the most frequently offered option for online environmental engineering degree programs. In related fields, such as civil engineering, environmental sciences, or environmental engineering technology, some online bachelor’s and associate’s degrees are available.
Environmental Engineer Salaries
The U.S. BLS reports that the median national annual wage for environmental engineers is $87,620, from the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Actual wages can vary greatly depending on field specialization, venue, years of experience, and some other variables. National long-term employment growth forecasts do not reflect economic or employment conditions at the local and/or short-term level and do not guarantee actual job growth.