September 22, 2021

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Environmental Engineer Job Description – How to Become an Environmental Engineer

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Environmental Engineer Job Description

Environmental engineers use engineering and science principles to design solutions that will help with environmental problems. There are many types of projects that environmental engineers work on, but a few examples include designing plans to reduce pollution, improving recycling efforts, and increasing the efficiency of waste disposal.

Many environmental engineers work for the government, and may work on projects like waste treatment facilities and water supply systems. They also research the environmental impact of proposed construction projects, and help the government develop regulations that protect the environment from industrial mishaps.

Some environmental engineers try to develop new methods that can help minimize the effects of things like global warming, acid rain, or car emissions. These represent very big challenges with no easy solutions, and often require a lifetime of work to make a noticeable impact.

In many cases, environmental engineers need to work closely with experts in other fields to develop effective solutions to the problems they’re trying to solve. They often need to consult with legislators, climate change analysts, conservation scientists, and urban planners to get a well-rounded view of a particular problem.

This can be a very rewarding occupation for engineers who want to feel like they’re having a positive impact on the world.

Work Environment and Schedule

Most environmental engineering work for engineering firms and local, state, and federal government agencies.

Environmental engineers split their time between the office and the field. In the office, they work on project plans and collaborate with other engineers. In the field, they visit work sites to monitor the progress of their projects and ensure that all components are built to their specifications.

Nearly all environmental engineers work full time, and many are required to work overtime. Because they often work on deadline driven projects, they are sometimes required to work long hours to make sure that the deadlines are met.

This can be a stressful occupation at times, particularly as deadlines approach. It can also be frustrating to deal with some legislators and members of the general public who don’t take environmental problems as seriously as they should.

How to Become an Environmental Engineer

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to become an environmental engineer. Civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and environmental engineering are all common majors for undergraduates who want to work in this field.

Some schools offer five year programs that lead to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. If you have the option, earning a master’s degree can be very advantageous later in your career, as it’s sometimes a requirement for more advanced positions.

Before you enroll in an academic program, you should make sure that it’s accredited by the ABET. If it isn’t accredited, you won’t be able to get licensed.

Getting a license isn’t always required, but most employers prefer candidates who have one. There are two licenses available to environmental engineers, and each should be taken a different stage of your career.

The first license you can get can be earned by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. This can be taken immediately after graduating from college. After passing that exam and getting work experience, you can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Many environmental engineers choose to become Board Certified from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. Having this certification demonstrates that you have expertise in the field in which you practice.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 51,400 environmental engineers in the United States, with 2,260 new environmental engineer job openings created each year.

Environmental Engineer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Environmental Engineer Salaries

Overall Salaries

Environmental Engineer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most environmental engineers make between $61,600 – $100,000 per year, or $29.60 – $48.08 per hour

Career as an Environmental Engineer or Technician – Description, Income, & Qualification


Environmental engineers work in a scientific field where they find solutions for environment related issues. Their job includes the search for solutions to protect humans from adverse environmental factors, such as Air and Water pollution. Some of them work on protection of the environment. They use their knowledge and experience to solve environmental issues. They make plans on how to improve public health, how to keep our environment safe, and how to protect environment from damages from human activities.

When environmental engineers receive a project, they start their investigation usually by visiting the land/site. They use soil testing, biology, physics, and chemistry knowledge to prepare reports and plans on how their client can achieve the task at hand. There is a lot of demand for environmental projects due to global warming and the increase in worldwide pollution.

Environmental engineering technicians work alongside environmental engineers. They cannot lead projects, as they don’t have the license to do so. They help engineers in every step of the way in finding solutions to given problems. They often have to do field work; they collect sample that they later use in laboratories to conduct different tests.

Work Conditions and Timings

Environmental engineers usually work in safe locations. Project planning and preparing solution, they do these things inside their offices. But, they often have to visit hazardous sites/locations where their expertise are needed. During their training, they learn how they can protect themselves properly when they are visiting or surveying hazardous sites.

Environmental engineering technicians spend a lot of their time inside laboratories where they conduct testing for or alongside engineers. When in the field outdoors, they collect samples for later testing.

This is a fulltime job. It may require employees to come to work at any time in case of an emergency.


To get an environmental engineering job, you need a bachelor’s degree in environmental, civil, chemical, or other relevant engineering department.

Environmental engineering technicians need at least high school degree to get a job. To increase your chances of getting a job or to get better employment, you can continue studying to receive an associate’s degree.

Job Prospects

Due to increased public awareness of global warming and other environmental issues, the demand for environmental engineers is high. According to BLS, this occupation is set to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024. There are currently 56,000 environmental engineering jobs in US.

Environmental engineering technicians hold around 20,000 jobs in the US.


Environmental engineers are making [approximately] $50,300 to $128,500 per year. The median annual pay is around $85,000.

Technician’s salary is between $36,000 and $60,000.

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