How to Become an Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field, such as civil, chemical, or general engineering. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have practical experience. Therefore, internships or cooperative engineering programs may be valuable as well.

Become An Environmental Engineer in 2021? Salary, Jobs

What do environmental engineers do?

Environmental engineers are typically in charge of organizing, creating, and carrying out a variety of procedures that help with the reduction, mitigation, and control of waste, pollution, and other debris associated with industrial operations. These experts ensure that businesses undertaking environmentally hazardous projects, such as mining and sizable construction projects, are aware of and in compliance with all applicable environmental and public safety laws. Several responsibilities these professionals take on during their workdays include:

What is an environmental engineer?

Environmental engineers are specialists who work to reduce, minimize, and manage pollution and waste resulting from industrial projects such as mining, manufacturing, construction, and others. Environmental engineers work with businesses they work with to coordinate environmental protection measures to ensure adherence to environmental laws and regulations. The management of soil, ecological sustainability, and other areas of environmental development are among the subfields in which environmental engineers can work.

Average salary for environmental engineers

Following are the steps that make up the education and training needed to become an environmental engineer:

1. Complete a bachelors degree in environmental engineering

Complete a recognized program for a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. Prerequisites for the field’s courses typically include knowledge of science, mathematics, and engineering principles. Coursework in your major includes environmental rehabilitation, air quality management, pollution mitigation and control technologies, and water treatment. You will be qualified to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam once you complete your four-year degree program, which is necessary to enter the workforce.

2. Take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam

The FE exam is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), and the FE Environmental exam is specific to environmental engineering. Although the FE exam is the first step toward professional certification, it may not be necessary in your state of residence. The exam covers environmental chemistry, engineering fundamentals, applications of mathematics, legal principles, and additional environmental engineering-specific topics.

3. Gain work experience through an internship or entry-level role

You can gain the necessary work experience through internships and even entry-level positions to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. The NCEES may require you to have several years of work experience before sitting for the exam since it is the final step toward professional certification. Additionally, it will be very beneficial as you advance in your career to include your entry-level experience on your resume.

4. Take the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam for licensing

Take the PE exam through the NCEES. To provide services to the general public, many environmental engineers who work for federal, local, and state consulting firms and government agencies will need to obtain the professional engineers certification. Your license will increase your employment prospects and give you more credentials to demonstrate your expertise.

5. Consider obtaining your graduate degree

You could decide to pursue a master’s degree in environmental engineering. Some programs offer five-year programs that allow you to finish your undergraduate degree and begin your master’s program simultaneously. An advanced degree in environmental engineering or a related field is not necessary to begin your career, but it can lead to more job opportunities and higher earning potential. In addition, some states demand that engineers obtain a separate state license in addition to their NCEES professional certification before they can offer their services to the general public.

Frequently asked questions about being an environmental engineer

The following frequently asked questions can offer some additional insight if you’re still curious about an environmental engineer’s career:

What skills do environmental engineers need?

Environmental engineers are highly reliant on specialized hard skills. Some examples of the technical abilities that engineers in the field should possess include structural design, site management components, ecological rehabilitation technologies, mathematics and statistics, and the capacity to use technological equipment for job-related tasks. Having effective communication, research and analysis, writing, and leadership abilities is also important for career success.

What are additional specializations in environmental engineering?

Opportunities for employment in the field of environmental engineering can be found in a number of different specializations. Engineers may work to reduce environmental risks to building and construction sites through the practice of geotechnical engineering, which focuses on soil mechanics and foundation engineering. The study and creation of techniques for the extraction and mining of natural resources like oil, gas, and minerals are all included in geophysical engineering. In addition to these industry-specific specializations, environmental engineers can work in a number of hydrology and water resource fields to manage and safeguard ecological water systems in the environment.

What is the work environment like?

Environmental engineers might divide their time between working inside and outside. Project development, meetings, collaboration with coworkers and executives, data analysis, and research may be the main office tasks. Additionally, engineers frequently visit industrial and construction sites to assess operations, support waste reduction and mitigation procedures, and engage in other work-related activities.


How many years does it take to become a environmental engineer?

For employment in this field, a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering is a prerequisite. Additionally, some institutions offer a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree upon graduation.

Is Environmental Engineering hard to get into?

Environmental Engineering is undoubtedly a difficult major because it combines the fundamentals of both environmental science and engineering. However, because it isn’t as focused on complex math and physics, it is one of the more straightforward engineering majors you can choose from.

Is an environmental engineering degree worth it?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 3. Environmental engineers will see a 7% increase in employment between 2020 and 2030. In that period, an estimated 1,900 jobs should open up. Environmental engineers use their engineering expertise to prevent, control, or eliminate any environmental hazards.

Are environmental engineers happy?

It turns out that environmental engineers are happy with their careers on a scale of 2 They received 9 out of 5 stars, placing them in the bottom 23% of all careers.

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