Do you have an interest in science and the desire to protect the environment?
If so, and you have strong problem-solving and analytical skills, a career as an environmental engineer could be perfect for you. This job mainly involves identifying environmental problems and developing innovative solutions.
You need to have a lot of specialist knowledge and drive to land and successfully do this job. While it can be rewarding, it can also be both physically and mentally challenging and requires a lot of stamina.
To discover if this could be the perfect job for you, check out my in-depth…
- Environmental Engineer Job Description
- Duties And Responsibilities
- Skills And Attributes
- Tools Of The Trade
- Environmental Engineer Education And Training
- The Working Environment
- Studying To Become An Environmental Engineer?
- Final Thoughts
Environmental Engineer Job Description
A typical job description will start by outlining the company organization you would be working for. It will also identify the main area you would be working on. This could include wastewater treatment, pollution control, or site remediation.
The job description will provide an overview of the main tasks and duties you would be charged with. It will outline the educational background, knowledge, and experience that candidates need to have. It is also likely to include details of the skills and attributes that the ideal candidate should have.
Duties And Responsibilities
Your daily duties will depend on who you work for and the projects you are working on. However, there are certain tasks that you are sure to be tasked with regularly. Here are some of the main duties and responsibilities that you will be expected to fulfill.
Read more: Environmental Specialist Job Description
Applying Scientific Data
Once environmental data has been gathered, you will need to accurately analyze it and form conclusions. You need to have a good understanding of the scientific data to use it correctly. And make recommendations on important changes that need to be made.
Depending on your findings, there are several different types of recommendations that you can make. These include reclamation, cleanup, and different types of water management solutions. It is important to be able to make the best recommendation possible and use data to back up your decisions.
Designing Engineering Projects
You will design different types of projects, such as new air pollution monitoring systems. Other types of projects could include waste disposal and infrastructure to minimize human impact on different locations. It is important to comply with all of the relevant regulations when designing and implementing these projects.
Monitoring and Inspecting Sites
You are likely to have to visit various sites regularly to make sure they comply with environmental regulations. You will need to use computer modeling and mathematical calculations to assess and forecast different types of environmental issues.
This will help you to determine whether or not action needs to be taken and, if so, the best course of action.
Reviewing Environmental Regulations
You need to make sure that all environmental regulations are being correctly applied. This may include reviewing the stormwater management practices for different stormwater programs. Alternatively, you must monitor compliance with air pollution protocols.
You need to report all significant environmental incidents to plant management and write reports on your investigative efforts. This includes accidents like potential permit non-compliances, external releases, internal spills, and any upcoming regulatory inspections.
You also need to regularly consult with and advise policymakers on the environmental best practices.
Skills And Attributes
It takes a lot of specialist knowledge and skill to do this job successfully. However, you also need to have certain soft skills to relate to other people and manage aspects of the work. Here are some of the key skills and attributes that will help you do the job of an Environmental Engineer well.
Knowledge of processes and systems
You need to have deep knowledge of the systems and processes that are related to the field you work in. These can include chemical engineering, geography, geology, fluid dynamics, and hydrology. You need to be able to explain these systems and processes clearly, both verbally and in writing.
Research and writing skills
You need to have strong research skills and the ability to express complex ideas clearly and simply in writing. A large part of this job involves making recommendations, which are backed up by your research. It is important to make sure that important findings are expressed so that they can be understood by everyone.
You need to be able to come up with relatively simple solutions for complex problems. It is essential to make sure that the solutions you recommend solve several different issues simultaneously. This includes safeguarding the health of workers, reducing environmental damage, and preventing loss for your employer.
You will need to interact with people from all walks of life to achieve common goals. Be able to diffuse potentially volatile situations. You need to be able to work well both as part of a team and alone.
Imagination and creativity
You need to be able to predict how different systems and designs will interact with those already in place. Sometimes, the best solution may not be the immediately obvious one. You need to be able to think outside of the box and visualize solutions that other people overlook.
You need to be able to use different functions of Microsoft Office to create reports. This includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You will make presentations of your findings via video conferencing software.
Tools Of The Trade
There are several types of tools you need to use to do this job. It is important to be familiar with these tools and be able to use them effectively. You will be responsible for maintaining these tools to make sure they are in complete working order.
Some of the tools you will use include:
- Environmental engineering software.
- Air samplers and collectors.
- Air velocity and temperature monitors.
- Water samplers.
Environmental Engineer Education And Training
You need to hold a Bachelor’s Degree in environmental engineering, chemical engineering, or civil engineering to do this job. Ideally, your degree program should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Gaining a Master’s Degree in environmental engineering will dramatically increase your chances of getting hired.
After you have your degree, you need to get licensed to work as a professional engineer. The exact license you need will depend on the state you work in. If you move states for work, you may need to obtain a new license. To get a license, you need four years of work experience and to pass discipline-specific examinations and general engineering exams.
The Working Environment
You will usually work forty hours a week during regular office hours. However, you may need to work longer hours when working on some projects. This may also require you to work on some weekends and during public holidays.
You need to be comfortable working outdoors in all types of weather conditions. You will often have to travel to construction sites and conservation areas. Other work will take place in a laboratory or office setting.
Studying To Become An Environmental Engineer?
Firstly, if you’re interested in looking at alternative engineering work, check out my Top Highest Paying Engineering Jobs to see what the options are.
Next, we’d like to help make your studying easier with these amazing textbooks and guides we’ve found, such as the Introduction to Environmental Engineering, and another is the Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science, or the ISE Principles of Environmental Engineering & Science, the Environmental Engineering: Prevention and Response to Water-, Food-, Soil-, and Air-borne Disease and Illness, and the Biofilm Reactors WEF MOP 35 (Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Series), as well as the Air Pollution Control Engineering (Handbook of Environmental Engineering, 1) all available online in 2023.
Furthermore, are these excellent handbooks, for example, The Introduction to Infrastructure: An Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Advanced Biological Treatment Processes: Volume 9 (Handbook of Environmental Engineering, 9), or the Water Quality And Treatment: A Handbook on Drinking Water (Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Series), and finally the Biosolids Treatment Processes: Volume 6 to help you further your studies.
We also recommend reading up on the Environmental Engineering FE/EIT Preparation Sample Questions and Solutions, the Environmental Engineering: FE Review Manual, or how about the PPI FE Environmental Practice – Comprehensive Practice for the NCEES FE Environmental Exam, the Practice Problems for the Environmental Fundamentals of Engineering Exam: 240 Practice Problems with Solutions and the PPI FE Review Manual: Rapid Preparation for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, 3rd Edition – A Comprehensive Preparation Guide for the FE Exam for help acing those exams.
This is a great career if you consider yourself to be an ecowarrior and you can make a real difference. It takes dedication and expert knowledge to qualify to become an environmental engineer.
However, the salary for this role is significantly higher than average. The starting salary for this role is typically $52,000 per year, which works out to $25 per hour. With a little experience, you can expect to earn around $86,000 per year.
If you excel in your career, you could earn up to $134,000 per year, which is an impressive $64 per hour.
All the very best working as an Environmental Engineer!