Environmental Chemical Engineer

Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Environmental Chemical Engineer


Over-consumption, waste and pollution are a few of the rapidly growing environmental problems facing our society. Yet what happens to all of our waste? How come we are lucky enough to live in a country that provides safe drinking water? These are issues that environmental chemical engineers address. We take for granted such "luxuries" because we have grown accustomed to these products of chemical and environmental engineering.

Environmental chemical engineers design systems, processes and equipment for air, water and soil quality control, solid waste disposal, and the remediation of contaminated soil, air and water. They develop strategies to reduce pollution at the source and treat wastes that cannot be eliminated. Applying chemistry theories, they calculate the impact of human activity on the environment and seek to design methods of environmental sustainability, conservation and protective efforts and reparations if necessary.

Environmental chemical engineers provide economical answers to clean up yesterday's waste and prevent tomorrow's pollution. Catalytic converters, reformulated gasoline and smoke stack scrubbers all help keep the world cleaner. Additionally, environmental chemical engineers help reduce the strain on natural materials through synthetic replacements, more efficient processing, and new recycling technologies. It is common for environmental chemical engineers to work with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste management technicians and other engineering specialists as well as lawyers and bankers.

Environmental chemical engineers work on both large and small scales in terms of the issues they work with. For instance some conduct hazardous-waste management studies and design municipal sewage systems while others deal with worldwide issues such as minimizing the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions, and the protection of wildlife. Due to the growing number of environmental problems that seem to arise each day, the need for environmental chemical engineers is growing and new challenges present themselves to these professionals.

Environmental chemical engineers create plans on computers that test and predict possible environmental problems and in their research, they generate solutions. Most environmental chemical engineers travel to laboratories and sites to see their work in progress (if it is a structural project) and otherwise spend their days researching and formulating new ideas on environmental sustainability. They evaluate each project to find the most cost-effective solutions to problems while still maintaining recognized engineering and governmental standards.

Environmental chemical engineers are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Aerospace Engineer
arrow Agricultural Engineer
arrow Agricultural Technologist
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad


  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Environmental chemical engineers are consciously concerned about the decline of our environment therefore seeking ways to improve and promote a safe and clean environment. They should be knowledgeable about the implications of environmental legislation and the effects of human consumption on our environment. They should keep updated on a new technologies and changes in the environmental climate.

Environmental chemical engineers must be safety conscious and practical in decision making. They possess good communication skills because they work closely with architects, lawyers and environmental activists. Environmental chemical engineers can analyze data, review calculations and prepare cost estimates and have the ability to visualize three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings. They must be passionately dedicated to their projects, be creative in their designs and be as knowledgeable as possible in both the chemical engineering and environmental fields. Finally, they should enjoy being innovative, doing work that requires precision and making solid decisions.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Assess industrial sites to determine if they satisfy environmental quality criteria
  • Advise companies and governments about the cleanup necessary to protect human beings and the environment
  • Design safe solid waste transfer and disposal sites (landfills), water supply and treatment systems and wastewater collection and treatment systems
  • Recommend procedures to clean up sites that have been contaminated with hazards
  • Determine how to use, protect and treat surface and groundwater most effectively and economically
  • Monitor contamination levels so that potential disasters do not occur
  • Assess the potential environmental impact of land use projects, such as pipelines and gravel pits, and new and existing manufacturing facilities, such as chemical plants on air, water and land
  • Determine whether industries or municipalities are complying with environmental regulations, acting as an environmental watchdog
  • Promote integrated waste management planning programs
  • Monitor and manage air, water or soil quality
  • Research and develop methods for treating and minimizing liquid and solid wastes
  • Design chemical waste treatment and pollution control equipment
  • Advise industry and government regarding environmental policies and standards
  • Work with others in their organizations to acquire permits to operate or construct facilities.
  • Working conditions for environmental chemical engineers will vary depending on their duties. They work both in offices and outdoors in all kinds of weather at field sites. Certain sites may be contaminated, smelly, noisy, dirty and cluttered. Therefore, when working in such hazardous conditions, environmental chemical engineers must wear personal protective equipment. Most environmental chemical engineers work eight- to 10-hour days, however may be required to put in longer hours when there are emergency situations. Travel for extended periods of time may be required and many jobs take place overseas and in underdeveloped countries where there are mounting environmental problems with little engineering work being done to help.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Environmental chemical engineers work in environmental and chemical engineering firms, government departments of energy, public works and the environment, manufacturing industries, chemical and petrochemical industries, waste management companies, academic and research institutes, and natural resource industries such as mining, oil and gas.

  Long Term Career Potential  
With experience, environmental chemical engineers can become project managers and eventually advance to the management of very large global environmental projects. As environmental issues are becoming a high priority in society and will not go away with so many of our present polluting tactics, creative environmental chemical engineers will always be needed to solve these important issues. Environmental chemical engineer's can eventually progress to chief engineering positions are work on huge cases that involve media attention and critical consequences. They might also consider working for the government as inspectors or officials.

Some environmental chemical engineers may decide to branch off on their own and establish their own environmental consulting companies. Those with PhDs might teach at a university or college or conduct research.

  Educational Paths  
Due to the nature of the job, environmental chemical engineers require a university degree in chemical or environmental engineering or in a related field of chemical engineering. They must also become registered as a Professional Engineer (PEng) within an association of professional engineers to secure employment and practice in their field. A masters degree in environmental chemical engineering is useful, particularly in todays competitive job market.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Ottawa
York University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Site Map | Cities Site Map | California - Do Not Sell My Info

Copyright 2003- 2020 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.