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Environmental Engineer


Description

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 engineers address. We take for granted such "luxuries" because we have grown accustomed to these products of environmental engineering.

Environmental 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. Applying scientific theories, they calculate the impact of human activity in relation to the environment and seek to design methods of environmental sustainability, conservation and protective efforts and reparations if necessary.

Other titles for environmental engineers are air quality engineers, quality control engineers, industrial hygiene engineers, hazardous waste management engineers, solid waste management engineers or water and wastewater engineers. It is common for environmental engineers to work with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste management technicians and other engineering specialists as well as lawyers and bankers.

Areas that currently need attention are contaminant transport, ecosystem protection, global systems protection, ocean protection, and international treaties development. Environmental 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 engineers is growing and new challenges present themselves to these professionals.

Environmental engineers create plans on computers that test and predict possible environmental problems and they generate solutions. Most environmental engineers travel to the 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.
 
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Norwich University - Online
Earn your Master's degree online from Norwich University.
Programs Offered:
  • Master of Civil Engineering Online

 

 



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$38,640
 
Median Salary:
$61,410
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$91,510

  Interests and Skills  
Environmental 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 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 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 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 (e.g. pipelines, gravel pits) and new and existing manufacturing facilities (e.g. 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 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 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 engineers must wear personal protective equipment. Most environmental 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 engineers work in environmental 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 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 engineers will always be needed to solve these important issues. Environmental engineers can eventually progress to chief engineering positions or work on big cases that involve media attention and critical consequences. They might also consider working for the government as inspectors or officials.

Some environmental 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 engineers require a university degree in environmental engineering or in a related field of civil 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 engineering is useful, particularly in todays competitive job market.
 

Sources:
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

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Norwich University - Online  Online
Earn your Master's degree online from Norwich University.
Programs Offered:
  • Master of Civil Engineering Online
Campus Locations:
  • Northfield, VT

 
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