Careers with an Environmental Engineering Degree

The ultimate purpose of a degree in this field is to enable you to be a competent professional in a variety of environmental engineering-related careers. In other words, it enables you to become an environmental engineer. But what does that mean? And is that all you can do with this degree?



Careers in the Field

If you choose to pursue a career in environmental engineering, you will be in high demand in a variety of industries. This is due to the technical expertise, hands-on problem solving skills and keen understanding of environmental issues you will posses as a graduate.


These sectors in which you are likely to find work include, but are not limited to, resource industries such as forestry, mining, pulp and paper, chemical process, fisheries, agri-food, and oil and gas.


For example, as an environmental engineer, you might be involved in performing an environmental impact assessment, in designing or managing systems for water distribution and collection, water treatment plants, solid waste handling and processing facilities, landfills, and air treatment plants.


Careers Outside of the Field

You aren’t limited to these options however; you can also choose to pursue careers in research, environmental technologies, education, training, and consultation.


If you want, you can even apply your transferrable skills to a career that isn’t related to your degree at all!


To find out more about where an education in environmental engineering can take you, read on below.


This guide contains detailed occupational information on career paths relevant to this degree. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other information related to these occupations.




What Does an Environmental Engineering Program Teach You?

Through a combination of coursework and hands-on learning, an environmental engineering program enables you to gain an understanding of engineering fundamentals, analysis and design.


More specifically, these programs can provide you with knowledge of the natural sciences (chemistry, biology, and microbiology) as well as skills and knowledge in civil engineering.



What is the Purpose of Environmental Engineering?

The main purpose of environmental engineering as an area of professional practice is to ensure that development activities within our society are undertaken in a sustainable manner. In order to achieve sustainability, our resources must be managed in such a way that pollution and environmental degradation are minimized.


As such, one of the purposes of these programs as a whole is to provide you, and other students, with the knowledge base and skill set you’ll need to become effective in an environmental engineering-related career field, so that our society can accomplish these goals.



Employable Skills Gained by Students

Degree programs in this field are designed to teach you skills that are necessary to succeed in a career as an environmental engineer. As a graduate of one of these programs, you should be armed with skills and knowledge in the following areas:


• Common industrial process design

• Design of waste-water and air pollution control technologies

• Function, process and interactions of the major environmental systems: air, land, water, and living

• Fundamental concepts of heat, mass transport, fluid dynamics and process of water and dispersion of pollutants in surface and groundwater

• Engineering and environmental science fundamentals

• Geo-environmental and mining environmental engineering

• Wastewater analysis and treatment

• Methods in the prevention and control of industrial pollution



Careers Relevant to an Environmental Engineering Degree

Behold this massive list of occupations you can pursue that are directly related to the subject matter that an environmental engineering degree program teaches, and the skills and competencies it can help you develop:


• Agricultural Engineer

• Blogger

• Chemical Engineer

• Consumer Advocate

• Drafting Technician

• Ecologist

• Energy Auditor

• Energy Efficiency Engineer

• Energy Engineer

• Energy Policy Analyst

• Energy Researcher

• Entrepreneur

• Environmental Analyst

• Environmental Auditor

• Environmental Consultant

• Environmental Engineer

• Environmental Engineering Technician

• Environmental Lawyer

• Environmental Manager

• Environmental Scientist

• Farmer

• Forest Engineer

• Geotechnical Engineer

• Greenhouse Operator

• Hazardous Waste Manager

• Hazardous Waste Technologist

• Hydrographer

• Hydrologist

• International Aid Worker

• Land Surveyor

• Lobbyist

• Market Gardener

• Military Officer

• Municipal Environmental Coordinator

• Nanotechnologist

• Nursery Operator

• Oceanographer

• Paleontologist

• Parks Planner

• Patent Agent

• Process Engineer

• Research Engineer

• Safety Coordinator

• Safety Engineer

• Sanitation Engineer

• Site Manager

• Soil Conservationist

• Sub-Sea Engineer

• Survey Technician

• Technical Sales Engineer

• Transportation Planner

• University Professor

• Wastewater Operator

• Wastewater Treatment Engineer

• Water Resources Engineer

• Wildlife Biologist


Please Note: Some of the above listed careers require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the qualifications you’ll need.





Who Hires Graduates?

Below is a list of the types of companies and organizations that commonly hire environmental engineers (not an exhaustive list):


• Architectural & engineering Firms

• Agri-food producers and distributors

• Engineering consulting firms

• Federal government departments (such as Forestry, Transportation, etc.)

• Provincial/state government departments (such as Forestry, Transportation, etc.)

• Municipal government departments

• Utility companies

• Energy companies (including oil and gas)

• Mining and lumber companies

• Colleges and universities

• Public and private research firms

• Special Interest Groups

• Non-profit organizations

• Conservation and environmental groups

• Chemical development and processing companies



Possible Work Settings

If you choose to pursue a career in the field of environmental engineering upon graduation, you could end up performing a wide variety of tasks, in many possible work settings. For example, you could end up…


• Providing advice to industry and government representatives concerning environmental policies, regulations and standards

• Conducting environmental audits to assess operating industrial sites to determine if operations satisfy environmental quality criteria, regulations and guidelines

• Developing pollution prevention and control plans for industrial clients

• Researching and developing methods for minimizing the creation of gaseous, liquid and solid waste

• Designing and developing wastewater collection, management and treatment systems for municipalities and industrial clients

• Conducting water quality assessments of rivers, lakes and groundwater

• Conducting air quality assessments at local, regional and global levels

• Assessing the potential impact that proposed land use projects will have on the environment



Specializations Within This Field

There are many environmental problems to be solved…enter the engineer. But can a general degree in this field help you solve a diverse range of problems? Well, sure it can. But, there’s no harm in picking a specialty if you really have an itch to solve a certain kind of problem.


Depending on your career and personal interests lie, you may be able to specialize in the following areas:


• Air quality, monitoring, modeling and air pollution reduction

• The design and construction of industrial chemical processing and hazardous waste treatment facilities

• The design and construction of landfills

• Environmental assessment, modeling and site remediation for soil and groundwater waste management, collection and reduction

• Geo-environmental engineering

• Hazardous wastes, air and water resources

• Water and wastewater quality monitoring, modeling and water management and treatment, sewage management






Typical Salary Level of Graduates

The salary level you could earn as someone who holds a degree in this field can vary quite a bit, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education (bachelor’s, graduate etc.)

• Whether or not you end up working in environmental engineering

• If you achieve a professional designation (such as PE)

• The amount of work experience you’ve accumulated

• The size and type of your employer

• The industry in which you find work

• The region in which you find work


That’s a lot of factors that can influence your earnings. To make it easier to determine what you could earn, let’s just look at the average salary level of an environmental engineer.


Salary Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Environmental Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $92,054 per year.


Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Environmental Engineers occupational group is $80,890 per year.



Environmental Engineering Scholarships

To help you pay for school, try taking a look at our scholarships that are specific to environmental engineering database. And while you're at it, be sure to apply to as many as you can; there is so much scholarship money that goes unused every year in North America, simply because of a lack of applications being submitted.



Top Banner Image: 
Top Banner Image Title: 
Environmental Engineering