5 Reasons to Become an Environmental Engineer

by Megan Ray Nichols 

Environmental engineers use science and engineering to help the environment through better design. Multiple fields hire this type of worker, so you won’t have a shortage of job offers anytime soon. If you care about the environment and want to help the planet through a new career or a change from your current one, consider environmental engineering.

1. Protect the Environment

The main reason many enter environmental engineering is the ability to help the planet. In many manufacturing sectors, this position focuses on lessening industry’s impact on the planet. Though solid waste and water management are among the areas in which environmental engineers work, these are not the only ones. In the oil and gas industry, these engineers ensure compliance with regulations concerning pollution reduction and keeping nearby natural resources pristine.

2. Make a Good Salary

Depending on your degree, you can make an excellent salary in environmental engineering right after graduation. Though this varies widely, the average starting salary for environmental engineers is nearly $59,000. As of May 2017, the annual mean wage for environmental engineers is $91,180, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which means you might expect to earn more with a few years of experience under your belt. If you decide to start a consulting company, as many environmental engineers do, you could earn even more.

3. Job Security and Growth

If you get a degree in environmental engineering, you’re looking at a stable job market and future growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected environmental engineering jobs will grow by 12.4 percent between 2015 and 2024. This growth places it second only to the percentage growth for biomedical engineering among engineering jobs. By 2024, there could be 62,000 environmental engineering jobs.

4. Enjoy Multiple Career Fields

Environmental engineering is specialized, but there are so many applications for it, you could find yourself in a range of diverse fields. Environmental engineers first have chemical or other types of engineering degrees. That allows flexibility when searching for a job. Since so many fields have an impact on the environment, you could find yourself in the oil and gas industry, working at a waste management plant or finding ways to discover the source of pollution.

Waste management and water treatment facilities are other places where environmental engineers have a major impact on people’s lives. Without these fields, disease would run rampant. One of the earliest successes in environmental engineering was the creation of London’s sewer system by Joseph Bazalgette to stop the surging cholera outbreak in the 19th century. Thanks to sanitary waste disposal, such epidemics are uncommon in modern societies.

5. Make a Change for the Good in the Oil and Gas Industry

If you love the environment and lament the impact some industries have on it, become an environmental engineer. These positions help oil and gas companies cut back on the air and water pollution created in the drilling and extraction processes. Environmental engineers can work to prevent contamination of the surrounding environment and promote longevity of drilling equipment.

You may also help the industry reduce their wastewater and air pollution. Thanks to environmentalists’ efforts — including engineers — acid rain, which is the result of air pollution, has dropped up to 70 percent in some areas of the planet. Creating plans for wastewater disposal to prevent damage to the local ecosystem is another way environmental engineers work with the oil and gas industry. Until people discover a workable way to use completely renewable energy, fossil fuels will still prevail. As an environmental engineer, you can help this sector become greener.

Education for Environmental Engineers

Though you can get a job as an environmental engineer with just a bachelor’s degree, you may need further training. Graduate programs that get you a master’s and bachelor’s degree in just five years could be the right choice if you have the time to devote to be a full-time student. You may need an environmental engineering degree, a chemical engineering degree or a degree in general engineering. You will still need classes in chemistry, biology, math and various sciences to earn whatever degree you choose. Not all schools offer these programs. Talk to a counselor about your career and education goals.

Help the Planet and Boost Your Career

With a career in environmental engineering, you can make a true difference in the planet. You’ll be able to help industries that may not have been environmentally conscious in the past change their ways to become better stewards of natural resources. Additionally, you can help with the age-old problems of safe and sanitary waste disposal and water processing. Getting clean water and removing waste will always be vital parts of sustaining a healthy and prosperous society. Environmental engineers help change the planet and people’s lives through their work. And this field will only expand as humans search for more ways to help the Earth.



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