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Career profile Environmental Engineer

Also known as Air Pollution Control Engineer, Engineer, Engineering Consultant, Environmental Engineer, Environmental Remediation Specialist, Hazardous Substances Engineer, Sanitary Engineer

Environmental Engineer

Also known as Air Pollution Control Engineer, Engineer, Engineering Consultant

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$55,450 - $144,670 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Writing
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
Core tasks
  • Provide technical support for environmental remediation or litigation projects, including remediation system design or determination of regulatory applicability.
  • Collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians, engineers, experts in law or business, or other specialists to address environmental problems.
  • Assess the existing or potential environmental impact of land use projects on air, water, or land.
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What does an Environmental Engineer do?

Environmental Engineers research, design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental hazards using various engineering disciplines.

In addition, Environmental Engineers work may include waste treatment, site remediation, or pollution control technology.

What kind of tasks does an Environmental Engineer perform regularly?

Environmental Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Provide technical support for environmental remediation or litigation projects, including remediation system design or determination of regulatory applicability.
  • Collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians, engineers, experts in law or business, or other specialists to address environmental problems.
  • Assess the existing or potential environmental impact of land use projects on air, water, or land.
  • Design, or supervise the design of, systems, processes, or equipment for control, management, or remediation of water, air, or soil quality.
  • Advise corporations or government agencies of procedures to follow in cleaning up contaminated sites to protect people and the environment.
  • Inspect industrial or municipal facilities or programs to evaluate operational effectiveness or ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Direct installation or operation of environmental monitoring devices or supervise related data collection programs.
  • Prepare, review, or update environmental investigation or recommendation reports.
  • Develop site-specific health and safety protocols, such as spill contingency plans or methods for loading or transporting waste.
  • Obtain, update, or maintain plans, permits, or standard operating procedures.
  • Prepare or present public briefings on the status of environmental engineering projects.
  • Provide administrative support for projects by collecting data, providing project documentation, training staff, or performing other general administrative duties.
  • Coordinate or manage environmental protection programs or projects, assigning or evaluating work.
  • Request bids from suppliers or consultants.
  • Monitor progress of environmental improvement programs.
  • Serve as liaison with federal, state, or local agencies or officials on issues pertaining to solid or hazardous waste program requirements.
  • Provide assistance with planning, quality assurance, safety inspection protocols, or sampling as part of a team conducting multimedia inspections at complex facilities.
  • Inform company employees or other interested parties of environmental issues.
  • Develop, implement, or manage plans or programs related to conservation or management of natural resources.
  • Provide environmental engineering assistance in network analysis, regulatory analysis, or planning or reviewing database development.
  • Advise industries or government agencies about environmental policies and standards.
  • Assist in budget implementation, forecasts, or administration.
  • Prepare, maintain, or revise quality assurance documentation or procedures.
  • Develop proposed project objectives and targets and report to management on progress in attaining them.
  • Prepare hazardous waste manifests or land disposal restriction notifications.
  • Develop or present environmental compliance training or orientation sessions.

The above responsibilities are specific to Environmental Engineers. More generally, Environmental Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is an Environmental Engineer salary?

The median salary for an Environmental Engineer is $92,120, and the average salary is $96,890. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Environmental Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Environmental Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Environmental Engineers earn less than $55,450 per year, 25% earn less than $70,260, 75% earn less than $118,960, and 90% earn less than $144,670.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Environmental Engineers is expected to change by 3.8%, and there should be roughly 4,000 open positions for Environmental Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
$92,120
Typical salary range
$55,450 - $144,670
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
3.8%

What personality traits are common among Environmental Engineers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Environmental Engineer are usually higher in their Investigative, Realistic, and Conventional interests.

Environmental Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Environmental Engineers typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Lastly, Environmental Engineers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Environmental Engineer tend to value Recognition, Working Conditions, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Environmental Engineers strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Second, Environmental Engineers strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Environmental Engineers strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Environmental Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, attention to detail, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Environmental Engineers, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

What education and training do Environmental Engineers need?

Many Environmental Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Environmental Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Environmental Engineers

  • 0.7% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 3.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 2.6% completed some college coursework
  • 2.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 48.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 36.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 5.7% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Environmental Engineers

Environmental Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as engineering and technology, mathematics, or chemistry knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Environmental Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Chemistry
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Design
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Physics
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.

Important Abilities needed by Environmental Engineers

Environmental Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Environmental Engineers need abilities such as written comprehension, oral comprehension, and oral expression in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Environmental Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Environmental Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Environmental Engineers frequently use skills like writing, reading comprehension, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Environmental Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Writing
Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.