Environmental engineers employ the sciences of chemistry, biology and to some extent, geology for the purpose of either maintaining environmental quality or developing a plan to clean up a pollution problem. They are involved in wastewater treatment and water systems design, in developing emissions control systems for factories, in recycling and waste disposal programs and in numerous public health issues created by the toxic remains of old manufacturing or mining operations. They often contract to assess the environmental impact of proposed developments.
Environmental engineering requires knowledge in a number of scientific fields. A bachelor's degree is adequate for an entry level position, but many environmental engineering graduates continue with graduate work while learning the trade as a junior employee. Environmental issues are all unique in the areas of knowledge required to assess them.
According to Department of Labor data there were 54,000 environmental engineers working in the U.S. in 2006. Environmental engineers act as consultants to architects on potential project impacts, and for government agencies to evaluate environmental problems or environmental impact studies submitted for a proposed development.
The environmental engineering profession is projected to grow very rapidly in upcoming years. The continued need for environmental impact assessments on construction or public work projects, along with increased regulation on pollution should cause the creation of additional environmental engineering job opportunities.
Lowest 10% $45,310
Median Salary $74,020
Highest 10% $115,430
Source: U.S. Department of Labor