Inside Environmental Engineer Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Skilled Tasks Stuck In An Office With No Math Or Science...
I was surprised by how many general task would be involved in a job that requires relatively high degree of qualification. There is still a lot of thinking and interest that goes into my work but not a lot of raw math and science. This and I also wish I had not found myself in a situation where I am stuck in the office all day." (Environmental Technician; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Oklahoma, male
School: Studied Mechanical Engineering at University Of Oklahoma in Oklahoma; completed Bachelor degree in 2009

"I was surprised that so many majors learned skills that could be useful as an industrial hygienist. Coworkers have backgrounds in math, chemistry, environmental engineering, chemical engineering, and industrial hygiene. Each brings a specific set of skills but each also has topics to learn more about as you need to know a lot about each of the majors to succeed." (Industrial Hygienist; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Maine, female
School: Studied Environmental Engineering at University Of New Hampshire in New Hampshire; completed Bachelor degree in 2012

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Monitoring Supervisor: "The best parts of the job are as follows: - I have the chance to do something that is both rewarding and exciting: the conservation of forests, rives, lakes, and other natural resources. - I work in a multinational, multicultural, global organization. - I have the chance to travel around the world, from Michigan to Florida, from Canada to Argentina, from China to Australia. - I meet many people from different organizations and I have the chance to compare procedures and learn from different perspectives. The only bad part is that sometimes work can be a little routine and boring." (2011)

Supervisor Of Regulatory Staff In Government Agency: "My favorite part of my job is working with my staff. They are really smart people, and I love the process of working together to solve a particular problem with a project, or figuring out what the best way is to get something done. The collaborative process is what makes my job fun. The worst part of my job is having to write reports or letters for my supervisors in response to requests they get. They often pass that work down to me." (2011)

Environmental Engineer: "The best parts of job are the numerous. I enjoy the people I work with at the state agency and also most of the company folks and their consultants. The work is important in protecting human health and the environment and provides many challenges. Although travel is restricted, I am able to find online training courses and we also have interesting presentations of soil and groundwater cases as tele-conferences. The worst part is probably keeping up with the paper work and reporting. We receive lots of documents that need to be reviewed and filed. We have to enter in lots of process milestones in EPA's database to make sure we are keeping up with our annual commitments." (2010)

Career Background

Environmental Engineer

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"The World's Your Oyster But Be Careful It's A Challenge...
If you want to be an engineer the world is your oyster if you have the degree and a good resume. I would be careful to find a job somewhere that you know you are interested in even though that can be the challenge for anyone on the market." (Environmental Technician; 2014)

"As An Engineer I Like To Get Answers For Everything Happening...
Keep up with latest technologies, feel young by learning new things everyday. Stay hungry." (Software Engineer; 2014)

"How To Succeed At The Job...
Study science and biology. Work in these fields is exciting. Consider learning a lot about world geography and natural resources. Work to become more environmentally conscious. Do research. Read papers and technical studies. Take part in blogs and forums, and don't feel afraid to provide you opinion on global matters. Listen to other people's opinions. Learn about diversity and how important it is. Get a relevant college degree. Learn quantitative methods. You'll use these skills quite a bit in this field. Many times you have to take measurements and analyze data." (Monitoring Supervisor; 2011)

"Knowledge You Need From College...
Take as many courses as you can in engineering or engineering-related fields, particularly those that will teach you about how to calculate volumes in pipes and basins (usually hydrology is the right term, but not always). This is often considered basic engineering. A big part of my job involves evaluating whether storm water structures are sized correctly, so I need to know how to calculate how much water is flowing off a particular area, and whether it will fit in a basin or pipe. We evaluate engineers' work, so we don't have to start from scratch, but we need to know enough to know whether their work is correct. Soil science and and botany are also very useful. Finally, coastal geology is a terrific area to concentrate on. We are always looking for people with coastal geology expertise." (Supervisor Of Regulatory Staff In Government Agency; 2011)

"Use Public Databases To Smoke Out Internships...
Environmental engineering is a great field but make sure to gain a good knowledge of groundwater hydrology and chemistry. Take some courses on soils and geology as well as anything dealing with chemical fate and transport in the environment. See if it is possible to intern with an environmental agency or consultant to see how you like the real-life aspects of an environmental career. Take a look at the EPA RCRA and Superfund public databases and see where contaminated sites are in your local area." (Environmental Engineer; 2010)