Environmental engineering is the application of science and engineering principles to improve the natural environment (air, water, and/or land resources), to provide healthy water, air, and land for human habitation (house or home) and for other organisms, and to remediate polluted sites. It involves waste water management and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, radiation protection, industrial hygiene, environmental sustainability, and public health issues as well as a knowledge of environmental engineering law. It also includes studies on the environmental impact of proposed construction projects.
Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies to evaluate the significance of such hazards, advise on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps. Environmental engineers also design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems as well as address local and worldwide environmental issues such as the effects of acid rain, global warming, ozone depletion, water pollution and air pollution fromautomobile exhausts and industrial sources. At many universities, Environmental Engineering programs follow either the Department of Civil Engineering or The Department of Chemical Engineering at Engineering faculties. Environmental “civil” engineers focus on hydrology, water resources management, bioremediation, and water treatment plant design. Environmental “chemical” engineers, on the other hand, focus on environmental chemistry, advanced air and water treatment technologies and separation processes.
Additionally, engineers are more frequently obtaining specialized training in law (J.D.) and are utilizing their technical expertise in the practices of Environmental engineering law. About four percent of environmental engineers go on to obtain Board Certification in their specialty areas of environmental engineering
Most jurisdictions also impose licensing and registration requirements.
Using the principles of biology and chemistry, environmental engineers develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues. Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of the hazard, offer analysis on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps. They design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems. They conduct research on proposed environmental projects, analyze scientific data, and perform quality control checks.
Environmental engineers are concerned with local and worldwide environmental issues. They study and attempt to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion. They also are involved in the protection of wildlife.
Many environmental engineers work as consultants, helping their clients to comply with regulations and to clean up hazardous sites.
A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for any position in environmental engineering. Colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees in environmental engineering can be found on the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors Web site. They also list master’s and doctoral programs in environmental engineering, or in environmental science and technology.
Like other engineers, environmental engineers must be licensed. The licensed engineer is then known as a professional engineer (PE). To be licensed, an engineer must have a degree from an accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on a state examination. The first part of the examination, however, can be taken right after graduation from college. Once passing this exam, the engineer is then called an engineer in training (EIT) or engineer intern (EI). The American Academy of Environmental Engineers offers a specialty certification program in this field, which requires not only a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related engineering specialty, but a professional engineer’s license and eight years of advanced education in environmental engineering.
Environmental engineers must be knowledgeable in various types of computer programs, such as analytical and scientific software, compliance software, and graphic imaging and CAD technology.
Environmental engineers generally work a standard forty-hour week in comfortable offices, laboratories, or industrial plants. They may be required to travel and work onsite if they are working on a particular project. Dealing with serious environmental issues that affect the health of humans and animals can result in stress.
Almost a half of Environmental engineers work in professional, scientific, and technical services and some are employed in Federal, State, and local government agencies. Others work in various manufacturing industries.
Environmental engineering graduates should have favorable job opportunities. Employment of environmental engineers is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through 2012. Much of the expected growth will be due to the emergence of this occupation as a widely recognized engineering specialty rather than as an area that other engineering specialties, such as civil engineers, specialize in. More environmental engineers will be needed to comply with environmental regulations and to develop methods of cleaning up existing hazards. A shift in emphasis toward preventing problems rather than controlling those that already exist, as well as increasing public health concerns, also will spur demand for environmental engineers. However, political factors determine the job outlook for environmental engineers more than that for other engineers. Looser environmental regulations would reduce job opportunities; stricter regulations would enhance opportunities.
Even though employment of environmental engineers should be less affected by economic conditions than that of most other types of engineers, a significant economic downturn could reduce the emphasis on environmental protection, reducing employment opportunities. Environmental engineers need to keep abreast of a range of environmental issues to ensure their steady employment because their area of focus may change frequently for example, from hazardous waste cleanup to the prevention of water pollution.
Currently, the estimation of the average yearly earnings of mechanical engineers is around $66,000. The top engineers in the field can make more than $100,000 per year.