Environmental Engineer

Public health careers have the unique ability to combine a number of disciplines into careers which address public wellbeing through different avenues of cause and effect.  As much as medical services and healthcare can contribute to community wellness, the actions and responsibility of members within the community can also have an effect.  Environmental concerns are not just in regards to the natural eco-system, but also to how pollution and geography can influence public health.

Environmental engineers are able to look at all the factors of a municipality and strive to seek a beneficial outcome for both people and the natural setting.  This career path is one of the many in the growing sectors of public health, and can provide a satisfying job setting with all of the employment stability that the healthcare field has to offer.

What Is An Environmental Engineer?

An environmental engineer is a public health scientist who studies nature and communities to determine future outcomes and impacts on one to the other.  This job includes monitoring changes over time and keeping track of chemicals that are naturally or artificially present in the water, air, and soil.  The focus of this job is to protect public health by also protecting the environment, and to create supportive structures which are protective to the land and the community.  Many environmental engineers are employed through the Army Corps of Engineers, but local public health departments also utilize this position for projects such as urban renewal, land conservation, and environmental health monitoring.

An environmental engineer will be required to perform a number of tasks both in the field and with the community:

  •   Create and review reports on environmental concerns and investigations.
  •   Design facilities that can more optimally process waste from the water, air, or land.
  •   Develop alternative solutions for high pollution industries.
  •   Monitoring the impact that communities have on the environment.
  •   Implement community procedures to cut down on waste and pollution.
  •   Ensure that industries, businesses, and construction does not pose a threat to the environment and the community.
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As an environmental engineer, personal qualities that may be developed to aid in job performance can include:

  •   Scientific analysis:  You will be required to deduce outcomes from the information that you gather in the field and about community behaviors.
  •   Developing solution plans:  As an environmental engineer, you will need to come up with feasible plans of action that will benefit both the public and the environment in terms of health and safety concerns. 
  •   Recording data:  You will need to keep detailed and accurate record of your observations and findings so that you can identify trends that could influence both the environment and the public. 
  •   Assessing impacts:  You will need to address any adverse impacts that a community is having on the environment and consider these long term effects.  This will also include future predictions about environmental trends that could affect public health.
  •   Interpersonal skills:  You will need to be able to interact with policy makers and the community in order to implement solution strategies.  This can include good communication skills and the ability to educate people about consequences.

Nature Of The Work

Environmental engineer spend much of their time engaged in field work.  This can include working outdoors to gather samples and monitor rainfall as well as inspecting industrial and building locations that could change the balance of community and environment.  Some time will be spent engaged in lab work and analyzing samples, as well as writing reports and developing strategies for public welfare.  Many environmental engineers also work in conjunction with universities and other researchers in order to collaborate on information finding and solutions.

As an environmental engineer, you may also be required to attend local or state legislative hearings that can impact land use, water and air quality, as well as environmental and public health.  You would be required to present your findings and solutions at such events in order to influence laws, health, and building codes.  On a community level, you may also be asked to educate the community about proposed changes and plans which can impact the public or require public participation.

Education And Training

If you are interested in becoming an environmental engineer you will need a minimum of a Bachelor degree, although graduate and post-graduate degrees are considered highly when applying for this job.  A degree in engineering, environmental studies, or biology is preferable, although applicants who have a background in the latter two subjects may need to get licensed as an engineering as well.

The licensing process begins with graduation from an nationally accredited engineering program, and the subsequent passing of both the Fundamentals of Engineering and the Professional Engineering exam.  Many of these courses will also provide experiential training, but internships are also acceptable for hands on learning.

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This career is seeing an above average demand, especially as population growth creates the need for expanded communities.  It is expected that in the next ten years, employment opportunities for environmental engineers will increase by 15%.  This offers a high rate of advancement as well as strong job stability.

The salary for environmental engineers has a national average of around $80,000 per year.  Entry level is closer to $50,000 and advancement and higher education can raise it up to $110,000 per year.  This offers a great incentive to become involved in the environment, for the promotion of public health and personal wellbeing.

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