Environmental Engineer

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Bachelor's degree
High: $150,840.00
Average: $101,670.00
Average: $48.88

What they do:

Research, design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental hazards using various engineering disciplines. Work may include waste treatment, site remediation, or pollution control technology.

On the job, you would:

  • 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.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Environmental engineers must explain plans, specifications, findings, and other information both orally and in writing to technical and nontechnical audiences.

Creativity. Environmental engineers must be able to design systems that interact with the machinery and equipment components of a larger system.

Interpersonal skills. Environmental engineers coordinate with a variety of workers, such as the engineers and scientists who design systems and the technicians and mechanics who put systems into practice.

Math skills. Environmental engineers use calculus, trigonometry, and other math in their analysis, design, and troubleshooting work.

Problem-solving skills. Environmental engineers must identify and anticipate problems to design systems that prevent or mitigate environmental damage.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

90% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
85% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
80% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
80% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
80% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
68% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
68% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
67% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
66% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


100% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
61% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

78% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
78% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
78% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
67% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

78% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
75% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
75% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
75% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
72% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
69% Originality  -  The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
69% Fluency of Ideas  -  The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
69% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
66% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
66% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
66% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

66% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

Job Details

Prepare technical or operational reports.
Maintain operational records or records systems.
Maintain operational records or records systems.
Advise others regarding green practices or environmental concerns.
Monitor activities affecting environmental quality.
Inspect facilities or sites to determine if they meet specifications or standards.
Maintain operational records or records systems.
Train personnel on proper operational procedures.
Determine operational criteria or specifications.
Prepare operational reports.
Advise others regarding green practices or environmental concerns.
Advise others regarding green practices or environmental concerns.
Advise others regarding green practices or environmental concerns.
Investigate the environmental impact of projects.
Prepare project budgets.
Develop technical methods or processes.
Direct environmental development activities.
Confer with technical personnel to prepare designs or operational plans.
Prepare technical or operational reports.
Teach safety standards or environmental compliance methods.
Prepare detailed work plans.
Direct environmental development activities.
Test characteristics of materials or structures.
Package materials for transport.
Purchase materials, equipment, or other resources.
Assist engineers or scientists with research.
Design environmental control systems.
Direct environmental development activities.
Explain project details to the general public.
Write reports or evaluations.
Prepare research or technical reports on environmental issues.
Confer with other personnel to resolve design or operational problems.
Inspect facilities or sites to determine if they meet specifications or standards.
Maintain operational records or records systems.
Prepare procedural documents.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

99% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
93% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
91% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
82% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
80% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
75% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
74% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
74% Letters and Memos  -  How often does the job require written letters and memos?
70% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
69% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
69% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
67% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
82% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

87% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
86% 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.
82% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
81% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
77% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
77% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
76% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
76% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
76% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
73% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
72% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
72% Developing and Building Teams  -  Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
72% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
72% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
71% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
70% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
69% Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information  -  Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
68% Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others  -  Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
66% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

What Environmental Engineers Do

Environmental engineers
Environmental engineers design systems for managing and cleaning municipal water supplies.

Environmental engineers use engineering disciplines in developing solutions to problems of planetary health. Their work may involve concerns such as waste treatment, site remediation, and pollution control technology.


Environmental engineers typically do the following:

  • Prepare, review, update, and present reports on issues related to the environment
  • Design systems that protect the environment, such as those to reclaim water or to control air pollution
  • Obtain, update, and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures
  • Provide technical support for environmental remediation projects and for legal actions
  • Analyze scientific data and do quality-control checks
  • Monitor the progress of environmental improvement programs
  • Inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs to ensure compliance with environmental regulations
  • Advise corporations, government agencies, and other interested parties about environmental issues, including procedures for cleaning up contaminated sites

Environmental engineers work on a variety of projects. For example, they may conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate a hazard and advise on treating and containing it. They also design systems for municipal and industrial water supplies and wastewater treatment. In government, they may focus on prevention and compliance, such as researching the environmental impact of proposed construction projects or enforcing regulations for disposal of agricultural waste.

Some of these engineers study ways to minimize the effects of environmental threats such as acid rain, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion. They also collaborate with workers who focus on environmental sustainability and other issues, including environmental scientists and specialists, hazardous materials removal workers, lawyers, and urban and regional planners.

Work Environment

Environmental engineers held about 47,300 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of environmental engineers were as follows:

Engineering services 28%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 20
State government, excluding education and hospitals 13
Federal government, excluding postal service 6
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 6

Environmental engineers may work both indoors, such as in an office setting, and outdoors, such as at a construction site. They sometimes travel to attend meetings or present research.

Work Schedules

Most environmental engineers work full time. They may need to work more than 40 hours per week, such as to monitor a project’s progress or to troubleshoot problems.

Getting Started

Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree

How to Become an Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers
A bachelor’s degree is needed to become an environmental engineer.

Environmental engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field, such as chemical, civil, or general engineering. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have gained practical experience in an internship or cooperative education program.


High school students interested in becoming an environmental engineer should take classes in chemistry, biology, physics, and math, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

Entry-level environmental engineering jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Programs usually include courses in subjects such as construction systems, engineering mechanics, and geochemistry and involve academic instruction, laboratory study, and fieldwork.

Some college and university programs offer cooperative education in which students gain practical experience while completing their studies. Students also may get relevant experience through internships or by volunteering in positions that focus on the environment.

Bachelor’s degree programs usually take 4 years, but some colleges and universities have 5-year engineering programs that lead to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

Employers often prefer to hire graduates of ABET-accredited engineering programs. A degree from an accredited program is usually necessary for engineers to become licensed.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level environmental engineers.

Experienced engineers may obtain a Professional Engineer (PE) license, which allows them to oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public.

State licensure generally requires a bachelor’s or higher degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, several years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on the PE exam.

Each state issues its own license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require engineers to take continuing education to keep their licenses.

After licensing, environmental engineers can earn board certification from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. This certification shows that an environmental engineer has expertise in one or more areas of specialization.

Some states require environmental engineers to have Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) certification. HAZWOPER certification includes training in health hazards, personal protective equipment, site safety, recognizing and identifying hazards, and decontamination. Refresher training may be required to maintain certification.


As engineers gain knowledge and experience, they take on more difficult projects and have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Some environmental engineers advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Others become engineering managers or project management specialists to direct and coordinate the activities of specific projects.

Job Outlook

Employment of environmental engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,400 openings for environmental engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Heightened public awareness of the hazards facing the environment is expected to support demand for environmental engineers. For example, these workers are expected to be needed to help design solutions to improve water and air quality amid growing concerns about pollution and the lack of access to clean drinking water across the country.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about environmental engineers, visit

American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES)

For more information about education for engineers, visit

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit


For more information about becoming licensed as a professional engineer, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of environmental engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Chemical engineers Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, physics, and engineering to design equipment and processes for manufacturing products such as gasoline, detergents, and paper.

Bachelor's degree $106,260
Civil engineers Civil Engineers

Civil engineers plan, design, and supervise the construction and maintenance of building and infrastructure projects.

Bachelor's degree $89,940
Environmental engineering technicians Environmental Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Environmental engineering technologists and technicians implement the plans that environmental engineers develop.

Associate's degree $50,980
Environmental scientists and specialists Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health.

Bachelor's degree $76,480
Hydrologists Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust.

Bachelor's degree $85,990
Natural sciences managers Natural Sciences Managers

Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists.

Bachelor's degree $144,440
project management specialists Project Management Specialists

Project management specialists coordinate the budget, schedule, staffing, and other details of a project.

Bachelor's degree $95,370

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

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