Environmental Engineer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An Environmental Engineer, or Environmental Engineering Specialist, is responsible for using environmental science principles to improve public health, reduce pollution and remove environmental hazards from the community. Their duties include collecting environmental samples and data, performing land assessments and designing systems to safely eliminate waste.

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Environmental Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

 Depending on your experience, tasks for Environmental Engineers may include:

  • Land assessments for industrial, commercial or residential sites for environmental impact if someone were to build on that site
  • Use of specialized equipment to test soil, water and air of a construction area
  • Improve waste management system design
  • Reclamation and disposal of air, water and land 
  • Find better solutions for site cleanup on a construction site
  • Evaluate current systems and design innovative ways to improve or replace the existing systems or processes
  • Field observation and field sample collections
  • Investigate, record and compile reports for environmental-related complaints
  • Pollution-control and waste treatment planning
  • Develop guidelines for the disposal of hazardous materials
  • Act as a regulatory arm for a companies compliance with waste disposal and management

What Does an Environmental Engineer Do?

Environmental Engineers typically work for environmental consulting agencies and public works departments to coordinate waste management. They implement systems for protecting water and air quality, preserving land and removing contamination. Environmental Engineers observe sites for future construction, produce reports on environmental impact and make recommendations for how to safely conduct large-scale projects. Environmental Engineers design regulatory controls for communities to use when working with potentially hazardous materials. They coordinate soil, water and air quality testing and train public works staff on how to use specialized equipment.

Environmental Engineer Skills and Qualifications

A successful Environmental Engineer candidate will have various prerequisite skills/qualifications needed to complete their duties, such as:

  • Problem-solving skills in order to find the right solutions to environmental issues like waste disposal and hazardous water
  • Interpersonal skills, as you will be working with different entities for the common good of the community
  • Strong engineering background
  • Planning and organization skills
  • A general interest in the environment and the desire to help make it better

Environmental Engineer Salary Expectations

The average salary for an Environmental Engineer is $75,832 per year in the United States. Salary estimates are based on 626 salaries submitted anonymously to Indeed by Environmental Engineer employees, users and collected from past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months. The typical tenure for an Environmental Engineer is less than one year. 

Environmental Engineer Education and Training Requirements

Environmental Engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. While there are degrees for Ecological Engineers, some may get a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, chemical engineering or general engineering. A degree from an ABET-accredited program will combine a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as well as a continuing education path to getting licensed. Entry-level engineers will usually take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. After an entry-level engineer gains about four years of experience, they are eligible to take the Professional Engineering (PE) exam. This is the typical licensure for an Environmental Engineer.

Environmental Engineer Experience Requirements

Typical experience requirements include the degree from an ABET-accredited program as mentioned above, as well as a passing score on the FE (Fundamentals of Engineer) exam. If coming into a more senior position, employers look to see if you have your PE (Professional Engineering) license and other relevant experience. Experience may include working in the architecture, engineering and construction industry or with a federal or local government entity.

Job Description Samples for Similar Positions

If this is not what you are looking for, Indeed has other job description samples available. There are additional degrees that can branch into environmental engineering that may be more suited for your job opening. These include: 

Frequently asked questions about Environmental Engineers

 

What is the difference between an Environmental Engineer and an Environmental Scientist?

Environmental Engineers and Environmental Scientists both hold key roles in protecting and preserving our ecosystem and atmosphere. Like other Scientists, Environmental Scientists chiefly work in a lab environment designing and running tests, examining samples and analyzing data to confirm or refute a hypothesis. Environmental Engineers, on the other hand, use scientific data to inform their designs and action plans for correcting environmental issues. The two roles often work closely together when restoring a community’s pollution levels, with the Environmental Scientist making recommendations that the Environmental Engineer implements using mathematical and engineering principles.

 

What makes a good Environmental Engineer?

Good Environmental Engineers are passionate about protecting local ecosystems and making water, air and land resources accessible and useful to their community. They have a strong understanding of chemistry and physics which they use to innovate new solutions for waste management. Successful Environmental Engineers are tactful when dealing with complaints and know how to use active listening to learn about the needs and limitations of their community. They are also highly organized when keeping a schedule and assigning upkeep tasks to their team.

 

What are the daily duties of an Environmental Engineer?

Environmental Engineers generally split their time between working at a computer and collecting samples or overseeing projects in the field. During the day, they work on improving waste management systems and researching the logistics of implementing new procedures. They set safety standards for their team and instruct them on how to properly dispose of the trash, runoff and other pollution that they collect during environmental maintenance tasks. Environmental Engineers also investigate and respond to environmental complains on behalf of their company or municipality.

 

What are the types of Environmental Engineers?

Environmental Engineers often specialize in a particular type of environmental preservation by becoming a Water Project Engineer, an Environmental Safety Engineer, a Green Building Engineer or an Air Quality Engineer. Green Building Engineers consult on building construction to not only ensure the building process does not impact the environment, but that its ongoing operations are environmentally sustainable. Water Project Engineers exclusively work with pollution that impacts water quality and the development of water utility infrastructure and Air Quality Engineers focus on ensuring residents have clean air and can take precautions on bad air quality days.

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