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Career in environmental engineering – all you need to know

If you’re curious about a career in environmental engineering and want to learn where it can take you, you’re in the right spot to educate yourself on the subject. Environmental Engineering uses the knowledge of sciences and engineering principle from different domains i.e., biology, chemistry, ecology, geology, hydraulics, hydrology, mathematics and microbiology for the betterment of human being and improve the life on the planet. Environmental Engineer deal with the escalating problems face by world i.e., climate change, air pollution, solid waste management, water pollution, energy management and many more.

This was a traditional specialized field in the civil engineering called sanitary engineering until mid 1960s afterward the name changed to environmental engineering. This article delves into the multidisciplinary realm of environmental engineering, exploring its various aspects, career opportunities, educational requirements, and the impact of environmental engineers on the world.

What does an environmental engineer do?

Environmental engineering is the development of infrastructure and processes for the management of water air and soil pollution. Whereas environmental engineer’s (primary) responsibilities are to improve the public well-being by wastewater treatment, water recycling, solid waste management and controlling air pollution through different scientific principles, engineering expertise, and problem-solving skills.

What are the fields of environmental engineering?

Environmental Engineers work in various settings this could be an indoor job or either outdoor activity i.e., environmental engineering working with an urban planer will work in an office setting while environmental engineers working with the construction of wastewater treatment will work mostly outside of the office setting.

There are many environmental engineering jobs for environmental engineers can opt for each with distinct features and focus on different specific environmental challenges, some of prominent environmental engineering jobs are as follows

Sustainability engineer

Sustainability engineers lead the way in creating eco-friendly and energy-saving designs for buildings. They need to know about reusing things, recycling, and how pollution affects the environment. These engineers also with buildings and products that follow specific green rules, such as the BREEAM standards or LEED certifications.

Transportation planner

Transportation planners design routes that allow cars and people to safely transit from one location to another. They must often include environmental issues while determining possible threats to the transportation system. This might include things like neighboring waterways, steep hills or mountains, or even soil characteristics. Transportation planners use these characteristics to decide the appropriate materials and safety procedures to use when building highways and walking pathways.

Natural resource specialists

Natural resource specialists assess the amount of natural resources available in a given location and explore how various factors may impact their availability. They also assist in the development of laws for companies and industrial plants to guarantee that a healthy number of natural resources are maintained in a specific region. A bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, environmental science, or resource management is often required for natural resource professionals.

Environmental consultants

Environmental consultants provide advice on various environmental concerns. They help with understanding how new projects affect the environment, controlling pollution and noise, managing agriculture’s impact on nature, dealing with climate change effects, and handling waste and recycling.

Energy efficiency engineers

Energy Efficiency Engineers are experts who come up with ways to save energy and cut costs when designing, building, or renovating projects. Their main job is to make things more energy-efficient.

Wastewater engineer

wastewater plant engineers plan, design, and oversee the construction and operation of all processes and structures involved in the treatment, distribution, and collection of water and wastewater treatment.

EHS Engineer

Environmental health and safety engineers have the important task of ensuring that companies operate in ways that prioritize the safety of people and the environment. They work to establish and implement strategies that promote health and safety practices within the organization. Additionally, they play a key role in making sure that the company meets all the necessary regulations set by federal, state, and local authorities for safety, health, and the environment.

Green Building Engineer

A Green Building Engineer belongs to the larger field of Energy Engineers, excluding those focused-on wind and solar energy. These engineers specialize in designing, creating, or assessing projects and initiatives related to energy conservation. They aim to lower energy expenses and enhance energy efficiency, specifically in the stages of design, construction, and renovation.

Sustainability engineer

Sustainable engineering involves crafting and innovating products and systems that fulfill our requirements without causing harm to the environment or exhausting natural resources. Professionals in sustainable engineering concentrate on decreasing waste, adopting renewable energy options, curbing pollution, and establishing enduring, effective systems that can be cherished by generations to come.

Corporate Social Responsibility Specialist

The CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) professional is responsible for conceptualizing, planning, and executing initiatives that align with the company’s commitment to community development in harmony with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). This role involves working closely with various departments to drive and manage activities that promote sustainability and contribute to building a resilient future.

Environmental social governance Specialist

The Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Specialist is in charge of developing and implementing environmental, social, and corporate governance policies and procedures, as well as reviewing and evaluating the company’s operations to ensure they are socially and environmentally sustainable and adhere to all regulatory/required safeguarding policies and internationally recognized best practices.

Environmental compliance Specialist

An environmental compliance specialist or environmental compliance officer is responsible for making sure businesses, industries, communities and other entities obey laws and regulations that govern issues about the environment. With growing concerns about climate change and the impact of economic growth on the Earth, this field is rapidly growing, and many compliance specialist jobs are on the market.

Environmental Engineering vs. Environmental Science        

Despite both environmental scientists and environmental engineers working to prevent and solve environmental problems, one uses a close analysis of environmental data to get the job done, whereas the other is more involved in the design of technologies used to help protect our soil and water.

However, their strategies to enhancing and remediating the effects on the environment differ. The environmental scientist approaches the problem analytically. He or she is concerned with what created the specific issue, whereas the engineer is concerned with how to solve the problem. For example, the scientist investigates the causes and consequences of water pollution. The engineer uses the scientist’s findings to decide what steps must be taken to eliminate these contaminants.

Climate change, air pollution, water quality, soil contamination, and hazardous substances impacting humans and animals are all investigated by environmental scientists. They explore into a number of sectors that have an impact on the earth’s resources. As scientists, they collect drinking water or air samples for laboratory study. They deliver the results to engineers, the court of law, the local community, or governmental organizations.

Environmental engineers’ responsibilities overlap with those of other professionals. Engineers are also involved in the contamination of soil and water, air pollution, and wastewater treatment. Their expertise enables them to discover solutions to these negative environmental challenges. They decide how to clean polluted water, create sewage treatment systems, and minimize manufacturing emissions using engineering concepts.

Where do environmental engineers work?

There are many international and local environmental engineering career companies around the world some of the most famous companies are as follows


The abbreviation AECOM stands for Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations, and Maintenance, which pretty well sums up what the organization performs. Respected trade and professional bodies consistently vote for AECOM to be one of the finest firms in the business, boosting its already outstanding track record. Some of the company’s key environmental projects revolve around water, electricity, and transportation. One ongoing effort is assisting organizations all around the world in resolving issues related to PFASs, which do not degrade in the environment.

The firm is worldwide, operating on six continents, and its working practices are believed to be among the best in the world, making it an excellent employer.


SNC-Lavalin, another worldwide powerhouse, is a large consulting firm with operations on six continents. This Canadian organization collaborates with a wide range of stakeholders, including communities, corporations, and governments, to deliver high-quality consulting services for a variety of infrastructure, natural resources, and data initiatives.

Some of the company’s projects have included one in Canada to minimize atmospheric emissions and another in the United Kingdom to reduce CO2 emissions from the oil and gas industry. The organization places a strong emphasis on sustainability and understands the significance of altering how things are done now to ensure a good quality of life for future generations.

HDR, Inc.

Another well-known professional enterprise, HDR, Inc., is a popular choice for top employers for civil and environmental engineers. With operations on five continents, HDR provides engineering, design, and construction services and expertise to both private and public sector organizations. At HDR, large-scale projects such as dams, an entire waterway, and hazardous material facilities are the convention. When it comes to environmental activities, the organization has a number of exciting projects in the works, including renewable energy, waste management, and drinking water.


Jacobs is a global provider of architectural, construction, and engineering scientific, professional, and technical services. Jacobs, like the other corporations on this list, has many offices in various countries and operates on five continents. The firm serves a wide range of industrial, commercial, and government clients. Jacobs provides sustainable solutions in multiple categories of markets, including water, energy, and air.


Bechtel is a well-known name in the engineering, construction, and project management industries. The organization has a long history of success, having completed over 25,000 projects in 160 countries across all seven continents since 1898. That is a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience.

Bechtel’s market emphasis comprises environmental cleaning and management, sustainable energy, and waterworks. The firm has a long list of notable accomplishments, including attempting to contain the wrecked Chernobyl nuclear plant. Employees are held to high ethical standards, and the corporation provides continual training and leadership possibilities.

How to Become an Environmental Engineer

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from a licensed institution. As you advance in your major, courses will cover water treatment, pollution mitigation and control technologies, air quality management, and environmental rehabilitation.
  2. Consider completing further postgraduate study such as the Master of Engineering.
  3. Aim to secure an internship or placement while studying. This will provide you with valuable work experience.

Environmental engineering requirements

To pursue a degree in environmental engineering, you’ll typically need a high school diploma or its equivalent, like A-levels in the UK. However, it’s equally important to showcase a strong foundation in key subjects like mathematics, physics, and chemistry during the admissions process.

These subjects not only facilitate your admission to an environmental engineering program but also provide a solid groundwork for the challenging coursework ahead. As you progress in your studies, you’ll delve into specialized areas like wastewater treatment, air quality management, or sustainable energy systems. Your proficiency in mathematics, physics, and chemistry will prove invaluable in addressing real-world environmental issues and contributing to sustainable solutions.

Environmental engineering scope

Environmental engineering career offers a fulfilling and impactful career path. With increasing global awareness of environmental issues, the demand for skilled environmental engineers is on the rise. This career provides an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the world by addressing critical challenges and contributing to a sustainable future.

How long does it take to get a degree in environmental engineering?

A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete. A master’s degree, often pursued for specialized roles or research, takes an additional one to two years. The pursuit of a Ph.D. in environmental engineering can take three to five years or more, depending on the research undertaken.

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