What Does an Environmental Engineer Do?

Environmental engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and biology to identify and address humanity's negative impact on the natural world. Read on to find out more about environmental engineers. Schools offering Energy Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

Your focus as an environmental engineer is to detect and solve environmental problems that can affect the safety and natural integrity of air, water, and land. According to the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists, your responsibilities may include pollution control, solid waste management, and hazardous materials control (www.aaees.org). By performing these duties, you not only help protect the environment, but you also help support and maintain public health standards.

Air Pollution Control

As an environmental engineer, you might be tasked with preventing and repairing various types of air pollution. For example, you may conduct research to find ways of removing contaminants and dangerous emissions from the air. Your duties could also include monitoring air pollution production and dispersal rates.

Water Reclamation

Your expertise can also include developing methods of water conservation and reclamation. This may include creating artificial wetlands and decontaminating water for consumption. You might also specialize in wastewater or storm water management. As such, your responsibilities could include designing new municipal water treatment facilities or managing an existing system.

Land Preservation

In the field of solid waste disposal, you design and upgrade recycling facilities and landfills. For example, you might develop new technologies to capture methane from capped landfills for use in green power plants. You may also work with real estate developers and civil engineers to determine any potential environmental impacts caused by development and municipal-growth projects.

Hazardous Material Management

As an environmental engineer, you may be responsible for controlling hazardous or toxic materials. This can include minimizing the environmental impact of radiation and hazardous chemicals. You may also develop ways to remediate areas damaged by hazardous spills or research ways to neutralize toxic materials before disposal.

Career Outlook and Salary Info

The employment of environmental engineers is projected to grow at an average pace between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), which predicted that jobs will increase by about 15% during the decade. Environmental engineers earned a median salary of $82,220 a year in 2013, per the BLS, which noted that those working for oil and gas extraction companies earned the highest annual wage, averaging $132,970.

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