5 Useful Tips for Becoming an Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers are anticipated to increase by 4% between 2020 and 2030. Every year, on average, there will be about 4,000 job openings.

If you are passionate about environmental issues, this might be the right career for you. However, you need to know the job description, education, and training requirements.

In this blog post, we will share useful tips for becoming an environmental engineer.

What’s Environmental Engineering?

Environmental engineering is a branch of environmental science. It deals with the protection, restoration, and conservation of environmental resources. It also involves planning, designing, construction supervision, or management for environmental projects.

An environmental engineer needs to understand issues related to natural habitats and human activity. They can then use this knowledge to protect our planet’s ecosystem from degradation.

The scope includes areas like water supply and sanitation, waste treatment and disposal systems, etc.

A career in environmental engineering offers good job opportunities with:

  • Environmental science firms
  • Consulting engineering companies
  • Environmental protection agencies

So what do you need to become an environmental engineer?

Bachelors Degree in Environmental Studies

A bachelor’s degree is the fundamental requirement for becoming an environmental engineer. You will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from any reputable university.

A strong foundation in chemistry, biology, geography, mathematics, and physics is required. This ensures that future engineers possess well-rounded knowledge about environmental resources.

By the time you graduate, you should be able to show your skills through relevant projects. This will help you secure a good job.

What does environmental engineering at the bachelor’s level comprise of?

Environmental engineers will be studying topics like:

  • Environmental design
  • Hazardous waste management
  • Environmental law and regulations,
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Environmental impact assessment studies

These are relevant to their day-to-day job tasks in an environmental firm or a consulting company.

Pass the Fundamental of Engineering Exam

In environmental engineering, the fundamental engineering exam is also known as FE. At times, environmental engineers need to pass this test before getting a license.

FE is a comprehensive test that covers environmental and engineering topics. The exam is divided into four major parts:

  • General environmental engineering principles
  • Site evaluation techniques for environmental projects
  • Engineering mathematics and basic sciences
  • Environmental engineer tools like KHA

The environmental engineering principles part of the test covers:

  • Laws and ethics
  • Environmental impact assessment studies
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Air pollution control

The site evaluation techniques section covers construction safety procedures used in environmental projects. The ability to understand complex topics related to natural habitats is important here. You also need to understand how humans can cause damage through their activities.

Mathematical knowledge needed for this course includes linear algebra and numerical methods. These are essential when it comes to solving problems related to large sets of data.

In addition, you need a basic understanding of meteorology. Weather conditions play an important role in various environmental processes. It helps engineers to decide the right environmental treatment method for a specific location.

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) conducts this exam. However, it’s not mandatory to take this test to become an environmental engineer.

In some states, environmental engineers need to pass the FE exam. In others, they don’t have to take this test at all.

It is a good idea for environmental engineering students to register for this examination in their last year of college. If they pass the test, it will be easier for them to get environmental jobs.

However, they should check with their states about environmental licensing standards.

Get an Internship or Entry-Level Role

Employers will look for environmental engineers with bachelor’s degrees. However, to get ahead in your career quickly, you can consider getting an internship. Or an entry-level role while studying at the undergraduate level.

Getting real-world experience is essential here. It provides valuable knowledge about environmental work practices used by organizations today. In addition, internships offer students opportunities to network with other professionals.

This type of networking helps them secure better jobs down the road. As this field is highly specialized, it’s important to get hands-on experience.

Internship or entry-level roles for environmental engineers include:

  • Wastewater treatment plant operator
  • Environmental inspector
  • Air pollution control engineer
  • Onsite wastewater facility consultant
  • Recycling specialist/industrial hygienist
  • Water quality analyst and technician
  • Safety officer

All these offer excellent opportunities to students who have just graduated from college. In addition, they provide a good first-hand look at the work environment.

Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam

The environmental engineering principles and practices exam is also called PE. This test represents the first part of a two-part examination conducted by NCEES for licensure.

PE license is necessary if you want to practice environmental engineering in the US. Upon completing this test, they will be able to work as licensed environmental professionals across all states.

NCEES conducts the PE exam at Prometric testing centers located throughout the country.

A license number is issued to environmental engineers who pass the PE exam. This number lets employers verify your credentials in a few seconds.

Get a Graduate Degree

Those who want to specialize in environmental engineering can get a graduate degree. It helps them increase their job prospects and move up the corporate ladder faster.

Graduate degrees are available at universities offering environmental engineering programs through:

  • Distance learning
  • Online classes
  • Traditional campus-based programs

The course content of these may vary depending on your study level.

For example:

Master’s degree in environmental science includes courses like:

  • Environmental chemistry
  • Climate change mitigation strategies
  • Energy conservation technologies

Ph.D. in environmental studies covers topics related to:

  • Hazardous waste management
  • Water policy analysis
  • Environmental law

These graduate degrees give students a greater depth of environmental knowledge. In addition, they provide better career opportunities.

Become an Environmental Engineer Today

Environmental engineering is a fulfilling occupation. You’ll be helping others make this world a better place to live in.

However, environmental engineering jobs are competitive. To be successful, you need to have good academic qualifications. Also, get hands-on experience related to environmental work practices.

We hope these tips for environmental engineers help you become an environmental engineer. For more interesting content, keep reading our articles.

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