Environmental engineers apply the principles of biology, chemistry, and computer science to directly address the world''s most pressing environmental concerns, from water erosion to waste disposal. With worsening climate conditions and more frequent natural disasters, the work that environmental engineers perform is becoming increasingly important. They manage hazardous waste, design more fuel-efficient cars, develop alternative sources of energy, and manufacture safer packaging materials. In essence, they spearhead a host of important initiatives with the aim of combating climate change in an increasingly overpopulated world.
Environmental Engineering Degrees
If you are interested in becoming an environmental engineer, a bachelor''s degree is usually the minimum education you need. Certain jobs and research positions actually require graduate training in the field. And if you plan on working at the local, state, or federal levels, you might need licensure and certification before you can begin practicing professionally. You should check with your local government to see what types of exams and requirements apply. Coursework typically includes the traditional biology, earth science, and chemistry fields you might expect. But given the environment''s growing importance in the political arena, you might consider adding courses in public policy, political activism, urban planning, and political science to your degree. And for long-term career growth, consider the benefits of graduate training in the field. The extra hours you put in today could prove extremely beneficial both to your career and to the world.
Online Career Training
While it is possible to complete the bulk of your training via online learning, much of your coursework focuses on laboratory testing and hands-on experience. So if you explore online degrees as an option, be prepared to supplement your theoretical career training with apprenticeships and on-site seminars.
Career Outlook in Environmental Engineering
In 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on 54,000 environmental engineers in the field. But through 2016, this number is expected to increase by 25 percent, which makes it the fastest growing engineering subcategory. And these predictions exist in the absence of global catastrophes. If the world''s oil supply plummets suddenly or if a series of natural disasters arrive simultaneously, demand for those with environmental engineering degrees could exceed even the current estimates.
If that happens, then the current median salary of $70,000 a year might climb substantially. But even without dizzying demand and attractive salaries, many environmental engineers enjoy a level of fulfillment that other careers may not. Environmental engineers focus on urgent matters of security, safety, and health. Equally enticing, they spend much of their time outdoors in a variety of locations.