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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSxcetMCZZ0.
Quick Facts: Environmental Engineers
2022 Median Pay $96,530 per year
$46.41 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 47,300
Job Outlook, 2022-32 6% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 2,900

What Environmental Engineers Do

Environmental engineers use engineering disciplines in developing solutions to problems of planetary health.

Work Environment

Environmental engineers work both in an office setting and in the field. Most work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become an Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field, such as civil, chemical, or general engineering. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have gained practical experience in an internship or a cooperative education program.

Pay

The median annual wage for environmental engineers was $96,530 in May 2022.

Job Outlook

Employment of environmental engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,400 openings for environmental engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for environmental engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of environmental engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about environmental engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Environmental Engineers Do About this section

Environmental engineers
Environmental engineers design systems for managing and cleaning municipal water supplies.

Environmental engineers use engineering disciplines in developing solutions to problems of planetary health. Their work may involve concerns such as waste treatment, site remediation, and pollution control technology.

Duties

Environmental engineers typically do the following:

  • Prepare, review, update, and present reports on issues related to the environment
  • Design systems that protect the environment, such as those to reclaim water or to control air pollution
  • Obtain, update, and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures
  • Provide technical support for environmental remediation projects and for legal actions
  • Analyze scientific data and do quality-control checks
  • Monitor the progress of environmental improvement programs
  • Inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs to ensure compliance with environmental regulations
  • Advise corporations, government agencies, and other interested parties about environmental issues, including procedures for cleaning up contaminated sites

Environmental engineers work on a variety of projects. For example, they may conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate a hazard and advise on treating and containing it. They also design systems for municipal and industrial water supplies and wastewater treatment. In government, they may focus on prevention and compliance, such as researching the environmental impact of proposed construction projects or enforcing regulations for disposal of agricultural waste.

Some of these engineers study ways to minimize the effects of environmental threats such as acid rain, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion. They also collaborate with workers who focus on environmental sustainability and other issues, including environmental scientists and specialists, hazardous materials removal workers, lawyers, and urban and regional planners.

Work Environment About this section

Environmental engineers
Environmental engineers work with other engineers and with urban and regional planners.

Environmental engineers held about 47,300 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of environmental engineers were as follows:

Engineering services 28%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 20
State government, excluding education and hospitals 13
Federal government, excluding postal service 6
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 6

Environmental engineers may work both indoors, such as in an office setting, and outdoors, such as at a construction site. They sometimes travel to attend meetings or present research.

Work Schedules

Most environmental engineers work full time. They may need to work more than 40 hours per week, such as to monitor a project’s progress or to troubleshoot problems.

How to Become an Environmental Engineer About this section

Environmental engineers
A bachelor’s degree is needed to become an environmental engineer.

Environmental engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field, such as chemical, civil, or general engineering. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have gained practical experience in an internship or cooperative education program.

Education

High school students interested in becoming an environmental engineer should take classes in chemistry, biology, physics, and math, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

Entry-level environmental engineering jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Programs usually include courses in subjects such as construction systems, engineering mechanics, and geochemistry and involve academic instruction, laboratory study, and fieldwork.

Some college and university programs offer cooperative education in which students gain practical experience while completing their studies. Students also may get relevant experience through internships or by volunteering in positions that focus on the environment.

Bachelor’s degree programs usually take 4 years, but some colleges and universities have 5-year engineering programs that lead to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

Employers often prefer to hire graduates of ABET-accredited engineering programs. A degree from an accredited program is usually necessary for engineers to become licensed.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level environmental engineers.

Experienced engineers may obtain a Professional Engineer (PE) license, which allows them to oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public.

State licensure generally requires a bachelor’s or higher degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, several years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on the PE exam.

Each state issues its own license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require engineers to take continuing education to keep their licenses.

After licensing, environmental engineers can earn board certification from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. This certification shows that an environmental engineer has expertise in one or more areas of specialization.

Some states require environmental engineers to have Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) certification. HAZWOPER certification includes training in health hazards, personal protective equipment, site safety, recognizing and identifying hazards, and decontamination. Refresher training may be required to maintain certification.

Advancement

As engineers gain knowledge and experience, they take on more difficult projects and have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Some environmental engineers advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Others become engineering managers or project management specialists to direct and coordinate the activities of specific projects.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Environmental engineers must explain plans, specifications, findings, and other information both orally and in writing to technical and nontechnical audiences.

Creativity. Environmental engineers must be able to design systems that interact with the machinery and equipment components of a larger system.

Interpersonal skills. Environmental engineers coordinate with a variety of workers, such as the engineers and scientists who design systems and the technicians and mechanics who put systems into practice.

Math skills. Environmental engineers use calculus, trigonometry, and other math in their analysis, design, and troubleshooting work.

Problem-solving skills. Environmental engineers must identify and anticipate problems to design systems that prevent or mitigate environmental damage.

Pay About this section

Environmental Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2022

Engineers

$100,030

Environmental engineers

$96,530

Total, all occupations

$46,310

 

The median annual wage for environmental engineers was $96,530 in May 2022. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $150,840.

In May 2022, the median annual wages for environmental engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service $111,590
Engineering services 97,740
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 95,360
State government, excluding education and hospitals 87,710
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 80,560

Most environmental engineers work full time. They may need to work more than 40 hours per week, such as to monitor a project’s progress or to troubleshoot problems.

Job Outlook About this section

Environmental Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Engineers

7%

Environmental engineers

6%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of environmental engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,400 openings for environmental engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Heightened public awareness of the hazards facing the environment is expected to support demand for environmental engineers. For example, these workers are expected to be needed to help design solutions to improve water and air quality amid growing concerns about pollution and the lack of access to clean drinking water across the country.

Employment projections data for environmental engineers, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Environmental engineers

17-2081 47,300 50,200 6 2,900 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of environmental engineers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2022 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Chemical engineers Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, physics, and engineering to design equipment and processes for manufacturing products such as gasoline, detergents, and paper.

Bachelor's degree $106,260
Civil engineers Civil Engineers

Civil engineers plan, design, and supervise the construction and maintenance of building and infrastructure projects.

Bachelor's degree $89,940
Environmental engineering technicians Environmental Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Environmental engineering technologists and technicians implement the plans that environmental engineers develop.

Associate's degree $50,980
Environmental scientists and specialists Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health.

Bachelor's degree $76,480
Hydrologists Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust.

Bachelor's degree $85,990
Natural sciences managers Natural Sciences Managers

Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists.

Bachelor's degree $144,440
project management specialists Project Management Specialists

Project management specialists coordinate the budget, schedule, staffing, and other details of a project.

Bachelor's degree $95,370

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about environmental engineers, visit

American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES)

For more information about education for engineers, visit

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

For more information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

For more information about becoming licensed as a professional engineer, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

CareerOneStop

For a career video on environmental engineers, visit

Environmental Engineers

O*NET

Environmental Engineers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Environmental Engineers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/environmental-engineers.htm (visited February 14, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 6, 2023

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2022 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2022, the median annual wage for all workers was $46,310.