Overview

This is a thoroughly modern career choice and one that, with the rise of concern over environmental risks in industry and the future of the planet, is likely to be increasing in demand over the next 10-20 years.

The dictionary definition of the term ‘engineer’ is a person who designs, builds, maintains and controls engines or machines. An Environmental Engineer holds similar responsibilities but instead of machines, the control and maintenance is of our physical environment. Water quality, pollution, recycling, public health and soil science are just a few of the specialist topics that will be covered in the training.

To become an Environmental Engineer usually requires a degree specifically in Environmental Engineering and a further Master’s degree to progress to management level. So yes, this is one of the more demanding career choices in terms of qualifications, but in return it offers almost certain job security and the opportunity to work for local, state or federal government.

In addition to educational qualifications, Environmental Engineers must have very strong decision making skills, accurate analysis, the ability to present information in a wide range of formats and to a wide range of audiences, strong and confident communication skills and the ability to build and maintain outstanding working relationships. There is also a chance that some of the work undertaken may be of a confidential nature so a demonstrable ability to maintain discretion may be a significant advantage.

Pay

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has the median salary for Environmental Engineers at around $84,560 per year. Meanwhile, payscale.com, places it a little lower, at around $63,000 per year. The lowest figure,  generally those entry-level workers, is just under $50,000 per year. Applicants with more experience make upwards of a  hundred thousand dollars per year.

The environmental engineering profession is one where experience really pays, with workers with under five years of experience making $60-$70,000  a year,  workers with over 20 years of experience making over $100,000 a year, and those in-between with 10 to 20 years of experience making between $70-80,000 a year.

Environmental Engineer Salary Statistics

2016 Median Pay$84,560 per year
$40.65 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationBachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related OccupationNone
On-the-job TrainingNone
Number of Jobs, 201655,100
Job Outlook, 2014-2024+12%
Employment Change, 2014-2024+6,800
Sources: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics & Payscale

Industry Forecast

With the growing impacts of global climate change, ever increasing populations, greater demand for natural resources and development of new technologies, the demand for qualified Environmental Engineers will be greater than ever in coming years, particularly in regards to controlling pollution.

While a majority of Environmental Engineers work in architectural industries, they are also found in management, science, R&D and consulting subindustries around the world.

According to Environmental Science.org 26% of all Environmental Engineers find work for governments and governmental agencies. This breaks down to 13% in state government, 7% in federal government and 6% in local government in the United States. This profession is expected to grow at 15% from 2012 through 2022, which outpaces many similar professional fields.

With increased demands for energy, particularly in the western U.S., and the inevitable concerns for environmental protection while extracting resources such as oil and natural gas, domestic demand for experienced professionals is only expected to increase.

It is worth noting that because of the hands-on nature of this profession, and the regional location of work, this is a profession where the ability to travel is highly prized, so if possible, consider adding that willingness to your cover letter when applying for jobs out of your local area.

Types of Environmental Engineers

There are many different specialized subsets of Environmental Engineers. For example, some work for large multinational companies helping develop their Environmental Management System (EMS) and spend more time working with media than they do in the field. Additionally, there are more “hands on” job types that have engineers on work sites daily, assessing conditions and reporting back to offices.

For categorizations sake, the major “fields” of this profession can be broken down into Sustainable Engineering, Transport Engineering, Water Engineering, and Environmental Engineering. These are the subsets by which educational bodies break down the profession, even though there are dozens of more specialized subsets.

When job hunting, try to search for as specific as a title as possible. For example, when typing in keywords on Indeed or Monster, try using one of the above four fields, or a more specific description of your field to return more accurate results and thus increase your chances of landing a job quickly.

Sample Resume Download

Below is a sample of a professionally crafted an environmental engineer resume. You can use this resume as a starting point when writing your own personalized version.  Appropriate formatting, styling, fonts, and contents are what HR professionals expect of a properly written engineering resume.

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How To Write Your Own

Below are some specific tips for crafting your own resume from scratch and that will help you stand out from the competition when looking for your next job.

Document Styling

Engineering resumes are professional and should be moderately technical. This profession requires a strong emphasis on educational background and specialized work experience. For this reason, Environmental Engineering resumes are usually a bit on the longer side, which is an inevitable consequence of a particularly specialized resume.

Choose a conservative font. Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman,  or Book Antiqua are all acceptable. It may be worth trying to select a very subtly different font to help stand out should the reader be speed screening multiple applications. However, avoid overly stylized or casual looking fonts. These may be acceptable for more artistic/liberal arts oriented professions but are NOT acceptable for engineering professions.

Since this is an engineering resume, it is critical that you focus on quantified achievements and your educational experiences. While skills like communication skills are still valued, people hiring Environmental Engineers want to know if you actually have the qualifications and the industry knowledge required to perform the job correctly.

For example, listing project management experience is key as it shows  that you have the ability to delegate tasks, and orchestrate among teams to achieve objectives. Stating the size of the team  that you manage will give scope to your responsibilities as a leader.

Don’t try to get too fancy with your resume. As an Environmental Engineers have a very specific skillset, so the data  on your resume should be equally specific and not rambling. For these reasons, you should be able to fit your resume on one page unless you are a very senior-level applicant.

Sample Bullet Points To Use

Below are some freshly-written examples of bullet points specifically selected for those in the environmental engineering field.

Sample Environmental Engineer Bullet Points

Task
Design or supervise the design of systems, processes, or equipment for control, management, or remediation of water, air, or soil quality.
Advise corporations or government agencies of procedures to follow in cleaning up contaminated sites to protect people and the environment.
Collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians, engineers, experts in law or business, or other specialists to address environmental problems.
Obtain, update, or maintain plans, permits, or standard operating procedures.
Serve as liaison with federal, state, or local agencies or officials on issues pertaining to solid or hazardous waste program requirements.
Provide technical support for environmental remediation or litigation projects, including remediation system design or determination of regulatory applicability.
Prepare, review, or update environmental investigation or recommendation reports.
Develop site-specific health and safety protocols, such as spill contingency plans or methods for loading or transporting waste.
Inspect industrial or municipal facilities or programs to evaluate operational effectiveness or ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
Provide assistance with planning, quality assurance, safety inspection protocols, or sampling as part of a team conducting multimedia inspections at complex facilities.
Prepare or present public briefings on the status of environmental engineering projects.
Develop proposed project objectives and targets and report to management on progress in attaining them.
Coordinate or manage environmental protection programs or projects, assigning or evaluating work.
Advise industries or government agencies about environmental policies and standards.
Direct installation or operation of environmental monitoring devices or supervise related data collection programs.
Monitor progress of environmental improvement programs.
Prepare hazardous waste manifests or land disposal restriction notifications.
Assess the existing or potential environmental impact of land use projects on air, water, or land.
Prepare, maintain, or revise quality assurance documentation or procedures.
Assist in budget implementation, forecasts, or administration.
Provide environmental engineering assistance in network analysis, regulatory analysis, or planning or reviewing database development.
Inform company employees or other interested parties of environmental issues.
Develop or present environmental compliance training or orientation sessions.
Provide administrative support for projects by collecting data, providing project documentation, training staff, or performing other general administrative duties.
Assess, sort, characterize, or pack known or unknown materials.
Request bids from suppliers or consultants.
Develop, implement, or manage plans or programs related to conservation or management of natural resources.
Write reports or articles for Web sites or newsletters related to environmental engineering issues.

Career Objective

Writing a career objective or objective statement is all about being as specific to the job being applied for as possible. Never use the same objective for multiple position applications unless they are identical, which is rarely the case.

A simple but suitable objective for an Environmental Engineer might read something like:

Engineer with 7+ years of experience seeking an impactful position with Exxon Mobile to further develop an impactful EMS and grow the company’s sustainability initiatives.

Not all resumes will require an objective, however. If you are a recent graduate you should start your resume off with relevant coursework, since you lack professional experience. If you are a senior candidate, you may start your resume off with specialized skill sets or a professional summary.  The format of your resume will depend largely on your level of experience.

Additional Skills & Certifications

Aside from useful skills listed below, there is a breadth of licenses and certificates that Engineers can obtain to further increase their attractiveness to potential employers. These include:

Useful Skills to List

Below are some sample skills you can use when writing your own resume. However, be sure that you customize your skills to reflect your individual talents; including general skills which will help you stand out as much as unique skill sets will.

Useful Environmental Engineer Skills

SkillSkill Description
Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical ThinkingUsing logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Active LearningUnderstanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Complex Problem SolvingIdentifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.
MonitoringMonitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Judgment and Decision MakingConsidering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Time ManagementManaging one's own time and the time of others.
MathematicsUsing mathematics to solve problems.
CoordinationAdjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Social PerceptivenessBeing aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
PersuasionPersuading others to change their minds or behavior.
InstructingTeaching others how to do something.
NegotiationBringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Systems EvaluationIdentifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Learning StrategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
Service OrientationActively looking for ways to help people.
Systems AnalysisDetermining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Management of Personnel ResourcesMotivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
Operation MonitoringWatching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Quality Control AnalysisConducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Management of Material ResourcesObtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
Management of Financial ResourcesDetermining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
Operations AnalysisAnalyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
Operation and ControlControlling operations of equipment or systems.
TroubleshootingDetermining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Technology DesignGenerating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
ProgrammingWriting computer programs for various purposes.
Equipment SelectionDetermining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
InstallationInstalling equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
Equipment MaintenancePerforming routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
RepairingRepairing machines or systems using the needed tools.

Additional Resources

A collection of additional resources that will help you in preparation for obtaining your desired career in Engineering.

Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering Design (101)
Profiles of Professional Environment Engineers

Look into Life of a Professional Engineer Jeanette

Look into Life of Professional Engineer Marielle Thillet

Additional Societies & Professional Organizations

Being at the top of your game means being active in whatever professional community exists around your specialities. Consider looking up a community or society that has events in your state. This will look great on a resume and will also allow you to interact and get to know more similar-minded professionals which you can network with in the future. A few groups to look at include: