Environmental engineering is the synthesis of both science and engineering principles that aims to design and develop credible resolutions to aid the existing and recurring environmental problems like pollution and natural resources degradation for the sake of public health, human and animal habitation and general welfare. They combine the principle of science, biology, engineering and chemistry to provide solutions to the environmental problems the world is currently facing. They also aim to improve the condition of natural environmental resources such as the air, water and land. Through the thorough study of environmental engineering, engineers are able to come up with plausible solutions that involve air, water and land pollution control, waste water management, recycling, and proper waste disposal and many others.
The scope of environmental engineering is very broad in a sense. This is why environmental engineers can have their own area of specialty. Environmental engineering can be categorically subdivided into smaller scopes namely:
- Solid waste management
- Water waste management
- Water supply and treatment management
- Pollution management
- Global warming management
- Radiation management
- Industrial hygiene management
- Public health management
Environmental Engineers on the Move
Environmental engineers are typically involved in major projects may it be for private engineering firms or for the local, federal and state government. Normally, one may find environmental engineers working on a field doing site surveying, ocular inspections and planning, designing and implementing projects to promote environmental protection and formulate regulations to protect the environment to hazardous industrial mishaps.
Other tasks include:
- To study the hazardous effects of the advancement of technology to the environment.
- Designing of water and solid waste treatment and management facilities for buildings, manufacturing industries, residential and commercial establishments and the like.
- Research and planning of effective ways to effectively reduce all sorts of pollution.
- Developing more effective approach to recycling and increasing the efficiency of disposal of wastes.
- Developing ways to minimize the contributing factors to global warming and to minimize its effects to the environment.
- Studying the effects of fossil fuels and other natural gases like methane gas to the environment and the community.
- Giving orientation and basic seminars to the public about the effects of natural minerals and resources to their health and the quality of their living.
Environmental engineers work hand in hand with other professionals to push their advocacy to protect the environment. Typically, one may see environmental engineers work together with civil engineers, mechanical and chemical engineers in various projects.
Environmental engineers need to have at least graduate of a bachelor’s degree of environmental engineering. Some major areas of environmental engineering are covered by the curriculum of civil engineering and chemical engineering. Chemical and civil engineers, therefore, can certify themselves as environmental engineers to some extent covered by the certification board of environmental engineers.
The basic academic curriculum for environmental engineers is comprised in five-year program plus additional units for internship, trainings and seminars. After finishing the bachelor’s degree, environmental engineering graduate can take up licensure exam. Though license is not compulsory, most of the companies prefer applicants with license. Furthermore, licensed environmental engineers have better chances of travelling for overseas assignments and compensated better than non-licensed.
Master’s degree can also be taken up whether simultaneously with getting licensure, after finishing bachelor’s degree or after taking up licensure exam. Companied opts environmental engineers to have master’s degree most especially on the latter part of the career when advanced accreditation is needed. Also, people opting to teach the principle of environmental engineering needs to have master’s degree to pursue teaching career.
People living in Texas have a long list of colleges and universities to choose from that offer both bachelor and master’s degree in environmental engineering. Some even offer doctor’s degree to people pursuing the degree for better employment placement and compensation. Below is the list of schools offering environmental engineering course and degree:
- Lamar University (TX)
- Prairie View A&M University (TX)
- Rice University (TX)
- Southern Methodist University (TX)
- Tarleton State University (TX)
- Texas A&M University, College Station (TX)
- Texas A&M University, Kingsville (TX)
- Texas Tech University (TX)
- University of Houston (TX)
- University of Texas, Arlington (TX)
- University of Texas, Austin (TX)
- University of Texas, El Paso (TX)
- University of Texas, San Antonio (TX)
Job Outlook and Salary Overview for Environmental Engineers
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2010 the average income of environmental engineers was about $ 78,740 annually. As per record, industries employing median annual wage environmental engineers include the federal government, architectural and engineering firms, local government, technical consultancy firms and state government. The good news is that environmental engineers work full time. Program managers often work more than 40 hours a week due to the demand of on-site engineers.
Environmental engineering career, amongst all other occupations, has a faster projected growth from 2010 to 2020. As per study, there is a projected 22% growth in the job vacancies for all aspiring and experienced environmental engineers.
The reason for an increase demand in environmental engineers is due to the current condition of the water supplies and the need for more solid and water waste management facilities in every state. The local and federal government focuses on increasing the efficiency of tap water to make it potable for domestic and industrial purposes. Since the pollution and global warming is very much affecting every natural resources, state government needs dedicated environmental engineers to effectively reduce the effect of these phenomenon to the general welfare.
Aside from the local, federal and state government of Texas, private engineering and consultation firms also hire services of environmental engineers for their projects. Some of the available positions include soil scientists, waste water management facility engineer, senior air quality consultant, environmental management information specialists, FOG system manager, environmental geologists, corporate EHSS manager and many more. Most companies can be found in Houston, Beaumont, Arlington, Corpus Christi, Alvin and Midland, Texas.