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Environmental Engineering Overview - Preparation - Day In The Life -
Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations

Day in the Life
Environmental engineers develop ways to solve problems related to the environment.  They are involved in both local and global environmental protection efforts such as air and water pollution control, recycling, and waste disposal.

Job Duties
Environmental engineers' job duties include collecting soil or groundwater samples and testing them for contamination; designing municipal sewage and industrial wastewater systems; analyzing scientific data; researching controversial projects; and performing quality control checks.  They may be involved in legal or financial consulting regarding environmental processes or issues.  They may study and attempt to minimize the effects of large-scale problems such as acid rain, global warming, and ozone depletion.

Many environmental engineers work as consultants, helping their clients comply with regulations and the cleanup of hazardous waste sites.  One emphasis in environmental engineering consulting is on brownfields -- land areas that are abandoned because of contamination by hazardous substances.  Environmental engineers help clients clean up the brownfields for reuse in place of premium land, minimizing the liabilities and the costs of infrastructure or building projects.

The Workplace
The type of job environmental engineers have often determines whether they work inside or outside.  However, most work inside a majority of the time.  Environmental engineers whose tasks require site visits -- for purposes such as collecting samples, checking quality control, and investigating sites for possible contamination -- spend at least part of their time away from the office.  Site visits are more likely to take environmental engineers to unpleasant surroundings than to pristine ones, but they also give engineers a chance to turn theory into reality.  And, working outside the office allows some environmental engineers to interact with people their work affects.

Teams and Coworkers
Almost all jobs in engineering require some sort of interaction with coworkers. Whether they are working in a team situation, or just asking for advice, most engineers have to have the ability to communicate and work with other people. Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail-oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are important because engineers often interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.



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