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Is it worth earning higher than a bachelor's when pursuing a career in environmental engineering?

I plan to get a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering for sure, but would it be worth the time, money($40K/yr at the school I am looking at), and effort to work towards a master's or PhD?
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I was an environmental engineer for 35 years, most of which was in managerial positions. I only had a BSE. Most of the environmental managers I knew did not have Master's degree in Environmental studies. In my experience, an MBA was more useful. I'd recommend getting your BSE, and get into the field and get an MBA. This should help you into more responsible positions and also, I've seen the combination of a BSE and MBA get and environmental manager into the main corporate advancement path. I had such an offer myself, and I didn't have the MBA. Ergo, I recommend you finish your environmental BSE, and get an MBA while you are getting your on the job experience. Donald Windeler

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Peter’s Answer


In my 42 years as a Civil Engineer, working almost exclusively for large consulting firms, my experience was somewhat different from that of Mr. Windeler (above). The Environmental Engineers that I encountered frequently had masters degrees. This is a complex field and such an advanced degree certainly enhances your career. It will definitely accelerate your salary, although I don't know if this will actually "pay" for the extra 12-18 months of graduate school. But if you want the best opportunities in this Field, I do not hesitate to recommend you get a masters degree.

It is common for engineers, a bit later in their careers (perhaps five years), to obtain an MBA and this would enhance your opportunity for project management and perhaps major partnership in an engineering firm.

Good luck, Pete Sturtevant, PE

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Chumphol’s Answer

I suggest you work for few years before getting Master. I used to continue my Master right after Bachelor, lacking the real life business experience will make the study less effective. Then you can decide later if you want to continue your Master or PhD.

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Sarah Beth’s Answer

Hi Abigail,
I have a bachelor's and master's degree in Chemical Engineering. I would advise you to go for the master's degree! It only takes a couple of years and you will have more opportunities for higher-paying jobs when you get out. You will typically have to do graduate research and this is a good way to get some experience and expertise under your belt before you start looking for work. As for the doctoral degree, my observation has been that students who get PhDs are often interested in research (as opposed to industry) when they finish. If you are thinking about pursuing a career in research then this may be a valuable credential to have on your resume.