I followed a very similar career path (as you intend to) in the 1970s. After graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Biology, I became very interested in the Field of Water Resources. I enrolled in a Masters Degree Program in the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Washington. I worked five quarters to earn my degree. This included a Thesis research project for which I wrote and defended a thesis paper. I very much recommend that you take the research paper route (as opposed to a mere examination) for your Masters Degree. Although more difficult, You gain very valuable experience in independent research and writing following this route. It also looks a lot better on your resume
Water Resources is a vast Field. It was in great demand when I started. If anything, there is an even greater need, currently. So I would expect that your employment opportunities after you earn your Masters Degree will be excellent. I spent most of my career working for large, national consulting firms. But another major career path is to work for state or regional governments in a Watershed Group. Good engineers are also in great demand for city and county public works departments.
My career experience included water supply studies, water quality sampling and analysis, flood control studies, water reuse evaluations, stream and river basin studies, water system design and stormwater drainage design. One of my favorite types of work were lake and stream restoration studies. Work I performed resulted in greatly improved water quality and aesthetics. I was also privileged to witness successful salmon spawning in degraded streams that we restored.
Environmental engineering can mean several things. It encompasses wastewater treatment (I did some of that). But it also includes remediation of contaminated industrial sites and all that entails. The latter had its heyday from about 1985-2010. But there are still active cleanup sites around the Country.
In closing, you can look forward to a varied and richly rewarding field of work in your future water resources career.
Pete Sturtevant, PE
Peter recommends the following next steps:
- During your senior year, check out and apply to several good graduate schools.