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What is the typical day of an environmental engineer like?

Hello! I'm Olivia. I just graduated from high school. I'm asking this because I am thinking about majoring in environmental engineering once college starts. I know that one of an an environmental engineer's main goals is to find new and creative ways to protect the planet we live on, but I want to make sure that I'm not missing anything significant. Thanks. #engineer #environmental

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Marina’s Answer

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Hello Olivia,


You asked what a typical day for an environmental engineer is like. That question is a little challenging to answer because not all environmental engineers do the same thing, and not all do the same thing every day. It really depends on the field or sector that you work in, and also on the job position that you have.


For example, even for me as an environmental engineer in the federal government, I'm sure that what I do every day varies from what colleagues in another office or division may do, or from my counterparts in state government and other federal agencies do.


When I worked in the private sector my day-to day-work was also different than from what I do now in my current job. In my private sector job, I was an environmental engineer in a chemical manufacturing facility. So other than having an office job, where I was in charge of keeping the facility in compliance with environmental regulations by applying for environmental permits and completing reports, etc., I also had to do a plant walk-through, once or twice per day, and be in constant communication with plant personnel. I also conducted environmental training for staff and managed the environmental department budget.


In my current position, I have done field inspections, written reports, worked with agency attorneys in enforcement cases, but I have also done environmental outreach to communities. Part of this job consists of a great deal of communication (verbal, written and face to face) with various stakeholders, such as other agency personnel, other federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations and the community at large.


I'm sure other Environmental Engineers have had a different experience than I have, so it would be good to hear it from different aspects. I think it's great that you're thinking about this now, and would recommend you keep researching and inquiring about this topic. Best of luck in college!

Thank you comment icon Thank you! That was extremely helpful. Olivia
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Josh’s Answer

Environmental Engineering varies depending on the employer.

You can work for governmental agencies where you design systems to control surface water runoff to prevent flooding issues in the homes and businesses around the area.

Working in manufacturing you will be ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements by keeping controls operating effectively and keeping them up to date with the most recent technology. I have also been tasked with making the facility I worked at landfill free by finding creative ways to reduce/reuse/recycle waste streams.

The field has a lot of varied options based on the type of business and aspect of work you choose to tackle. It is rewarding career.

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