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What does a regular day for an environmental engineer look like?

I am interested in environmental sciences/studies. I was looking at environmental engineer because I thought that would be interesting but I am not sure if that is really for me. What is it like to be an environmental engineer? engineer environmental-engineering environmental-science environmental

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Lincoln’s Answer

Hello Aisha,
I work with a few environmental engineers, as well as environmental geologists and scientists. In my company, there's not too much distinction between the three as we all perform similar work. The different for my group would be professional designation and stamping off on reports as you advance your career. I work for an environmental consulting company, supporting clients across all sectors (oil and gas, commercial, municipal, and mining primarily). My days as a hydrogeologist/environmental geologist are generally communicating with clients to work on developing/executing scope on their Sites to assess environmental contamination in soil and groundwater, managing field teams who are out doing all the hard work for me, crunching the data from those field programs, and preparing reports for client and regulatory review. I mostly sit behind a desk now so the hours are generally pretty consistent, but I work in consulting so if my client calls or I have a team in the field, the hours can extend a bit. Just starting out, expect your days to be filled with field work, data collection and analysis, with likely weekend work and travel, depending on the company/position you get. You need to "pay your dues", if you will, in order to understand how data is collected, the time it takes, limitations, etc. so you can use that experience as you progress in your career into more of an office support and/or manager. This field time also is needed for many professional designation requirements. My field teams go out and collect groundwater and surface water samples, supervise drill rigs to collect soil samples and install monitoring wells, conduct test pits and remedial excavations, and monitor remedial groundwater treatment systems. So lots of variety and exposure to different environmental sampling and issues. Never a dull moment in environmental consulting!

Lincoln recommends the following next steps:

Definitely more schooling beyond high school. Look at current postings to see what companies are asking for to help gauge the type and duration of program needed for what you're interested in.
Look for summer employment, as many companies ramp up field work during the summer months and need hands that know a bit, but not everything yet.
Look at the requirements for becoming a professional and consider that when looking for school programs and employment.

Thank you for your response, it's very helpful and much appreciated Aisha Z.

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Kristen’s Answer

A career as an environmental engineer is a great choice! You will be able to help to keep the planet sustained and livable for the generations to come, all while making a good living.

To become an environmental engineer, you will need to go to school to get a bachelor's degree at the least. A master's would be ideal. Also, you will want to think about getting a Professional Engineer license. This will take you very far!

You could have so many opportunities open to you. You can work on climate change for innovative companies and contracts, for the EPA, as an Environmental, Health, and Safety professional at a business, all sorts of things. Working in Environmental is a very rewarding job because you are making a difference for people today as well as people that will be alive 100 years from now!

In my everyday life I work with hazardous waste management, air quality management, water quality management, and a whole host of other little things related to this. There is never a boring day, I get to be outside plenty, and it's satisfying. Best of luck in your future!


Thank you. Aisha Z.