Attending an Environmental Engineering School
Environmental engineers are responsible for solving environmental problems and for creating systems that improve certain processes and procedures. Environmental engineering schools train students how to apply biology and chemistry principles to develop solutions to various types of environmental problems. Some environmental engineering programs focus on construction, quality control and local issues, while others are more focused on environmental problems on a global scale. Students interested in becoming an environmental engineer or researcher can attend one of several accredited universities in the country.
Attending Environmental Engineering Universities
Most environmental engineering universities offer both undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as certification programs for students who want to specialize in a certain area, such as pollution, wastewater management or environmental policy. The university may have a lab or research institute on site, giving students a chance to complete hands-on projects and experiments as part of their educational track.
Students typically learn the following
- Apply knowledge and skills to solve environmental problems
- Experience a wide range of educational experiences in science, analysis, social and cultural studies
- Work with professionals and managers in their field
- Strong research and analysis skills
- Handle the diverse problems of pollution
- Create efficient wastewater management systems
- Understand the fragile ecosystems and expectations for the future
- Analyze scientific data
- Study the effects of global warming and ozone depletion
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Programs Available at Environmental Engineering Schools
Most schools offer the following types of environmental engineering degree programs:
- Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Engineering
- Master's Degree in Environmental Engineering
- Certificate Program in Environmental Engineering
Some programs may specialize in a particular area, such as wildlife ecology, wastewater management, or environmental policy and management.
Getting an Environmental Engineering Degree
Students interested in getting an environmental engineering degree at the bachelor's or master's degree level need to have a strong background in mathematics, science and biology, and a keen interest in research, experimentation and analysis. At the undergraduate level, students learn about the science and principles of water supply treatment, water supply distribution, air pollution control, wastewater treatment and disposal, environmental resources and green engineering. They may also learn about economics and policies related to wastewater management, pollution control and wetlands ecology.
At the graduate level, students take advanced courses in areas of ecological engineering, wastewater microbiology, modeling environmental systems dynamics and aquatic autotrophs. Graduate programs usually include several lab and research requirements, a supervised research project, a non-thesis project and a capstone design requirement. This provides students with plenty of hands-on experience and fieldwork experience.
Courses Available at an Environmental Engineering University
Some of the most common courses available include:
- Environmental Science and Humanity
- Modeling Environmental System Dynamics
- Wastewater Microbiology
- Applied Ecology
- Industrial Ecology
- Environmental Meteorology and Oceanography
- Computational Methods in Environmental Engineering Science
- Air Pollution Control Design
- Solid Waste Treatment Design
- Solid and Hazardous Waste Management
- Concepts of Wastewater Treatment
- Green Engineer Design & Sustainability
Students completing a certificate program typically need to have at least a bachelor's degree in the field, and will complete specialized courses and electives such as:
- Environmental Policy
- Natural Resources and Environmental Policy
- Ecological Engineering
- Water Resources Planning and Management
- Wetland Treatment Systems
- Energy Analysis
- Spring Systems
- Biological Wastewater Treatment
- Green Engineering Design & Sustainability
- Wetlands Ecology
Career Options with an Environmental Engineering Science Degree
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of environmental engineers is expected to grow over 31 percent through 2018. Companies will be interested in hiring more qualified environmental engineers to ensure all systems comply with environmental regulations and policies, and will be shifting towards more preventative approaches.
Many graduates of an environmental engineering science degree work for major oil and engineering companies, local and city government, engineering consulting firms and design firms, organizations that protect local ecosystems, or get a teaching certificate to teach environmental studies.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wages or environmental engineers were $74,020 in May 2008.