Masters in Environmental Engineering: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for environmental engineers with master's degrees. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Energy Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Environmental Engineer?

Environmental engineers analyze environmental problems like air and water contamination, climate change, and improper recycling methods to develop solutions for these issues. For the most part, they monitor environmental projects, inspect polluted industrial sites, and produce proposals for its improvements. Probably the most rewarding aspect of this job is providing suggestions on how to combat hazardous waste. Some of these professionals tend to work with waste control specialists, scientists, and technicians. Environmental engineers who earn master's degrees might conduct research, conduct quality assurance tests for businesses, or teach at the college level.

The table listed below provides information about education, key skills, and employment for this profession.

Degree RequiredBachelor's
Key SkillsInterpersonal, management, problem-solving, writing
LicensureVoluntary licensure available
Job Growth (2014-2024)12%*
Median Salary (2015) $84,560*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Jobs Can I Apply For With a Master's Degree in Environmental Engineering?

Graduates with advanced degrees in environmental engineering can work in many areas of environmental protection and qualify for positions beyond the entry level. You might conduct research on environmental impacts of new construction plans or perform quality control checks for businesses. Your work may focus on a number of areas, including:

  • Air or water quality control
  • Hazardous waste management
  • Storm water management
  • Public health
  • Industrial pollution
  • Radiation protection
  • Wildlife protection

Your job title might be a planner, operator, designer or government regulatory agency official. Your master's degree can also prepare you for engineering teaching, research and development positions.

What Are Some Potential Employers?

Environmental engineers work in a large range of fields. You may also work independently as a consultant helping clients comply with environmental regulations. Common employers of environmental engineers include:

  • Consulting engineering firms
  • Nonprofit agencies
  • Utility companies
  • Universities
  • Testing laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Petroleum or natural gas industries

What Will I Need in Addition to My Master's Degree?

All states require engineers to be licensed as professional engineers (PEs) to perform certain functions and services to the public. For instance, only licensed engineers are able to seal designs, bid for government contracts, perform consulting services and offer services to the public.

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) administers the examinations for engineering licensure in the United States (www.ncees.org). In addition to your degree, you will need to complete four years of relevant work experience under the supervision of a PE to be eligible to sit for the two qualifying exams.

Will I Need to Become Certified?

Professional organizations and societies offer certifications that may help expand your employment options and advancement opportunities by demonstrating your expertise and ability to handle more complex engineering projects. For instance, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE) offers two types of credentials, the Board Certified Environmental Engineer (BCEE) and the Board Certified Environmental Engineering Member (BCEEM) (www.aaee.net). In general, PEs with at least eight years of relevant full-time experience are eligible to sit for the exam in their specialty area to become board certified.

What Is the Job Outlook Like?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of environmental engineers was expected to grow faster than average for all occupations between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov).

Demand for these jobs was expected to remain high, as companies complied with existing and changing environmental regulations. Environmental hazard clean up, as well as an increased focus on hazard prevention, would also drive job growth within the environmental engineering industry.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn?

Salaries for engineers vary according to specialty, industry and level of education. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for environmental engineers was $84,560 in May 2015. The two top paying industries were oil and gas extraction, at $112,390 a year, and pipeline transportation of crude oil at $132,660.

What Are Some Similar Alternative Careers?

Two examples that are similar to environmental engineering and require a bachelor's degree are civil engineering and chemical engineering. Civil engineers' median pay for 2015 was $82,220 a year. Their job usually consists of the construction, operation, and preservation of structures, including buildings, roads, and the local water supply system. Chemical engineers typically earn a median wage of $97,360 a year to work in resolving production issues concerning manufactured products such as food and drugs. These engineers use science and math knowledge in supervising operational facilities and conducting researches.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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