Environmental Public Health Engineering

Students interested in earning a living while protecting the public from air and water contaminants might consider careers in environmental public health engineering. Read on to learn about career options and available degrees in this field.

Is Environmental Public Health Engineering for Me?

Career Description

Although there is not a specific degree in environmental public health engineering, degree programs are available in environmental engineering, environmental health engineering and environmental health sciences and engineering. These programs are multidisciplinary and include courses in public health, as well as science and engineering. Pursuing any one of these degrees can give you the skills necessary to help solve complex problems in both our natural and constructed environments. These fields focus on the impact of contaminants and human activity on the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, as well as how engineers and related scientists can design public systems to reduce the impact of environmental risks on the public health.

Career Options

A wide range of opportunities exists if you graduate with an environmental engineering, environmental health engineering or environmental health sciences and engineering degree. Career options in environmental health include working in academia, public health agencies, research agencies and various commercial industries. For example, you could work as an environmental engineer, consulting with companies to ensure their compliance with federal regulations. Other positions include county public health director, environmental protection specialist, sanitary engineer, hazardous waste specialist and water quality scientist.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you have a good chance of finding employment in several of these fields during the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov). For example, in May 2012 the BLS reported that environmental engineers had a median yearly salary of $80,890, and employment was expected to grow at a rate of 15%. That same year, environmental scientists and specialists, including those that worked in public health, earned $63,570 as a median annual salary with an expected employment growth rate of 15%.

How Can I Work in Environmental Public Health Engineering?

Education Options and Licensing

If you're interested in a career in environmental public health engineering, you have several educational options to choose from. You might decide to obtain a bachelor's or master's degree in environmental engineering or environmental sciences and engineering (ESE). You could also choose a dual degree program, which generally requires an additional year beyond the bachelor's program to obtain the master's degree in ESE.

You might also choose to earn a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering, which is recommended if you are seeking a career in research, education or management. If you already possess an accredited undergraduate degree in engineering, you may wish to consider a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MSEE). After completing a degree, environmental engineers, like all engineers, must be licensed by their state, which requires sitting for several exams.

A Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) can assist you in obtaining an environmental health job. There are even environmental health graduate degree programs offered online. MSPH programs cover topics such as public health, engineering, air pollution, air quality engineering, toxicology, pathogens, microbiology, water chemistry, environmental economics and climate dynamics.

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