Careers in Environmental and Ecological Engineering
What Environmental and Ecological Engineers do:
The unifying theme of environmental and ecological engineering is the interface of engineered systems and processes with the world around us. Environmental and ecological engineers design and redesign the things that we need, so that needs can be met with sustainable impacts on the environment and its ecological systems.
The work of environmental and ecological engineers varies significantly – from the design and maintenance of pollution control equipment to the measurement and minimization of pollution’s impacts; from the development of new energy technologies and sources to the control and management of existing energy sources; from the design of buildings to minimize negative impacts on people and the environment to the design of the infrastructure of entire countries to minimize resource use.
A recent stroll through various job listings for environmental and ecological engineers shows some of the diversity in job possibilities.
Within engineering firms, jobs were available as an environmental team member in:
• environmental consulting
• consumer products packaging
• photovoltaic cell manufacturing
• petroleum extraction
• chemical engineering consulting
• construction management
• rooftop greenhouse design
• civil engineering
EEE jobs in government were available as:
• city water treatment engineer
• county energy manager
• water resource district engineer
• regional air quality management district employee
• urban renewal corporation engineer
• research hospital environmental manager
• local electricity utility efficiency engineer
• major university physical plant energy manager
• US EPA environmental regulation specialist
The size and future of the Environmental and Ecological Engineering Job Market:
According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- in 2006, there were 54,000 Environmental and Ecological Engineering jobs in the US.
- the number of EEE jobs is expected to increase by 22% over the next decade, leading to the creation of more than 22,000 new jobs in the field of environmental engineering by 2020.
- the biggest growth in EEE jobs will come in the sub-fields of pollution prevention, public health, and energy technology.
- as of May 2012, the mean annual salary for environmental engineers is $85,140. It is is comparable to the mean annual salary for mechanical engineers ($84,770), civil engineers ($84,140), and material engineers ($87,490).
- in 2007, 71% of EEE jobs was in the private sector; 29% in the public sector (of which, 12% were at the state level, 10% county or local level, and 7% federal).
Finding your career while at Purdue
Purdue University and the College of Engineering have several programs and offices to assist students in finding employment. Students should consult with the Center for Career Opportunities, and (for information about co-ops and internships, which often lead to full-time employment), the Office of Professional Practice.