What degrees can I earn in environmental engineering?
An onsite or online engineering degree program in environmental engineering offers several degree options for students wanting to start a career in this field. Most of the top environmental engineering degrees are from undergraduate and environmental engineering graduate programs. However, associates and doctoral programs are also available, as are a number of multidisciplinary programs in which environmental engineering is paired with disciplines such as civil or chemical engineering.
Environmental engineering certificate
Certificates in environmental engineering are available at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and require a candidate to have earned a bachelors or masters in the field. An engineering certificate is most often for engineers going beyond the standard degree requirements to gain knowledge in an area of concentration, such as environmental engineering chemistry or biotechnology. Length of time and required credit hours for completion may vary, but typically range from 12 to 18 credit hours over 2 to 3 semesters.
Environmental engineering associates degree
An onsite or online engineering associates degree program may be the best fit for someone seeking a career as an environmental engineering technician. Technicians work with the engineering team and execute plans as designed by the environmental engineer. Credit hours for an associates degree range from 60 to 80 credit hours and will likely take 2 years to complete. Programs may require competency in calculus or trigonometry for admission.
Environmental engineering bachelors degree
A campus-based or online engineering bachelors degree in environmental engineering is considered the entry-level credential for employment in the field. Like most bachelors degree programs, the degree takes around 4 years to complete 120 to 140 credit hours.
Students who complete the program will earn either a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering or a Bachelor of Engineering with an environmental engineering focus, depending upon the college or university. Common prerequisites for admission include advanced math, chemistry and physics courses, as well as a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Environmental engineering masters degree
The Master of Science in Environmental Engineering and Master of Engineering with an environmental engineering concentration are the 2 environmental engineering masters degrees typically offered by colleges and universities. Programs range from 30 to 40 credit hours over 2 to 3 years but can be longer or shorter depending upon the institution. An onsite or online engineering masters degree will likely require a minimum GRE score set by the institution, as well as completion of advanced calculus and physics courses.
Environmental engineering PhD
A PhD in engineering and ScD, or Doctor of Science, degrees are the highest degree options in environmental engineering, with requirements for completion varying by institution. Most programs will involve a high level of scientific research related to environmental engineering, and can last as little as 2 years and as long as 8 years. The environmental engineering PhD program will likely culminate in the completion of a dissertation, and will require earned credit hours ranging from 50 to 120 hours.
Are there any environmental engineering degree programs online?
Top universities, colleges and private institutions offer environmental engineering degree programs online, allowing students to complete their entire educations, from associates through PhD, via distance education. You can find a program that is offered completely online or a partial or hybrid program that will require you to take some courses onsite.
Online degrees in environmental engineering
As you research an environmental engineering associates degree online, be aware that most career opportunities available to graduates with an associates will be for environmental engineering technician jobs. Technicians in this field provide assistance to environmental engineers in executing plans to reduce environmental health hazards. If you are interested in becoming a professional engineer, you are encouraged to research accredited environmental engineering online colleges that offer bachelors and masters degree programs.
As a student interested in pursuing an environmental engineering bachelors degree online, you will want to seek networking opportunities outside of your education program. While attending a campus-based program allows for networking opportunities with faculty and other professionals in the field, it may be more challenging to make the same connections while attending an online program. Seek out professional associations, and attend conferences and networking events that will offer similar opportunities to make valuable contacts.
Earning an environmental engineering online masters degree from both an accredited engineering program and an accredited college or university is important to your success as an engineer. The licensing body for engineering requires graduation from an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In addition, attending a university accredited by 1 of several national accrediting agencies is required for you to receive state and federal financial aid.
Earning a PhD in environmental engineering will likely require a great deal of research, and 1 of the challenges of attending environmental engineering schools online is the potential lack of laboratory resources that will be available to you. The best environmental engineering online program will accommodate your research needs and work with you to ensure that you have access to the facilities you need.
What kinds of environmental engineering classes will I take in my program?
In your first 2 years of pursuing a bachelors in environmental engineering, whether you take onsite or online engineering courses, you will likely take core requirements in chemistry, biology and statistics with some engineering electives. As you proceed in your program, you will take courses that focus more on your major, such as green engineering and sustainability, air pollution and water quality.
As a graduate student taking environmental engineering online courses or onsite courses you will have the opportunity to delve more deeply into environmental engineering courses with classes in civil infrastructure, hydrology and airborne particle characterization. If your program requires a thesis project in order to graduate, you will likely choose an area upon which to focus your research.
Finally, as a PhD candidate in environmental engineering, you will engage in independent research on a topic related to your area of interest. Your earned credit hours during this program will likely focus on taking a PhD qualifying examination, as well as your dissertation proposal and final dissertation defense.
What environmental engineering careers can I choose from?
Environmental engineering jobs will typically fall into 1 of several categories addressing air pollution, water treatment and hazardous and toxic waste. The best careers in environmental engineering have a powerful ecological and public health impact.
Air quality engineer
Air quality engineers analyze levels of air pollution and assess the level of environmental and public health impact that may result. Additionally, they design environmental regulatory programs to manage potential health and safety risks to the public. Air quality engineering jobs typically require a bachelors or masters in environmental engineering, with salaries in the field ranging from $46,000 to $112,000 depending upon education and experience.
Water and waste water engineer
Water and waste water engineers design and construct the tools and infrastructure that provide the public with pure water, as well as monitor water safety. There are many opportunities available to water and waste water engineers with a bachelors in environmental engineering, although licensure is typically required. An environmental engineering salary in water and waste water engineering typically ranges from $28,000 to $82,000.
Waste management engineer
A waste management engineer designs and implements systems related to the prevention, treatment and control of environmental hazards. Jobs for waste management engineers typically require a minimum of a bachelors degree and pay an average salary of $22,000 to $117,000.
Is there anything else I should know about getting a degree in environmental engineering?
While not all engineers choose to pursue licensure, many environmental engineering employers require applicants to have a Professional Engineer license. The first step toward this licensure is to take the Fundamentals in Engineering exam in order to be considered an environmental engineer-in-training until you become eligible to sit for your licensure exam.
The American Academy of Environmental Engineers offers specialty engineering certification for engineers interested in becoming an AAEE Board Certified Environmental Engineer. Certification requires a passing score on written and oral exams in 1 of 8 environmental engineering specialties, including air pollution control, environmental sustainability and hazardous waste management.