To work as an environmental engineer, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- have at least a bachelor's degree; and
- have a license.
Education after high school
Environmental engineers need at least a bachelor's degree in civil, mechanical, or chemical engineering. Most universities offer a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Some colleges and universities also offer engineering programs with an emphasis on environmental systems and design. Engineering programs take four to five years to complete.
You should consider participating in an internship with an engineering firm while you are in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.
Many engineering companies have their own testing labs. They often need extra help during the summer when construction activities are at a peak. Getting a summer job in an "in house" laboratory is a good way to gain experience and make contacts.
Employers usually provide training for employees working with and around environmental contaminants. Many states require environmental workers to be certified. Certification courses usually take place during a 40-hour training week. You learn about chemical exposure risks and ways to prevent injuries. You may also receive first aid training. The length of training varies by employer, but usually lasts less than a year.
Some environmental engineers may also receive additional training in the use of special equipment.
The military does not provide initial training in this field. However, the military may provide work experience to environmental engineering graduates.