How to Become an Environmental Engineer

What Is an Environmental Engineer?

Environmental engineers are responsible for understanding and managing the effects of human activity on the environment. They use their knowledge of engineering, physical and natural sciences, and math to create and implement systems and processes that minimize environmental harm. Environmental engineers can specialize in various fields, such as resource and energy conservation, air pollution control, waste management and recycling, water treatment, and public health protection.

Becoming an Environmental Engineer

In order to become an environmental engineer, you must be knowledgeable in a variety of sciences and mathematics and possess the engineering skillset to design and operate effective systems and processes. The typical educational requirement to become an environmental engineer is a Bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a closely related field that includes coursework in environmental chemistry, ecology, applied physics, soil science, and so on. To practice as a professional engineer, you must pass the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.

In addition to earning a degree, gaining experience through internships, apprenticeships, and hands-on work experience is beneficial in developing the skills necessary to become an environmental engineer. After completing your education and obtaining the requisite experience, you can apply for environmental engineering jobs. In some states and for certain employers, professional certifications and continuing education may be required to practice engineering.

For environmental engineers who have achieved the skills and experience necessary to practice engineering, there are a variety of opportunities to grow your career. You may pursue positions in management, regulation, and policy research. In addition, you can continue your education by obtaining a master’s degree or a PhD in environmental engineering to open the door to more advanced professional opportunities.


With proper education and experience, anyone can become an environmental engineer and make a positive contribution to preserving and enhancing the environment. Environmental engineers use skills in engineering, science, and mathematics to design and operate systems, processes and equipment that reduce the environmental impact of human activities. To become an environmental engineer, you must first earn a degrees in environmental engineering or a related field, gain experience through internships, apprenticeships and more, apply for environmental engineering jobs, obtain professional credentials, and pursue advancement opportunities. With the right skills and dedication, you can truly make a difference as an environmental engineer.