Environmental Engineering is probably the most ecologically-oriented branch there is. Environmental Engineers use their skills and knowledge to study, analyze, and understand how human activity affects the natural environment, always aiming their efforts towards reducing said impact. Environmental Engineers draw knowledge from several areas of science, including biology, chemistry, and geology, to help them understand the natural world around them and how to better preserve it.
Environmental Engineers are often employed as counsellors or advisors by construction companies or government agencies focused towards the preservation and maintenance of the natural environment.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Environmental Engineers are required to complete.
- Analyzing the negative effect of human activity on the environment:
- Using mathematical models to simulate and analyze past, present, and possible future natural phenomena;
- conducting analyses on water and soil samples;
- looking for new sustainable energy sources;
- designing ways to minimize the effects of hazardous consequences of human activity on the environment; and
- writing reports and recommendations based on their investigations.
- Coordinating and managing different environmental projects.
- Counselling clients and employers looking to amend damage made to the environment:
- Meeting with clients in order to provide advice on how to reduce their negative impact on the environment;
- conducting environmental research in order to find ways to reduce the impact of human activity on nature;
- presenting the project to the client in order to get approval;
- designing plans and schematics of a viable solution to any environmental problem at hand with the help of specialized software;
- altering existing products to fit the clients’ current environmental needs;
- testing and troubleshooting the solution before it goes into production; and
- implementing the recommended solution and providing regular maintenance.
- Designing more efficient power plants.
- Designing new models of electric vehicles or creating alternative fuels that are eco-friendlier.
- Devising new ecological ways to dispose of hazardous-waste:
- Improving processes such as recycling, waste disposal, public health, industrial hygiene, and water and air pollution control; and
- designing new and improved systems for water supply and disposal.
- Developing programs related to conservation and management of natural resources.
- Liaising with other professionals and influencers (e.g. politicians and artists) in order to promote their work and findings in environmental research.
- Conducting technical inspections to determine the level of impact a company’s commercial and industrial activity has on the environment:
- Providing expert advice on ways to reduce the negative impact on the environment and suggesting ecological alternatives (e.g. waste management methods, clean-ups, and the use of eco-friendly materials);
- assessing how a site complies with environmental regulations;
- training others in topics such as compliance standards and in quality assurance documentation maintenance; and
- providing expert assistance in database development, network, and regulatory analysis.
- Knowing and complying to government regulations regarding permits, licences, and working procedures.
- Researching, developing, designing, and producing solutions to environmental issues.
- Aiming their work and efforts towards minimizing the negative effects of human activity on the environment.
- Drafting and studying environmental investigation reports.
- Analyzing and interpreting collected data regarding environmental issues.
- Supervising the overall progress of environmental programs put in place and ensuring they adhere to all applicable regulations.
- Acting as environmental advisors for companies and government entities.
The average Environmental Engineer salary is $71,319 per year or $37 per hour. This is around 2.2 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $50,000 while most experienced workers make up to $100,000. These results are based on 19 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding amount of imagination and inventiveness in order to design environmentally friendly systems.
- Ability to support or direct field staff undertaking complex investigations.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with coworkers and clients, and provide a high-quality service;
- being able to work alongside a team of Technicians, Mechanics, and other Engineers towards achieving a common goal; and
- being able to read, understand, and write technical reports and other documents.
- Mathematical skills:
- Applying basic Engineering concepts and other processes to their designs and projects.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment;
- anticipating problems in order to prevent losses and alleviate environmental damage; and
- being precise and accurate in their calculations and analyses.
- Organizational and time management skills and great attention to detail:
- Being able to work independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team in a fast-paced environment while managing a busy workload; and
- being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities accordingly.
- Enthusiastic, versatile, and willing to take on responsibility.
In order to become a fully licensed Environmental Engineer, candidates must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in Science or Engineering and proceed to take the necessary specialization. Applicants with relevant postgraduate degrees, such as masters (MEng) or Ph.D.’s, tend to have the advantage over other candidates when applying for a job in the area. These professionals may choose to specialize in different areas of environmental protection with further studies. Employers usually ask for 5 to 10 years of related Engineering experience.
Ecological concerns and awareness are growing more with the general conscience of the public. Therefore, more and more companies are joining the green movement and hiring Environmental Engineers to help them become eco-friendlier.
All candidates applying for an Environmental Engineer job must be proficient in MS Office Suite, specialized CAD software, especially AutoCAD, and database management, as well as being a registered professional in their corresponding province. Only licensed Engineers can practice this career in Canada. The provincial and territorial regulatory bodies for all Engineering careers in this country are the ones associated to Engineers Canada, which is in charge of overseeing all matters related to this field, including licensing. 
Environmental Engineers work typical 9-to-5 schedules in industrial plants, offices, or labs. However, they can also be found working on-site near water sources, energy systems, and construction projects. Working extra hours while directing a project is usually a must for these professionals. They must ensure that the design meets the client’s requirements and that the deadlines are met. Environmental Engineers also need to have a valid driver’s license and a good driving record, as well as a reliable mean of transportation, in order to get themselves to job sites within their designated area.