A career in environmental engineering is an area of engineering that specialises in issues related to the environment and the advancement of infrastructure. This professional path is important in society since it helps to address challenges such as pollution, waste management, and water scarcity. Starting a career in environmental engineering will place you in an important position as you would be responsible for areas such as climate change, air quality as well as public health concerns.
As an environmental engineer, you will apply engineering concepts and scientific expertise to address environmental challenges and promote environmentally sustainable growth. Environmental engineers devise and implement solutions that mitigate, control, or eradicate environmental problems. Additionally, they work in fields such as waste treatment, wastewater treatment, site restoration, and pollution control technology.
In this piece, I will walk you through the steps to start a career in environmental engineering as well as the various fields in environmental engineering.
How to Start a Career in Environmental Engineering
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
The first step to take is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. You should apply to an accredited university and obtain a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. Additionally, you can also earn a degree in disciplines such as civil engineering, chemical engineering or environmental science.
Gain Practical Experience
You can experience this through internship, volunteering or entry-level roles. This experience is vital as it will help you gain hands-on experience in this field. You can apply to places such as environmental consulting firms, government agencies, or industrial companies. Additionally, this experience can help you to build and develop your skills as well as give you a better understanding of this profession. You can also have access to experts and mentors who can give you better guidance in your career journey.
Build Industry Relevant Skills
This career path requires a combination of both technical and soft skills. You can develop skills such as communication skills, analytical, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, you can build skills in data analysis, computer modelling and environmental software.
Choose an Area of Specialisation
Environmental engineering is a broad field. You can choose an area of your interest and carve a niche in it. You can choose areas such as air quality, water resources or waste management.
Pursue a Master’s Degree
A master’s degree might give access to in-depth information and research possibilities in certain areas of interest, such as renewable energy, air quality, or water resources. Furthermore, it might provide you with an advantage when you apply for work in academia or that needs research. Therefore, you can obtain a master’s degree in environmental engineering or a specialised area of your choice.
Obtain Professional Certification
Acquiring professional certificates can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge. Additionally, it demonstrates your commitment to continuous learning and professional development.
Join a Professional Association
As an environmental engineer, you must become a member of a professional association. This will give you the chance you network and connect with colleagues, experts and professional engineers. Additionally, you can get the opportunity to get research funding opportunities. Furthermore, you can have access to growth opportunities as well as career opportunities.
Certifications you can obtain in Environmental Engineering
- Certified Environmental Professional (CEP)
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
- Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC)
- Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM)
- Certified Professional in Stormwater Quality (CPSWQ)
Areas of Specialisation in Environmental Engineering
- Waste Management Engineers: These engineers specialise in developing and installing efficient waste management systems. Additionally, they evaluate waste treatment technology and investigate creative solutions to waste management.
- Sustainable Energy Engineers: These experts focus on renewable energy projects as well as energy efficiency measures. Furthermore, they are involved in grid integration, energy storage, and the development of sustainable energy regulation.
- Water Resources Engineers: These engineers are water resource management and conservation experts. Additionally, they create irrigation systems and flood prevention techniques. They also work on initiatives including the control of stormwater and wastewater.
- Environmental Remediation Engineers: These engineers are hazardous site cleanup and restoration experts. They carry out remediation programmes for soil and groundwater using methods such as excavation, bioremediation, and chemical treatment.
- Air Quality Engineers: They carry out air quality modelling, determine how pollutants affect human health, and create strategies for adhering to air quality laws. Generally, they concentrate on tracking, examining, and managing air pollution.
- Environmental Impact Assessment Engineers: These engineers are experts at carrying out analyses to determine the potential environmental effects of plans, decisions, or actions. Additionally, they evaluate the hazards, create mitigation plans, and guarantee adherence to environmental laws.
Universities in Africa that Offer Environmental Engineering
- Cairo University, Egypt
- University of Lagos, Nigeria
- Ain Shams University, Egypt
- University of Johannesburg, South Africa
- Alexandria University, Egypt
- University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
- Mansoura University, Egypt
- University of Cape Town, South Africa
- Assiut University, Egypt
- University of Monastir, Tunisia
- Sohag University, Egypt
- University of Nigeria, Nigeria
- Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
- University of Ibadan, Nigeria
- Assiut University, Egypt
- Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
- University of Carthage, Tunisia
- University of Pretoria, South Africa
- Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
- University of Gondar, Ethiopia
- University of Ilorin, Nigeria
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
- University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
- Jimma University, Ethiopia
- University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
- University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
- Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
- University of Annaba, Algeria
- Hawassa University, Ethiopia
- Makerere University, Uganda
In Conclusion, pursuing a career in environmental engineering enables one to create a lasting positive impact on the environment. However, this career path demands a strong educational background, professional experience as well as development of relevant skills. As an environmental engineer, you can work in laboratories, and carry out fieldwork and office settings.