Become an Environmental Engineer in 2021?

Become an environmental engineer in 2021? Environmental engineers are basically the ones who develop engineering solutions to environmental problems. Their job involves studying the environment so that they can come up with an effective solution that doesn't have a negative impact on the world.

Let's find out if being an environmental engineer is right for you through these questions:

  1. What is the average salary of an environmental engineer?
  2. What is the job market like for environmental engineers? Would it be hard for you to get a job?
  3. Would this occupation be compatible with your personality and interests?
  4. What kind of education do you need to become an environmental engineer?

Let's get started.

Become an Environmental Engineer in 2021?

The role of environmental engineers in society is important because they are among the people who look for ways to save the Earth. The world is becoming more and more damaged due to a lot of factors, such as improper waste disposal and pollution.

Environmental engineers are focused on creating systems to improve waste disposal, to put into practice the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), to make the public health system better, and to prevent pollution from causing more harm to the surroundings.

They are also in charge of making sure that construction projects won't have negative impact on the environment once they are completely built.

1. What is the average salary of an environmental engineer?

Environmental engineers are among the engineers who earn less than $100,000 annually in the United States.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental engineers had a base salary of $96,890 in 2020. These were the engineers who outearned them:

  • Petroleum Engineers: $154,330
  • Computer Hardware Engineers: $126,140
  • Nuclear Engineers: $125,130
  • Aerospace Engineers: $121,110
  • Chemical Engineers: $114,820
  • Electrical Engineers: $105,990
  • Agricultural Engineers: $101,620
  • Materials Engineers: $100,550
  • Mining Engineers: $100,140

Environmental engineers earned $4,730 less than agricultural engineers in 2020.

That $96,890 in 2020 grew from $59,710 in 2000. The base salary of environmental engineers increased by $37,180 in twenty years. The wage growth is $1,770 per year.

There was an upward trend from 2000 through 2020. And if that were to continue, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sees that environmental engineers could earn up to $113,695 in 2030.

Here is how the 2020 base salaries break down by percentile.

  • 10th Percentile: $55,450 (starting salary estimate)
  • 25th Percentile: $70,260
  • 50th Percentile: $92,120 (median salary)
  • 75th Percentile: $118,960
  • 90th Percentile: $144,670

There is an $89,220 difference between the 10th Percentile and the 90th Percentile.

The highest-paid environmental engineers were in Idaho in 2020. Here's how much environmental engineers in these states earned:

  • Idaho: $110,690
  • California: $109,380
  • Washington: $108,290
  • Texas: $108,270
  • Minnesota: $107,430
  • Massachusetts: $101,260
  • Alaska: $99,440
  • New York: $98,040
  • Pennsylvania: $95,200
  • Wyoming: $93,860
  • Montana: $88,790
  • Rhode Island: $85,870

The lowest-paid environmental engineers in the United States had a base salary of $70,170 in the same year.

In 2021, here's how much environmental engineers earned in different countries all over the world:

  • United States: $96,890
  • Australia: $82,258
  • Germany: $77,635
  • Canada: $71,962
  • United Kingdom: $67,827
  • France: $62,549

Environmental engineers in the United States earned $24,928 more than those in Canada.

2. What is the job market like for environmental engineers? Would it be hard for you to get a job?

There are over 50,000 environmental engineers in the United States.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 50,260 environmental engineers in 2020. They were outnumbered by these engineers:

  • Civil Engineers: 300,850
  • Mechanical Engineers: 293,960
  • Industrial Engineers: 290,190
  • Electrical Engineers: 185,220
  • Electronics Engineers: 122,320

On the other hand, these were the engineers they outnumbered:

  • Petroleum Engineers: 27,850
  • Chemical Engineers: 25,770
  • Materials Engineers: 24,740
  • Health and Safety Engineers: 23,780

Environmental engineers outnumbered agricultural engineers by 48,820 in the same year.

We can see on the graph above that environmental engineering isn't one of the engineering fields Americans would want to specialize in. Regardless, environmental engineers in 2020 were 1,990 more than they were in 2000.

And if the number were to increase in the coming years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sees that it could increase by 1,508 in 2030!

Here's how many environmental engineers were found in these states in 2020:

  • California: 7,940
  • New York: 3,350
  • Texas: 3,310
  • Pennsylvania: 2,320
  • Massachusetts: 2,290
  • Washington: 1,830
  • Minnesota: 680
  • Montana: 410
  • Idaho: 360
  • Alaska: 260
  • Rhode Island: 260
  • Wyoming: 180

Now, would it be hard for you to get a job?

I used GlassdoorIndeed, and LinkedIn to find the number of job postings for this occupation. Job postings give us a real-time estimate of the demand for a particular occupation.

On Glassdoor, there are 16,855 job opportunities.

On Indeed, there are 5,131.

On LinkedIn, there are 14,407.

The number of job postings for environmental engineers in the United States is 36,393.

As there are 50,260 environmental engineers, there is 1 job opportunity for every 1.38 individuals. Getting a job in this field wouldn't be difficult.

3. Would this occupation be compatible with your personality and interests?

The Holland Codes or the Holland Occupational Themes (RIASEC) refers to a career and vocational choice theory. After taking a RIASEC assessment, your results show your scores across six different occupational themes: Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C).

The Strong Interest Inventory is the gold standard for figuring out your interests, but it is a controlled assessment. It isn't free. You need a certified professional to administer it to you. A free alternative evaluation is available here.

Environmental engineers scored high in the Investigative (100) and Realistic (78) themes.

People that score high in the investigative theme tend to describe themselves as thoughtful, analytical, intellectual, complex, independent, and curious. They are motivated by analyzing, inquiring, and researching.

Moreover, people that score high in the realistic theme tend to describe themselves as reliable, practical, thrifty, persistent, reserved, and self-reliant. They are motivated by building, repairing, and being outdoors.

This means that environmental engineers are independent people who like mental stimulation. They are usually quiet and by themselves, but they enjoy being outdoors, surrounded by people.

Furthermore, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in perceiving the world and making decisions. Many people discover their Myers-Briggs type to help determine which career to go into.

There isn't an even distribution of type among the United States population. According to the MBTI Manual Third Edition, 13.8% of the US population is an ISFJ (The Defender), the most common type. The second most common type is ESFJ (The Caregiver), 12.3% of the American population.

Meanwhile, only 1.5% of the US population is INFJ (The Advocate).

23.0% of environmental engineers are ISTJs. ISTJs (The Inspector) are practical and logical. They have a strong sense of responsibility and make sure that their work is of great quality. They prefer working by themselves.

Here are the other personality types found among environmental engineers:

  • ESTJ (The Director): 16.8%
  • ISTP (The Crafter): 7.3%
  • ESTP (The Persuader): 6.8%

Environmental engineers are logical and like going through a process before they come up with a conclusion.

On the other hand, those who are most likely to become environmental engineers are ENTJs. ENTJs (The Commander) are confident and authoritative. They are driven and determined, and they love being challenged.

Those who tend to become environmental engineers also have these personality types:

  • INTJ (The Architect): 2.5 SSR
  • ISTJ (The Inspector): 2.0 SSR
  • ENTP (The Debater): 1.94 SSR

All of them look at a situation from an objective point of view.

4. What kind of education do you need to become an environmental engineer?

A bachelor's degree is required to be a licensed environmental engineer.

According to the Occupational Information Network, among the environmental engineers:

  • 64% have a bachelor's degree
  • 9% have a post-bachelor certificate
  • 27% have a master's degree

Only some of the environmental engineers finished a graduate degree.

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