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Four Fast-Growing Environmental Engineering Jobs

As more companies focus their attention on pollution, waste disposal and reduction, and recycling, the demand for talented environmental engineers is increasing. The environmental engineering field is not only one of the fastest expanding sectors within engineering, but it is also one of the most rapidly growing careers overall, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to the BLS, the projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024 is 12%, while the average growth rate for all occupations is 7%.

Environmental engineers take the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry and apply them to create solutions to environmental problems. They look at how to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, as well as water and air pollution control. Within the environmental engineering sector, there are areas that are particularly fast growing, including the following four.

Sustainable Engineering

Sustainable engineering considers the entire product and process lifecycle during the design phase. Engineers look at the interactions among technical, ecological, social, and economic systems. Sustainable systems use energy and resources at a rate that does not compromise the natural environment or the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Concepts such as life cycle thinking, industrial ecology, and sustainable systems engineering are important characteristics of sustainable engineers. They identify potential trade-offs between environmental, social, and economic objectives, with a goal of minimizing environmental impacts while simultaneously maximizing the benefits to social and economic stakeholders.

Transport Engineering

Transport engineers plan, design, and operate large public and private infrastructure systems, including highways, airports, trains, seaports, and bridges. They analyze data, identify problems, and solve them with an engineered solution. Some of the information that is gathered and evaluated includes traffic flow, accidents, costs, and other statistics. Transport engineers may need to work with utility companies and government departments to complete projects and adhere to local regulations.

Transport engineers design infrastructure networks that must meet travel and freight demands, ensure safety, mitigate congestion, and be budget-friendly. Transport engineering is evolving from its core mathematical, engineering, and computational principles into a multidisciplinary field that can include economics, politics, and sociology.

Water Engineering

Water engineers study how water interacts with all aspects of the built and natural environments. Water engineering looks at how natural systems such as rivers, estuaries, and the coasts behave; and engineers contemplate how to design infrastructure to store and direct water.

In addition, a water engineer handles the provision of clean water, disposal of wastewater and sewage, and the prevention of flood damage. They design water management systems, as well as repair, preserve, and oversee construction of structures that control water resources, including dams, pumping stations, and réservoirs.

Hazardous Waste Test Engineer

Hazardous waste test engineers collect and analyze soil or water samples that may be contaminated. They also provide information to those who need to know if their health or the public’s safety is in danger. Sometimes, hazardous waste is improperly disposed of, causing the public to be at risk. Other times, municipalities may simply need confirmation of whether there is potential hazardous waste contamination. Although hazardous material comprises a small portion of the overall waste produced, it is crucial to handle it properly to avoid undue risk to the population, as well as the environment.


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