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Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineers play a vital role in maintaining the quality of both human environmental systems and the natural environment. Encompassing the scientific assessment and development of engineering solutions to environmental problems impacting the biosphere, land, water and air quality, Environmental Engineers design drinking water treatment plants, municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants, landfills, air pollution control equipment for power plants and industry, and groundwater remediation systems.

Environmental issues affect almost all commercial and industrial sectors, and are a central concern for the public, for all levels of government, and in international relations. These issues include safe drinking water, wastewater processing, solid and hazardous waste disposal, outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution and transfer of infectious diseases, human health and ecological risk management, and prevention of pollution through product or process design.

According to Laurence Shatkin, author of the book, 200 Best Jobs for Renewing America, notes that of the "green" careers with the highest job growth, environmental engineers took the top slot.

Changes in business models will spur the need for environmental engineers, causing the field to grow faster than the average growth for all other occupations. More environmental engineers will be needed to help companies comply with environmental regulations and to develop methods of cleaning up environmental hazards. A shift in emphasis toward preventing problems rather than controlling those which already exist, as well as increasing public health concerns resulting from population growth, also are expected to spur demand for environmental engineers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 30.6% growth for Environmental Engineers between 2008 and 2018. This translates to an additional 16,600 environmental engineering jobs expected to be created in the United States during that decade.

The BLS expects that the largest area of growth will be in technical consulting services, with 85 percent growth is projected for that sector. Another specialization with high growth, 37 percent, will be waste treatment and disposal.

Within traditional engineering specialties, computing and software engineers will continue to be in high demand. Many environmental engineering jobs will focus on developing computer systems to model future environmental impacts and cleanup projects, and also to monitor and assess present environmental conditions.

Engineers with environmental specialties will not only find that their job prospects improve, so may their salaries. Environmental engineering also attracts a more gender-balanced workforce. Women represent as many as half of the environmental engineering students in college. In addition, technology designed to address environmental problems is marketed globally, opening up increasing opportunities for international work in the environmental engineering field.

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