Dr. Leung’s lecture summarizing Environmental Engineering discussed the career field aspects of the discipline such as major subfields; career paths and ‘timeline’; median, high and low salary estimates; lifetime salary expectations; ‘hot topics’ in the field, job prospects – availability and security, as well as rewards of participating in the work. It is probably true that most engineers go into their respective fields from a love of seeing an idea become something real, tangible, and useful for many people, purposes, and years. As well for some, choosing an environmental engineering career fulfills a need to serve or give back in some way. Areas of employment can include almost anywhere: government, industry, private research, public research, the military, at university, or consulting firms. Must love math, science, and engineering, communicate well, and possess some skill with people interactions. Engineering often requires a significant degree of contact with people.
To summarize, environmental engineers can develop careers in a wide variety of specializations such as waste, water, storm water or land management; city planning; public health; air quality control, air, water, or soil pollution abatement; or in industrial hygiene. Many of these overlap with both the public and private sector. It is a flexible field: needs and specialization within environmental engineering change with public and political priorities, as well as with advances in the manufacturing, oil, and gas sectors, and can require a great deal of travel (as much as 75%). Therefore, what an environmental engineer is working on today may change a month, six months, or a year from now, depending on changing priorities, grades, and, as your career advances, licensing. Dr. Leung stated, “A commitment to lifelong learning is essential …” in part, because of the need to be flexible with changing priorities.
Finally, compensation trends in the field, based on education, grades, and sector where employed can net an environmental engineer a median annual salary of as much as $85,565 (data from February, 2015), o, for someone in this profession with about 10 years experience. The person starting out in the field would probably see significant salary rises in the early part of the career, slowing down/flattening after 10 years or so in the profession. Right now, the demand for environmental engineers is outpacing the supply, which implies that someone graduating in the field could, to some degree, pick and choose among available positions, and that they can expect significant job security. Finally, current ‘hot areas’ were mentioned, such as environmental and industrial sustainability, and noise