Explore Environmental Engineering
Environmental engineers design and apply technologies to resolve issues of environmental concern. They design systems that produce safe drinking water, treat wastewater so that it can be reused and/or safely returned to the environment, accommodate municipal and hazardous waste, mitigate air pollution, and protect public health. They use engineering and ecological principles to protect and enhance the natural environment, including erosion and sediment control, pollution abatement, watershed management, impaired-waters diagnostics, and wetland and ecological restoration. Environmental engineers pursue a wide range of careers in the private sector, government, and academia.
*Salary and Career Outcomes gathered from the 2020-2021 CSE Graduation Survey. Post-graduation outcomes reflect the percentage of students who were employed full-time in their field or were enrolled in a graduate program at 6 months post-graduation.
**Salary data is national data, not CSE-specific, due to major cohort numbers too small to disclose due to privacy.
What can I do with a major in Environmental Engineering?
- Chemical companies
- Community development
- Environmental law
- Hydrology and hydraulic engineering
- Industrial hygiene
- Mining and manufacturing
- Pollution control
- Public health agencies
- Public works
- Research firms/labs
- Solid/hazardous waste management
- State and local government
- Sustainable development
- Urban planning and development
- Water quality/treatment
- American Engineering Testing, Inc.
- Antea Group
- Black & Veatch
- Barr Engineering
- Brown and Caldwell
- Cliffs Natural Resources
- Flint Hills Resources
- Hennepin County, MN
- Landmark Environmental LLC
- Houston Engineering
- MSA Professional Services
- MN Dept of Health
- MN Dept of Transportation
- Metropolitan Council
- Rice Creek Watershed District
- Vieau Associates
- WSB & Associates
- WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff
- AutoCAD, Civil 3D
- Excel, Visual Basic
- Stochastic Analysis
- Air quality engineer: Inspects, analyzes, and quantifies levels of pollution and their environmental impact. Designs and assesses the effectiveness of environmental regulatory programs to manage health risks to the environment.
- Attorney: Uses knowledge of the law to advocate on behalf of a client. Environmental engineering students are particularly well-positioned for careers in environmental law.
- Energy engineer: Designs and evaluates projects and programs to reduce energy costs or improve energy efficiency during the design, building, or remodeling stages of construction.
- Environmental analyst: Collects, studies, and analyzes data to propose actions and policies to create less harmful and cleaner interactions with the environment.
- Environmental engineer: Designs and supervises systems that prevent and control pollution.
- Environmental health research scientist: Conducts research for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect the environment or the health of the population.
- Environmental specialist: Conduct research or perform investigation for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or the health of the population.
- Hydrologist: Studies the distribution, movement, and quality of underground and surface water. Hydrologists are involved in the design of irrigation systems, waste treatment plants, hydroelectric power plants, flood warning systems, and stream restoration.
- Wastewater engineer: Improves both the environment and economy by helping communities and businesses dispose of waste without polluting natural water sources.
- Water resource engineer: Determines areas prone to flooding, restores ecological function to streams and rivers, develops methods to handle and treat urban runoff, and redirects water by constructing hydraulic structures to benefit residents and businesses in a community.
**Some of these positions may require an advanced degree.
- Active Energy Club
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- Concrete Canoe Team
- CSE K-12 Outreach
- CSE Ambassadors
- Engineers Without Borders
- Minnesota Environmental Engineers, Scientists, and Enthusiasts
- National Society of Black Engineers
- Science and Engineering Student Board
- Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
- Society of Women Engineers
- Solar Vehicle Project
- Air and Waste Management Association
- American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists
- American Council of Engineering Companies
- American Council of Engineering Companies-MN chapter
- American Public Works Association
- American Solar Energy Society
- American Water Works Association
- Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo Engineering
- Environmental Career Center
- Environmental Career Opportunities
- Federal Government Jobs
- Institute of Professional Environmental Practice
- Water Environment Federation
Q&A with Sherry Van Duyn, President, Landmark Environmental, LLC
What do you do?
As president of a small business, my responsibilities are two-fold:
As president, I manage the company including board meetings, year end calculations, monthly workload meetings, and brownbag education meetings. I also oversee all company activities, including production, marketing, accounting and cash flow, legal, human resources and company morale, hiring, contracts, and insurance. My key strategy is bringing on new junior partners and project management and education.
As project manager, I manage a wide variety of environmental assessment, investigation, response action plan, design, and cleanup projects for a variety of clients. (Projects include brownfield redevelopment and civil construction projects with contaminated soil, groundwater, and soil vapor.) I also manage asbestos and hazardous building material surveys and design of demolitions of old commercial and industrial buildings.
What's a typical work day?
A typical day is very exciting and busy, and often includes on-site construction meetings, virtual meetings, and working with clients and project teams to move 10 to 15 projects forward or working on proposals for new projects. I review and respond to dozens of emails, write or review reports, review drawings, prepare investigation or remediation cost estimates. I have a master to-do list with everything I need to get done over time, and a shorter to-do list for the week.
Often, days go by without finishing any tasks because of the need to answer phone calls and emails, and coordinating work. Then, there are administrative tasks such as preparing invoices, reviewing insurance or contracts, planning the company party, human resource issues, interviews, workload, company meetings, etc. There are also meetings and emails for being on a professional association board.
What qualities are important for this position?
Good communication (verbal and written), the ability to prioritize and reprioritize tasks as conditions change, being able to jump from one project to the next, seeing the big picture and delving into details, working well with clients, staff, subcontractors, and contractors, and networking with associations or other groups.
What about technical skills?
Reading technical plans and specifications, reading volumes of previous investigations and cleanups—and boiling them down and creating a strategy for the redevelopment, investigation and remediation cost estimating, contaminated soil design, vapor mitigation design, permitting, ACAD and/or GIS, understanding GIS/survey information, stormwater issues related to contaminated soil and groundwater, groundwater modeling, review of lab reports and comparison to cleanup goals, understand state and federal regulatory investigation and cleanup guidance, etc.
What part of your job is most satisfying?
Working with people to solve complicated problems. By working with a team, you can solve tough problems with better solutions.
Technical areas that I'm not an expert in, but then I tap into others to understand those issues. Every project has a really tough part to work through and you don't know when it will hit or what the problem will be—that's when you buckle down and talk to others to help solve it, brainstorm, etc.
What training is there for your position?
Continuous education, including OSHA HAZWOPER Health and Safety Training and Annual Refreshers, Minnesota Brownfields (educational forums include vapor intrusion, PFASs, regulatory updates, etc.), MPCA offers consultant or education training, Department of Employment and Economic Development has brownfield education, ACAD training, Professional Associations (MN Brownfields, Society of American Military Engineers, ASCE, etc.), brownbag lunches by laboratories, site work contractors, technical remediation contractors, etc., business-related training such as human resources, accounting, business development, insurance, legal, etc.
What are your possible career paths now?
I could work at a wide variety of places including government (state, federal, local), other consultants, industry, nonprofits, etc. I could go up in responsibility, lateral to a different company, or consider something new. I also could join and be active in many professional associations—a good way to connect with different companies and disciplines.
Advice for current students?
Do it! I have been challenged and excited every day of my career. It has been rewarding—all the interesting people and projects that I've had the opportunity to work on. My major gave me a purpose in life, to help with assessment, investigation and remediation of contaminated properties.
Any other advice you'd like to share?
Work really hard in the beginning of your career. Take on a wide variety of projects. There is something to learn on all projects. If someone asks you to do something, say yes as much as you can.
Join associations and be active—like joining committees or being on the board. Give back to the University of Minnesota (UMN) by speaking in classes, answering surveys, donating money—these are all great networking opportunities. The UMN gave me my start on a very successful career, and I can't thank them enough. And the UMN is even better today than they were when I graduated.
While you’re still in school, it is important to do internships during your junior and senior year. Multiple internships help you learn about different areas of engineering, makes you more competitive to getting your first job, or being offered a job at your internship company. In addition, I would recommend that you take your Fundamentals in Engineering exam during your senior year.