Environmental science course syllabus

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Environmental engineering degree requirements

Environmental Engineering Studies · Connecticut College

Few people defend the environment and safeguard public safety as staunchly as environmental engineers. These scientific-minded professionals oversee pollution control, hazardous waste management, environmental sustainability, and water quality, among other important elements of civilization. They design municipal and industrial systems and research ways to minimize their environmental and health impacts. Environmental engineers also work with governments to establish industrial, safety, and environmental regulations.

The scope of responsibility assumed by environmental engineers underscores the importance of proper training. Environmental engineers need excellent math, engineering, and science skills. Practical experience and licensing are essential, while additional certifications enhance one’s employability and demonstrate highly specialized knowledge. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that entry-level careers in environmental engineering require a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering where most students receive practical training through internships (BLS 2020).

Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS estimates 1,700 new environmental engineering positions will be needed and shows that this occupation is growing at a rate of 3 percent, which is nearly as fast as the national average for all occupations (BLS 2020).

This guide provides a step-by-step path to becoming an environmental engineer in the image of recommendations from the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors Foundation (AEESPF). The steps required to become an environmental engineer are listed along with the time each step typically takes to complete.

FEATURED CIVIL & ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING PROGRAMS

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
Construction Management (MS)
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Sustainable Engineering (MSE)
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SOUTHERN NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY
Online BS – Environmental Science
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Online MSM – Construction Management
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STEP 1: EARN A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN CIVIL OR ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (FOUR YEARS)
Environmental engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree to practice. Prospective students should look for programs accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET accreditation not only verifies an engineering program meets established quality standards and best practices but is required by many graduate programs, licensing boards, professional organizations, and employers. One can earn ABET-accredited degrees online or on campus. Students enrolled in online environmental engineering programs can usually satisfy hands-on, practical requirements within their home communities.

Environmental engineering programs provide the education one needs to be licensed, earn certifications, and succeed in the field. Some, but not all engineering schools offer bachelor’s degrees in environmental engineering specifically. It is not uncommon for future professionals to attend programs in related fields such as civil, chemical, or general engineering before gaining specialized training in graduate school or on the job.

Students are encouraged to find programs that incorporate “co-ops” (i.e., they award credit for structured work experience). Doing so can help students meet future licensing and employment requirements. Some colleges offer combined five-year bachelor’s and master’s degrees, an accelerated option for students which can be more cost-effective than pursuing the two degrees separately.

Admissions Requirements – Environmental Engineering Bachelor’s Programs
Every environmental engineering program establishes its own admissions criteria; more rigorous programs usually have more rigorous requirements. Not surprisingly, highly competitive programs have steeper GPA and exam requirements and might even require an interview. Examples of typical admission requirements from real environmental engineering schools include:

Successful completion of prerequisite high school courses (e.g., physics, chemistry, calculus, algebra, trigonometry)
Minimum high school GPA of 3.0
SAT and ACT scores
Admissions essay or statement of purpose
Typical Courses – Environmental Engineering Bachelor’s Programs
Bachelor’s programs in environmental engineering usually offer a range of classroom, lab, and field-based components. Students balance required general education and core engineering courses with specialized electives. Here are some typical courses in undergraduate environmental engineering programs:

Introduction to Environmental Engineering
Drafting and Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
Introduction to Engineering Fundamentals
Fluid Mechanics
Elements of Geology
Engineering Economy
Transport Processes
Water Quality Control
Chemical Engineering Process Design
Green Engineering
Sustainable Design
STEP 2: EARN A MASTER’S DEGREE IN ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (TWO YEARS)
Master’s degrees in environmental engineering are not necessarily required to enter the field, but forgoing them can limit students’ future professional roles and licensing opportunities. Graduate-level environmental engineering curricula are more advanced and specialized than that of undergraduate programs. Here are just some of the concentrations students pursuing master’s degrees might choose:

Air Pollution
Environmental Chemistry
Environmental Health
Environmental Risk Management
Hazardous and Solid Wastes
Subsurface Contaminant Hydrology
Sustainability
Water and Wastewater Infrastructure
Water Resources
Coastal and Ecological Engineering
Admissions Requirements – Environmental Engineering Master’s Programs
As one might expect, graduate programs in environmental engineering have steeper requirements than bachelor’s programs. The following criteria are examples taken from real schools across the nation. Note that requirements can vary significantly from one school to the next. For instance, some master’s programs only admit candidates with a certain number of years of professional experience, while others admit students fresh out of bachelor’s programs.

An ABET-accredited B.S. in engineering or a related science
Minimum GPA of 3.0 on the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework
Minimum score on the General Aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
Two letters of recommendation
Professional resume or curriculum vitae
A statement of purpose
Typical Courses – Environmental Engineering Master’s Programs
Many students earning master’s degrees in environmental engineering dedicate the first year to core engineering coursework and the second to electives that reflect their interests and/or formal concentrations. Examples of classes include:

Solid and Hazardous Waste Management
Element Analysis
Microclimatology
Microbial Genetics
Marine Microbial Ecology
Coastal Chemical Systems
Water Quality Management
Hydrology
Enfironmental Chemodynamics
Free Surface Flow
Biological Treatment of Recirculating Aquacultural Systems
Fundamentals of Biodegradation
Operations and Processes in Sanitary Engineering
Landfill Design
Natural Wastewater Treatment Systems Design
STEP 3: ESTABLISH PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE (TIMELINE VARIES)
Most environmental engineers cannot practice independently without being licensed. According to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying(NCEES), licensing requirements are set by individual states, which means they can vary. The Council advises candidates to check licensing requirements in the state where they intend to work. Readers can research state requirements through the NCEES.

Some states require environmental engineering students and recent graduates to earn special Engineer in Training (EIT) or Engineer Intern (EI) licenses by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.

Fundamentals of Engineering Exam for Engineers in Training
The FE exam verifies candidates have the foundational safety and engineering knowledge necessary to work in the field. The NCEES offers FE exams in several concentrations, including the FE – Environmental Engineering. According to the Council’s official website, this exam explores knowledge in the following areas:

Math
Probability and Statistics
Ethics and Professional Practice
Engineering Economics
Materials Science
Environmental Science and Chemistry
Risk Assessment
Fluid Mechanics
Thermodynamics
Water Resources
Water and Wastewater
Air Quality
Solid and Hazardous Waste
Groundwater and Soils
Undergraduate environmental engineering curricula are often designed with FE exam requirements in mind. Students can usually find this information online or by contacting the academic department overseeing the program.

STEP 4: GET PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD (ONE TO FOUR YEARS)
Environmental engineering graduates who meet state practice requirements—including those related to EIT or EI licensing—are free to enter the field, but only under the direction of Professional Engineers (PEs), who are discussed below. Work and any practical co-op experience completed in bachelor’s or master’s environmental engineering programs prepare new engineers to eventually become PEs themselves. Most board and professional certifications also require a certain number of years in the field.

STEP 5: BECOME A PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER (PE) IN ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (AT LEAST FOUR YEARS)
Like master’s degrees in environmental engineering, a PE license is a voluntary but valuable credential. Professional Engineers typically enjoy higher earnings and advancement potential than non-credentialed peers. They can also practice independently and complete a wider variety of tasks. Among them:

Serving the public directly
Starting private firms
Bidding on government contracts
Managing major projects
Mentoring EIT and EIs
PE Licensing Requirements
Environmental engineers must meet the following criteria to become licensed PEs:

A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
Relevant work experience, typically at least four years
A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam
STEP 6: CONSIDER BOARD AND PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING CERTIFICATIONS (AT LEAST EIGHT YEARS)
Board and professional certifications are additional voluntary, yet highly beneficial credentials. These certifications demonstrate that an environmental engineer is truly an expert in the field, whether at large or within one specialized area. The following are the most common types of advanced certifications.

ASCE Board Certification
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) board certification is a credential for highly skilled engineers. Because environmental engineering is considered a subfield of civil engineering, the ASCE offers board certification in many concentrations relevant to them.

Specializations – Environmental engineers can become certified in the following specializations:

Coastal Engineering
Geotechnical Engineering
Navigation Engineering
Ocean Engineering
Ports Engineering
Water Resources Engineering
Requirements – Eligible candidates must have master’s degrees, PE licenses, and eight years of post-licensure engineering experience. ASCE certifications are overseen by Civil Engineering Certification, Inc. and accredited by Council of Engineering & Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB)

Environmental science jobs

Environmental Engineer - Career Rankings, Salary, Reviews and Advice | US  News Best Jobs

An environmental science degree equips you with the skills and knowledge for a range of jobs in areas such as conservation, sustainability, and environmental research and education

Job options
Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Amenity horticulturist
Commercial horticulturist
Environmental consultant
Environmental education officer
Environmental engineer
Environmental manager
Minerals surveyor
Nature conservation officer
Recycling officer
Sustainability consultant
Waste management officer
Water quality scientist
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Environmental health practitioner
Horticultural consultant
Horticultural therapist
Landscape architect
Town planner
Toxicologist
Transport planner
Water engineer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don’t restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.

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Work experience
Some environmental science degree courses have a placement year option. This provides the opportunity to gain practical industry experience, increase your skills and develop a network of contacts. There may also be options to undertake shorter placements and field trips during your course. You could also apply for summer internships, which are usually available with larger organisations and companies.

Many environmental organisations and charities need help from people willing to carry out voluntary work. After gaining some initial experience, you may be able to progress into more specialist paid employment. It’s also a good idea to get involved in relevant clubs and societies while you’re still at university, take up volunteering roles with conservation organisations, or become active in campaigning groups in your local area.

Volunteering gives you experience that is difficult to gain elsewhere and shows your commitment. Some students attend conferences and debates on environmental concerns, subscribe to relevant magazines and journals or go travelling. All these experiences will make you more attractive to an employer.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers
Opportunities for environmental science graduates can be found in the environmental science and wider biology sectors. Typical employers include:

local authorities
environmental protection agencies such as the Environment Agency (EA) and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
UK government departments, such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
environmental monitoring organisations
environmental consultancies
nature conservation organisations
charitable trusts, such as Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage.
There are also opportunities available in the utilities sector with water companies and waste management companies, in planning and surveying, the media, and in environmental education and research.

Find information on employers in environment and agriculture, energy and utilities, and other job sectors.

Employers hiring environmental science graduates now
Graduate Sustainability Consultant & BREEAM Assessor
Method Consulting
Swindon
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Skills for your CV
Studying an environmental science degree provides you with a broad understanding of current environmental issues and challenges on a local, national and global scale. You learn about the impact humans have on the environment and how to manage it.

Areas covered can include environmental biology, geography, geology, chemistry, earth science, soil science and resource management.

Depending on the course/modules you study, you can gain specialist knowledge in areas such as geohazards, wildlife management and sustainable development policy.

Employers are also interested in the broader skills you acquire, such as:

problem-solving and creative thinking skills
competence in developing arguments from scientific, ethical and philosophical perspectives
research skills and the ability to gather, analyse and report on complex environmental data
laboratory skills for analysing environmental data
written and verbal communication skills, including presentation skills
flexibility to work in all kinds of environments, developed through working in the field
numerical and IT skills, developed through the application of statistics and measurement techniques
planning, time management and project-management skills
the ability to work as part of a team on projects, as well as independently.