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Working As a Water/Wastewater Engineer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Getting Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $81,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Water/Wastewater Engineer Do

Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in efforts to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control. They also address global issues, such as unsafe drinking water, climate change, and environmental sustainability.

Duties

Environmental engineers typically do the following:

  • Prepare, review, and update environmental investigation reports
  • Design projects that lead to environmental protection, such as water reclamation facilities, air pollution control systems, and operations that convert waste to energy
  • Obtain, update, and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures
  • Provide technical support for environmental remediation projects and for legal actions
  • Analyze scientific data and do quality-control checks
  • Monitor the progress of environmental improvement programs
  • Inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs in order to ensure compliance with environmental regulations
  • Advise corporations and government agencies about procedures for cleaning up contaminated sites

Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of a hazard and advise on treating and containing it. They also design systems for municipal and industrial water supplies and industrial wastewater treatment, and research the environmental impact of proposed construction projects. Environmental engineers in government develop regulations to prevent mishaps.

Some environmental engineers study ways to minimize the effects of acid rain, climate change, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion. They also collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians, and other engineers, as well as with specialists such as experts in law and business, to address environmental problems and environmental sustainability. For more information, see the job profiles on environmental scientists and specialists, hazardous materials removal workers, lawyers, and urban and regional planners.

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How To Become A Water/Wastewater Engineer

Environmental engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field, such as civil, chemical, or general engineering. Employers also value practical experience. Therefore, cooperative engineering programs, in which college credit is awarded for structured job experience, are valuable as well.

Education

Entry-level environmental engineering jobs require a bachelor’s degree. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. Some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education.

At some colleges and universities, a student can enroll in a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. A graduate degree allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some colleges and universities or to do research and development, and some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree.

Students interested in becoming an environmental engineer should take high school courses in chemistry, biology, physics, and math, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

Many engineering programs are accredited by ABET. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have graduated from an accredited program. A degree from an ABET-accredited program is usually necessary for a person to become a licensed professional engineer.

Important Qualities

Imagination. Environmental engineers sometimes have to design systems that will be part of larger ones. They must be able to foresee how the proposed designs will interact with other components of the larger system, including the workers, machinery, and equipment, as well as with the environment.

Interpersonal skills. Environmental engineers must be able to work with others toward a common goal. They usually work with engineers and scientists who design other systems and with the technicians and mechanics who put the designs into practice.

Problem-solving skills. When designing facilities and processes, environmental engineers strive to solve several issues at once, from workers’ safety to environmental protection. They must be able to identify and anticipate problems in order to prevent losses for their employers, safeguard workers’ health, and mitigate environmental damage.

Reading skills. Environmental engineers often work with businesspeople, lawyers, and other professionals outside their field. They frequently are required to read and understand documents with topics outside their scope of training.

Writing skills. Environmental engineers must be able to write clearly so that others without their specific training can understand their plans, proposals, specifications, findings, and other documents.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as an environmental engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require continuing education in order for engineers to keep their licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own requirements.

After licensing, environmental engineers can earn board certification from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. This certification shows that an environmental engineer has expertise in one or more areas of specialization.

Advancement

As beginning engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move on to more difficult projects and they have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions. Eventually, environmental engineers may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a team of engineers and technicians.

Some may even become engineering managers or move into executive positions, such as program managers. However, before assuming a managerial position, an engineer most often works under the supervision of a more experienced engineer. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

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Average Yearly Salary
$81,000
Show Salaries
$57,000
Min 10%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$116,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Baxter International
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.1 years
How much does a Water/Wastewater Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Water/Wastewater Engineer in the United States is $81,947 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $57,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $117,000.

Real Water/Wastewater Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Water and Wastewater Engineer EBA Engineering, Inc. Laurel, MD Aug 25, 2016 $104,000
Senior Designer .01 Water/Wastewater Engineer) Dewberry Consultants, LLC New York, NY Dec 31, 2015 $97,011
Senior Designer .01 Water/Wastewater Engineer) Dewberry Engineers Inc. New York, NY Dec 31, 2015 $97,011
Water/Wastewater Engineer 4 Black & Veatch Corporation Kansas City, MO Mar 09, 2015 $95,451
Water/Wastewater Engineer Carollo Engineers, Inc. San Diego, CA Oct 31, 2011 $90,847
Water/Wastewater Engineer Carollo Engineers, P.C. San Diego, CA Nov 30, 2009 $89,100
Water/Wastewater Engineer Carollo Engineers, P.C. San Diego, CA Nov 25, 2009 $89,100
SR. Water/Wastewater Engineer URS Corporation Morrisville, NC Feb 08, 2015 $87,341
Water/Wastewater Engineer HDR Engineering, Inc. Portland, OR Feb 19, 2015 $84,781
Industrial Water/Wastewater Engineer URS Corporation Baton Rouge, LA Aug 31, 2014 $84,565
Water and Wastewater Engineer EBA Engineering, Inc. Laurel, MD Nov 05, 2013 $84,240
Water/Wastewater Engineer Aecom Technical Services, Inc. San Francisco, CA Dec 17, 2012 $82,909 -
$109,300
Water/Wastewater Engineer Carollo Engineers, Inc. Fountain Valley, CA Dec 01, 2012 $80,663
Senior Water/Wastewater Engineer URS Corporation Morrisville, NC Feb 08, 2012 $80,475
Water/Wastewater Engineer Entech Engineering P.C New York, NY Nov 25, 2015 $78,400 -
$79,000
Water/Wastewater Engineer Carollo Engineers, Inc. Walnut Creek, CA Sep 21, 2010 $77,970
Water/Wastewater Engineer Carollo Engineers, Inc. Fountain Valley, CA Aug 28, 2010 $75,862
Water/Wastewater Engineer 4 Black & Veatch Corporation Kansas City, MO Sep 03, 2015 $74,085 -
$115,530
Water/Wastewater Engineer HDR Engineering, Inc. Dallas, TX Sep 15, 2010 $73,840
Engineer-Water/Wastewater Aecom Technical Services, Inc. Atlanta, GA May 02, 2012 $65,354 -
$78,500
Water/Wastewater Engineer Ema, Inc. Gig Harbor, WA Sep 22, 2016 $65,000
Water/Wastewater Engineer In Training (EIT) HDR Engineering, Inc. Bellevue, WA Oct 09, 2013 $65,000
Water/Wastewater Engineer In Training (EIT) HDR Engineering, Inc. Bellevue, WA Sep 10, 2013 $65,000
Engineer-Water/Wastewater (Staff Professional III Aecom Technical Services, Inc. Miami, FL Dec 20, 2010 $64,854
Water/Wastewater Engineer Carollo Engineers, Inc. Fresno, CA Sep 05, 2013 $62,923
Water/Wastewater Engineer Westland Resources, Inc. Tucson, AZ Oct 01, 2009 $62,000
Water/Wastewater Engineer In Training (EIT) HDR Engineering, Inc. Lees Summit, MO Nov 09, 2016 $62,000

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Top Skills for A Water/Wastewater Engineer

  1. Pump Stations
  2. Water Treatment Plant
  3. Cost Estimates
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Work included cost estimation for booster pump stations.
  • Managed multiple water and wastewater plant projects including conversion of chlorine gas to sodium hypochlorite at the water treatment plant.
  • Managed and provided cost estimates for project testing.
  • Performed Engineering calculation for wastewater treatment plant
  • Project management included design, Implementation, supervision and troubleshooting.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Water/Wastewater Engineers

  1. Missouri
  2. Alaska
  3. Ohio
  4. Nevada
  5. Vermont
  6. Massachusetts
  7. New Hampshire
  8. California
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Kentucky
  • (46 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (57 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (51 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (201 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (8 jobs)

Water/Wastewater Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

66.7%

Unknown

17.5%

Female

15.8%
Ethnicity

White

41.7%

Asian

26.0%

Hispanic or Latino

14.6%

Black or African American

10.5%

Unknown

7.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

German

25.0%

Polish

25.0%

Water/Wastewater Engineer Education

Schools

Michigan Technological University

7.1%

University of California - Los Angeles

7.1%

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

7.1%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

7.1%

California State University - Sacramento

7.1%

Johns Hopkins University

7.1%

University of Cincinnati

7.1%

University of Arizona

7.1%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.6%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3.6%

Carnegie Mellon University

3.6%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

3.6%

University of California - Davis

3.6%

Colorado School of Mines

3.6%

Ohio State University

3.6%

University of Nevada - Las Vegas

3.6%

MTI College

3.6%

Trinity University

3.6%

North Carolina State University

3.6%

Lamar University

3.6%
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Majors

Civil Engineering

43.6%

Environmental Engineering

20.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

10.9%

Business

3.6%

Chemical Engineering

3.6%

Engineering Science

1.8%

Agricultural Engineering

1.8%

Public Administration

1.8%

Sustainability

1.8%

Communication

1.8%

Interdisciplinary Studies

1.8%

Engineering

1.8%

Construction Management

1.8%

Electrical Engineering

1.8%

Project Management

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.8%

Masters

32.7%

Doctorate

14.5%

Other

5.5%

Certificate

3.6%

License

1.8%
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What Is It Like To Work As A Water/Wastewater Engineer

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Operator

December 5, 2019 on Zippia

What was your job title?

Water/Wastewater Engineer.. Show More

What do you like the most about working as Water/Wastewater Engineer?

It’s been interesting learning how to manage and repair the various parts and pieces of these systems, and I like that I’m not always at a desk ... Show More

What do you NOT like?

Frozen stuff and broken things .. Show More

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