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Environmental Engineering

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Environmental Engineering Major

Environmental engineering is a major that typically falls into the Engineering category.

There are 4 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in environmental engineering, 98 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 94 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 46 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting an Environmental Engineering Degree?

Environmental engineering is one of the least chosen majors in the country, ranked #139 in popularity. About 1,600 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the field in 2017. Roughly 48% of the graduates are women, and 52% are men.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of environmental engineering majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 6.5%
  • Black or African American: 2.8%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 12.3%
  • White: 64.2%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 7.9%
  • Other Races: 6.2%
Environmental Engineering Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in environmental engineering. About 7.9% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending environmental engineering majors to the U.S. are China, India and Kuwait.

What Will You Learn as an Environmental Engineering Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to environmental engineering to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Environmental Engineering Majors

A major in environmental engineering should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Environmental Engineering Majors

Skills for Environmental Engineering Majors

Environmental engineering majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

Important Skills for Environmental Engineering Majors

Abilities for Environmental Engineering Majors

A major in environmental engineering will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

Important Abilities for environmental engineering Majors

What Can You Do With an Environmental Engineering Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with environmental engineering:

Careers Related to Environmental Engineering
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Environmental Engineers



Product Safety Engineers



Water/Wastewater Engineers



Industrial Safety and Health Engineers



Architectural and Engineering Managers



Fire-Prevention and Protection Engineers



Engineering Professors



Environmental Engineering Major Salary

Environmental engineering majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $93,000 to $114,000. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for an Environmental Engineering Major  ( 93000 to 114000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Environmental Engineering Major Jobs

Some careers associated with environmental engineering may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for environmental engineering careers below.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Environmental Engineering
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Environmental Engineering Programs

There are 98 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, with 1 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is an Environmental Engineering Major Worth It?

The median salary for an environmental engineering grad is $94,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 141% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,094,600 after 20 years!

environmental engineering salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alesia Goosic via License

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