Is an Environmental Engineering Degree Worth Your Student Loans?

It’s perfectly normal to find yourself contemplating where not to waste your student loans. This is especially true when you have all the college degrees laid out in front of you, not even knowing what opportunities they have for you. It is thus important to plan well, as that will determine your long-term satisfaction without regrets. One option you have is a degree in Environmental Engineering.

There is a demand for Environmental Engineers to work, as the world always needs someone to mitigate the effects of potentially hazardous substances or occurrences. With this unique skillset comes a competitive salary that will probably take a chunk off your shoulders with those student loans.

In this article, we will examine Environmental Engineering to the teeth.We will unpack everything it offers so that you will be guided and informed in your decision. Let us embark on the jungles and fields of this degree and decide whether it is worth your student loans.

What is an Environmental Engineering Degree?

As an overview, a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering means a field of study that combines principles of engineering, science, and environmental management to address environmental challenges and promote sustainable development. The focus of this profession is on finding innovative solutions to protect and improve the environment, while also ensuring the health and safety of the community.

Students pursuing this degree are expected to take away knowledge in water and wastewater treatment, air pollution control, solid waste management, environmental impact assessment, and sustainable resource management systems. They learn how to design and implement systems and technologies that mitigate environmental pollution, conserve natural resources, and promote environmental sustainability.

Environmental engineers are crucial in safeguarding the environment and addressing pressing issues like climate change, water scarcity, and pollution. They work on projects related to renewable energy, waste management, sustainable infrastructure, and ecological restoration. With their expertise, they contribute to creating a cleaner and healthier world for current and future generations.

How Long Will It Take to Finish a Degree in Environmental Engineering?

A bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering typically takes four years to complete. However, some students may choose to take longer to complete their degree, such as if they are working part-time or taking on additional coursework. There are also some accelerated programs that can allow students to complete their degree in three years.

The coursework for a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering typically includes courses in math, science, engineering, and environmental science. Students will also complete a capstone project, which is a real-world engineering project that allows them to apply the skills they have learned in their coursework.

After completing this bachelor’s degree, students can go on to work in a variety of fields, such as government, industry, or consulting. Environmental engineers can also pursue graduate degrees, such as a master’s degree or a Ph.D., to further their careers.

Career Path for Environmental Engineering Graduates

Environmental engineering offers a promising career path with steady growth and ample job opportunities in the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a projected  4% growth rate from 2021 to 2031 and around 3,400 job openings each year, students can make a meaningful impact in addressing environmental challenges while enjoying a fulfilling career.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering?

After graduating, you’ll have a variety of career options to choose from. You can work in government agencies, industry, or consulting firms providing technical consulting services. Some common jobs for environmental engineers include:

Air Quality Engineer 

Engineers who study the quality of air and keep an eye on both indoor and outdoor air for the safety of human health. They gather samples and do chemical examinations. To make sure that environmental regulations are followed such as the quality of air, making sure that it is ideal for new or existing development, they could collaborate with architects and building designers. To make sure that businesses follow environmental standards, they also keep an eye on emissions and consult with both government and private organizations.

Water Resource Engineering

The enormous duty of ensuring that the management and planning of the existing water supply are appropriately leveraged and remain safe to use for as long as possible may fall to water resource engineers. They may also be involved in water treatment to raise the quality of the water for a variety of purposes, including recreational, commercial, and industrial ones.

Energy Systems Engineer
Engineers of energy systems are in charge of maintaining and enhancing the energy systems in factories, buildings, and other locations. They work to increase energy efficiency and research how it affects the economy, the environment, and climate change.

Waste Management Specialist

System development and administration are the responsibilities of waste management professionals. They put an emphasis on recycling, trash reduction, and environmental preservation. They focus on establishing objectives, putting policies into effect, and gauging how effectively the plans are working.

Job Outlook After Completing a Degree in Environmental Engineering

By 2031, it is expected that there will be 45,800 projected employment; riding on the government projection that demand for environmental engineers will be optimistic in the years to come. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of environmental engineers will grow 4% from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations when compared. 

How Much Do Environmental Engineers Earn?

Environmental Engineers are tasked to be the guardians of the environment that we live in. With that responsibility comes a great salary, as they are among those professionals earning high salaries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in May 2021, Environmental engineers earned a median annual salary of $96,820 in the US. The richest 10% made more than $153,200, while the lowest 10% made less than $59,820, an awesome prospect for future Environmental Engineers.

Air Quality Engineer 

Surveys from the government are one thing to look at when we gather data, but this is a specific range of an Air Quality Engineer’s salary from Glassdoor.

Water Resource Engineer

Water Resources Engineers make an enjoyable salary of 76,388 USD average total pay per year in the US.

Are Environmental Engineering Fulfilled and Satisfied at Work?

According to a survey conducted by CareerExplorer, environmental engineers have a career satisfaction rating of 2.9 out of 5 stars, which places them in the bottom 23% of careers in terms of happiness. This disparity in satisfaction may be because of the working conditions in the field.

How Are Environmental Engineering Graduates Faring in the Real World?

We went to Reddit to learn how Environmental Engineers fare in the real world.

Academic Life

This particular Reddit user said that water resources, air, advanced chemistry, and other environmental-based courses are a good idea also to study when you study Environmental Engineering systems.

What do they do, actually?

Commonly, they work to solve environmental challenges and protect the environment. Their goal is to promote a healthy and sustainable relationship between human activities and the environment.

But, according to a Reddit user, he works in consulting and aids businesses with environmental compliance, according to this Reddit user. He deals with plans, monitoring, reporting, and permits. He works on numerous environmental projects, and uses rental initiatives, including those involving stormwater, hazardous waste, quality of air, and others. He finds their work intriguing and constantly changing, and he appreciates the variety of clients and sectors they work with.

Is a Degree in Environmental Engineering Right for You?

At this point, chances are you may have already decided to take delve into this degree. I advise you to hold off on that major decision and answer this sheet first:

Interest Are you interested in the field of natural sciences?
FoundationDo you have a strong foundation in mathematics and basic knowledge of Ecology?
DedicationAre you willing to dedicate significant time and effort to completing a rigorous curriculum?
ComfortAre you comfortable working with complex systems and difficult sites of work?
Problem-SolvingDo you enjoy problem-solving and critical thinking?
Continuous LearningAre you willing to continuously learn and adapt to new technologies and advancements in the field?
CollaborationAre you prepared to work independently and as part of a team?
ChallengeAre you willing to take on challenging projects and meet tight deadlines?
AptitudeDo you have an aptitude for Nature?
Career AspirationsAre you interested in pursuing a career in Environmental Engineering and willing to invest in higher education?

Factors to Consider in Choosing the Best School for an Environmental Degree 

At this point, maybe you have already made up your mind about choosing this degree. It will be prudent to know what school would be the best for you. So, take time and consider the following factors in choosing the right school for you:


Ensure that the school and its Environmental Engineering program for are accredited by recognized accrediting bodies. Accreditation ensures that the program meets specific quality standards and will be recognized by employers and other institutions.


Review the curriculum to determine if it offers a comprehensive range of courses relevant to engineering education and program educational objectives. Look for courses that cover core subjects such as water and wastewater treatment, air pollution control, and environmental impact assessment.


Research the qualifications and expertise of the faculty members. Look for professors who have relevant industry experience and research expertise in areas aligned with your interests, as they will play a crucial role in your education.

Facilities and Resources 

Consider the availability of state-of-the-art laboratories, research facilities, and equipment. Access to these resources will enhance your learning experience and provide opportunities for hands-on experimentation and research.

Internship and Research Opportunities 

Check if the school offers internships, cooperative education programs, or research opportunities with industry partners or research institutions. Practical experience gained through internships can be invaluable in preparing for this career.

Alumni Network and Industry Connections 

Consider the school’s alumni network and connections with industry professionals. A strong network can provide valuable career guidance general education, mentorship, and job placement opportunities.

Career Services

Evaluate the school’s career services department and its track record in helping graduates secure internships, co-op positions, and full-time employment in some Environmental Engineers work.


Consider the school’s location and the environmental challenges specific to that region. It may provide unique opportunities for fieldwork, research, and networking.

Reputation and Rankings

While not the sole determining factor, consider the school’s overall reputation and rankings in environmental and civil engineers work or related fields. This information can provide insights into the quality and recognition of the program.

Financial Considerations 

Evaluate the cost of tuition, availability of scholarships, grants, and financial aid options. Consider the return on investment in terms of the program’s reputation, alumni success, and potential job opportunities after graduation.

Pros and Cons of a Degree Environmental Engineering Degree

Pros of a Degree in Environmental Engineering

The advantages of choosing this degree boil down to the following:

  • High Demand For Environmental Engineers
  • Good Salaries
  • Opportunity to Make a Difference in the World

Cons of Choosing a Degree in Environmental Engineering

It is not always bright and shining for Environmental Engineering graduates as there are drawbacks to being one which I identified in the following:

  • Long hours
  • Complex work
  • High cost of education

FAQs About a Degree in Environmental Engineering Degree

Is the work of an Environmental Engineer stressful?

These experts work typical 40-hour weeks in industrial plants, offices, or labs. It is also common to see them working on-site near water sources, energy systems, and construction projects. Dealing with serious environmental issues can also be stressful—the health of human systems, and welfare of the earth are not taken lightly.

Do Environmental Engineers travel a lot?

As an entry-level Engineer, you can expect to get a lot of hands-on fieldwork experience. This will involve traveling a lot to different project locations conducting environmental sampling and pilot scale systems.

What do environmental engineers do on a daily basis?

Environmental engineers research environmental issues in the area and create plans to decrease the effects of that problems on the environment. On a daily basis, they collect samples for inspection, develop strategies for new structures or improving established systems, and monitor regulation practices at job sites.

Final Verdict For a Degree in Environmental Engineering Degree

If you’re interested in a career that allows you to make a difference in the world, an Environmental Engineering may be a good choice for you. Environmental engineers are in high demand and can earn good salaries in the long run, especially if you decide to have further specialized studies in this field.

Salary: 9/10

Salaries for Environmental Engineering are competitive and can range from entry-level up to very experienced professionals that have further specialized studies. It is also expected to grow as years will go by, thereby choosing this degree for college is a good endeavor.

Satisfaction: 9/10

Environmental Engineers are among the deeply-satisfied employees in the industry today. Their workload is somewhat heavy but bearable, and they have a lot of opportunities to move up in their career. The purpose they fulfill is one of a kind.

Demand: 7/10

The demand for job roles for Environmental Engineers continues to go up the curve as the world always finds the need for such professionals. This degree is a great choice for those who are looking for great career opportunities and fulfillment.

X-Factor: 8/10

This degree offers a wide range of fields and areas of graduate study to explore such as Air Quality Engineering and Water Resourcing Engineering. It also allows students to pursue further studies in the form of specialized concentrations

Final Score for a Degree in Environmental Engineering: 8.25/10

All in all, this degree offers a wide range of career opportunities and is becoming increasingly valuable in our data-driven world. With a final score of 8.625/10, This is a solid investment for those interested in pursuing a career in data analytics, research, or other related fields.

So, is an environmental engineering degree worth it?

Alternatives to an Environmental Engineering Program

This degree, Environmental Engineering, is worth pursuing for those interested in a career focused on environmental sustainability and solving environmental challenges. However, alternative paths can also provide opportunities in this field. Some examples include:

Environmental Engineering Boot Camps

Several organizations and institutions offer short-term intensive programs or boot camps focused specifically on environmental engineering. These programs provide practical training, hands-on experience, and industry-relevant skills to kick-start a career as an environmental engineer. Examples include boot camps on water and wastewater treatment, quality of air management, or environmental modeling.

Professional Certifications

Obtaining professional certifications can enhance your credentials and demonstrate your expertise in specific areas of environmental engineering. Certifications such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, Certified Energy Manager (CEM), or Certified Environmental Professional (CEP) can showcase your knowledge and commitment to sustainability and environmental practices.

Online Courses and MOOCs

Online platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udemy offer a wide range of courses and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) related to environmental engineering topics. These courses provide flexibility and allow you to learn at your own pace while acquiring knowledge and skills in specific areas of interest.

Professional Associations and Workshops 

Engaging with professional associations like the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) or attending workshops and conferences in the field can provide valuable networking opportunities and access to continuing education resources. These platforms often offer workshops, seminars, and certifications to further develop your skills as an environmental engineer.

Apprenticeships and Internships 

Participating in apprenticeship programs or securing internships with environmental engineering firms or governmental organizations can provide practical, hands-on experience in the field. These opportunities allow you to work alongside experienced professionals, gain industry-specific knowledge, and apply theoretical concepts to real-world projects.

It’s important to note that while these alternatives can provide valuable skills and knowledge, they may not replace the comprehensive education and foundational understanding provided by a formal degree program. However, they can serve as valuable supplements to your educational background and help you gain practical experience and specialization in specific areas of environmental engineering and soil science.

Environmental Science

Environmental scientists play a vital role in understanding and protecting our natural world. The environmental science degree studies the relationships between organisms and their environments, tracking changes over time. Their research provides crucial insights into issues like climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity. These scientists conduct fieldwork to collect samples, perform lab analysis, and develop computer models to deepen our knowledge. Their findings help inform policies and practices that can safeguard ecosystems and human communities. Whether studying remote forests or urban wetlands, environmental scientists devote their careers to elucidating nature’s complex web of life.

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