How Long Does Environmental Engineering School Take?

Environmental engineers are professionals who use their skill and knowledge about engineering, soil science and resource sustainability to find solutions to the environmental problems faced by the world today. They evaluate how construction projects and industrial practices impact water sources and what their effects are going to be to the environment as a whole. These engineers undertake various studies to check if hazardous wastes are being treated and disposed of properly and that company programs regarding industrial waste and by products are in accordance with the regulations set forth by the government. Environmental engineers work to help prevent global warming, reduce vehicle emissions and prevent the further depletion of the ozone layer.

The entry point towards a profession as an environmental engineer is a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or related fields. These programs are typically taught in the classroom, laboratory and the field. A bachelor’s degree takes four years to complete. There are some programs that combine studies to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. However, these take five years to finish. Pursuing postgraduate degrees is ideal for those who have plans of teaching at colleges or universities or conducting research and development work.

With the advent of the Internet, more schools are now offering environmental engineering courses online, especially those that award students with a master’s degree. Online study options are ideal for professionals who want to advance to higher roles but don’t want to have to stop their work while returning to school. At Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, for example, the master of science in environmental engineering is a course that can be completed online. Students can choose from a thesis or non-thesis option but will have to be self-disciplined to finish the course and submit assigned tasks on time.

Another postgraduate degree in environmental engineering that can be accomplished online is that of the Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals. Their master’s of environmental engineering program requires the completion of ten courses within five years. As to the number of hours that online students can expect to spend for each online course, the school’s website said: “Online courses are designed to meet the 135-hour minimum requirement for a three credit graduate course. Over a fourteen-week academic term, a student is expected to spend approximately ten hours per week participating in the course and completing all course assignments.”

At Penn State World Campus, the master of professional studies in renewable energy and sustainability systems- sustainability management and policy option is available for those who are seeking higher positions as sustainability engineers, renewable energy manager and others. Students have to complete 32 credits to graduate from the program. If the students finish 12 credits each year, it can take a student a little over two years to finish this master’s program.

Like other engineers, environmental engineers are encouraged to get licensed as a professional engineer. The path towards licensure typically involves obtaining a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering degree, passing two tests and getting relevant work experience. The first test is called the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and is taken as soon as the student obtains his bachelor’s degree. Passing this test gives the environmental engineer the designation of engineer in training (EIT). They are then required to get the work experience in the field of environmental engineering before they become eligible to sit for the second exam called the Principles and Practice of Engineering. Passing this test then makes them professional engineers.

Licensed environmental engineers can also get board certification to show that they are experts in one or more areas in the field. Certification can be obtained from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists.

Career Spotlight: Environmental Engineer

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