Cailyn, Tennessee asked Sharon Kenny, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

AddedWednesday, December 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Info about Environmental Engineering
Hello! I'm in middle school and we have to research a career that intrests us. I love helping the earth and I love math so I found environmental engineering to be exciting. I have a few questions for you: 1. How much does a starting environmental engineer make? 2. What classes are important for this job? 3. What sort of personality is ideal for your position? 4. What other general information should I know? Thank you for your help! - Cailyn
  • Sharon Kenny , US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    Answered Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Hello Cailyn, It is so great to know that there are girls like you and me, who absolutely love math! Oh, your words in your message made my day! You are right: environmental engineering is an exciting career! Having the responsibility of helping the earth and its environment is an awesome job to have; I have been doing it for over 10 years, and I enjoy every minute of it. If interested in what I do as an environmental engineer, I invite you to watch a career presentation I gave online for the GLOBE program. You can find the video here:, from 06:10 to 28:35.

    1. The starting salary varies significantly with the sector that hires you. For example, a private consulting firm like CH2M Hill or Tetra Tech could pay an annual starting salary around 50,000 USD while an oil and gas corporation could provide double that amount. The federal government also hires environmental engineers, and those who have little or no work experience would be hired under the GS-05 annual rate, which is 35,657 USD for the first year. If you graduate with honors or you acquired some work experience while studying for your bachelors degree, you could be hired as a GS-07 and earn 44,176 USD your first year. (

    2. The universities that have engineering degrees accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) follow a curriculum that includes courses such as calculus-based physics, chemistry, differential equations, air pollution, economics, fluid mechanics, engineering design, computer programming, among others. The following URLs correspond to the undergraduate curriculum for a bachelors degree in environmental engineering at different universities:

    3. I think that the most important trait a person can have for pursuing a degree in engineering is perseverance. Willingness to try and try again is essential to succeeding in anything, including engineering. Other personality traits include self-discipline, secure high self esteem, and self-motivation. You will need to develop analytical skills, attention to detail, and confidence. Last but not least, it is important to practice integrity, tolerance, and possess a strong work ethic.

    4. I think it is very important to become a wholesome person as you move forward towards your goals of becoming an environmental engineer. As important as it is to take as many AP courses as possible when you start high school while maintaining excellent grades, it is critical that you also join school activities and clubs. Take on leadership roles within those clubs, learn a new language, play an instrument, exercise and do sports, and volunteer as much as possible at your school and your community.