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Working as an Environmental Engineer

Job Description

Environmental engineers help maintain clean and healthy surroundings through the protection of air, soil, and water quality.

Working as an Environmental Engineer you perform the following duties:

  • Assess the environmental impact of government and private sector projects
  • Advise companies on environmental laws or policies that affect their projects
  • Create project plans to clean up air, water, soil contamination
  • May help design and build landfills or water filtration and sewage treatment
  • May be involved in the treatment and storage of toxic materials

Sources: WorkBC, Career Profile for NOC 2131Career Cruising database (Profile for Environmental Engineer)

Industry Overview

Environmental engineering is a new type of engineering that is related to civil engineering, chemical engineering, environmental sciences, and other related disciplines. You may be involved in a wide variety of projects and activities.

The environmental engineering sector is one of the most promising areas for employment opportunity growth. Protecting the environment has become a major concern that has generated new activities and job openings.

Job Outlook in BC

In British Columbia, environmental engineers are considered to be a specialization within the field of civil engineering.

Job prospects for Civil Engineers (NOC 2131)

job prospects for civil engineers

Chart from WorkBC

WorkBC provides job openings in BC regions from 2015-2025:

Region Expected # of
Job Openings
Average Annual
Employment
Growth
Expected
Increase in
Employment
Vancouver Island 300 0.6% 55
Lower Mainland /Southwest 2450 1.3% 890
Thompson-Okanagan 340 2.8% 165

You can learn more about working as an environmental engineer from:

Types of Employers

Environmental engineers work for:

  • government agencies
  • engineering consulting firms
  • companies in resource industries such as forestry, mining, petroleum, and pulp & paper
  • environmental companies that deal with problems such as oil spills and toxic chemical leaks
  • property management companies

Salary

In BC, the median annual salary for civil engineers (including environmental) is $75,186. Senior engineers or those in management positions may earn more.

Your salary is affected by your level of education. If you have a bachelor’s degree in engineering you tend to earn less than if you have a master’s degree or PhD.

In addition to your salary, full-time engineers often receive benefits such as pension plans, dental coverage, sick leave, and paid vacations.

Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising

Across B.C. regions you can expect to earn:

hourly regional salary

Source: Job Bank, Wage Report

In its 2016 Report on Members’ Compensation and Benefits, Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia (formerly APEGBC) provides these salary figures:

Mean Lower
Quartile
Median Upper
Quartile
Engineering Consulting – Environmental $92,399 $65,000 $75,000 $115,500
Bachelor’s degree – Base salary – Environmental Engineer $87,446 $85,000

Source: Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia

Working Hours

Engineers work between 8 and 10 hours a day, 40 to 50 hours a week.

You may need to work nights and weekends if an important deadline is approaching.

Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Oral communication and public speaking
  • Planning and organizing
  • Team project work
  • Project management
  • Proposal writing and financial management
  • Committee work- industry ethics

Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or related engineering discipline is required.
  • Master’s degree or doctorate in a related engineering discipline may be required.

Qualifications

This occupation is regulated in British Columbia

This means that if you are working as an engineer you must either:

  • be registered as a Professional Engineer in BC

OR

  • work under the direct supervision of someone who is registered as a Professional Engineer in BC

Licensing Requirements for Civil Engineers

You must be licensed by Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia (formerly APEGBC) to use the title “Engineer.” This allows you to approve engineering drawings and reports and to practise as a professional engineer (P.Eng.).

Registration requires:

  • graduation from an accredited educational program
  • four years of supervised work experience in engineering
  • successfully passing the professional practice examination
  • completion of the law and ethics seminar

Internationally trained engineers: if you have completed your P. Eng application process you may qualify as a “Provisional Member” with Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia. This designation provides member status to internationally trained engineering graduates who have completed the academic, experience, professionalism, character, and residency requirements.

For more information:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily, the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Also available in print at the Central Library
    NOTE:
    You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a wide range of different job titles that are relevant.

For Environmental Engineers, look for these related job titles:

      • Environmental Consultant
      • Municipal Engineer
      • Water and Sewer Engineer
      • Irrigation and Drainage Engineer
      • Ocean Engineer
      • Pollution Control Engineer
      • Public Health Engineer
      • Systems Treatment Engineer

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “environmental engineering” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, choose the following links:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for professional engineers in BC and Canada provide information & assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals & Books

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals or books related to your profession. Examples at Central Library:

  • Canadian Environmental Resource Guide
    Available at VPL Central Library 363.70025 C21
    Canada’s most complete listing of environmental associations and organizations, government regulators, product and service companies.
  • Innovation / Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia
    Also available at the Central Library, 620.5 B86