Environmental engineers combine the skills of an engineer and a scientist to resolve issues affecting the planet and ecosystem. They may devise pollution controls at a construction site, or improve recycling and waste disposal plans at an existing facility. Usually, new environmental engineers will join the work force with a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering or a related field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for the 50,350 environmental engineers employed nationwide as of May 2011 was $83,340. However, a starting salary is more likely to be in line with the 25th percentile wage of $61,560 or even the 10th percentile salary of $48,960.
The largest number of environmental engineers, 14,210, worked in the public sector for federal, state or local governments. According to the bureau, these engineers earned $78,060 a year on average, with the 25th percentile paid $61,190 or less and the 10th percentile paid $48,430 or less. The second-largest number, 13,340, worked for engineering firms. These environmental engineers earned an average salary of $84,240, with beginning salaries likely in line with the 25th or 10th percentile figures of $61,550 or $50,100, respectively.
The state with the most environmental engineers was California, according to the bureau, with 6,000 of these professionals finding employment inside its borders. The mean annual wage in the Golden State was $91,050, with starting salaries more likely to align with the 25th percentile, at $66,850, or even the 10th, at $54,620. The second-largest state in terms of number of environmental engineers was Florida, with 3,130. These workers earned a mean annual wage of $69,620, with the 25th percentile making $44,800 and the 10th earning $36,640.
According to the bureau, job growth for environmental engineers was estimated at 22 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the national average for all jobs. Those starting out in the profession may benefit from governmental interest in water efficiency and site cleanup, as well as increased oversight and regulation of industry.