Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Green Job Series: Careers in Environmental Remediation [Second Installment]

Several types of workers are involved in environmental remediation. This installment of The Daily Leap's green job series describes engineering and mapping occupations in environmental remediation.

Engineering and Mapping Occupations

Engineers who work in environmental remediation devise technical solutions for cleaning up pollution. They work closely with scientists and other remediation workers to implement the best methods for remediating polluted areas. They also might be responsible for developing methods to increase safety and to reduce the risk of illness and injury for a company's employees.

Engineers are employed by a variety of organizations, including businesses, government agencies, and consulting firms. Most work in offices or laboratories, but they might travel frequently to remediation sites.

Job Duties

Cartographers and photogrammetrists measure, analyze, and interpret geographic information to create maps and charts. The maps and charts detail areas of contamination, as well as the physical characteristics of the site where remediation will be carried out.

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, and physics to develop remediation techniques. Much contamination is chemical in nature, and many remediation technologies use chemical processes to deal with contaminants.

Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to solve environmental problems. They work to control pollution, clean up polluted areas, and monitor the progress of remediation projects.

Environmental engineering technicians carry out the plans that engineers develop. They test, operate, and, if necessary, modify equipment that is used for the cleanup of environmental pollution. They might collect samples for testing, or work to mitigate sources of environmental pollution. They might also assist in the inspection of the site for compliance with regulations.

Health and safety engineers combine knowledge of health or safety with systems engineering techniques to make sure that chemicals and other products are not harmful. In remediation projects, they ensure that workers are safe from contaminants.

Mining and geological engineers use geology to evaluate potential remediation sites. They study the geology of the local area and work with geoscientists and other scientists and engineers to determine the most effective techniques for remediating a particular area.

Education and Training

Cartographers and photogrammetrists require a bachelor's degree in geography, engineering, or physical science. Some states require cartographers and photogrammetrists to be licensed as surveyors, and some states have specific licenses for photogrammetrists.

Engineers must have at least a bachelor's degree in their specific engineering field. Many engineers are certified as a professional engineer (PE), a certification that requires several years of work experience as well as passing written exams. Employers also value practical experience, so many engineers start out assisting more senior engineers, and with experience, they take on more responsibility and more complex projects.

Environmental engineering technicians typically have an associate's degree from a technical or community college.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) currently does not have wage data specific to the environmental remediation industry. The table that follows shows wages for selected engineering and mapping occupations in the waste management and remediation services industry group for May 2011. The wages shown are median annual wages for the United States as a whole; wages vary by employer and location.

Occupation Median annual wage
Cartographers and photogrammetrists $55,970
Chemical engineers $101,040
Environmental engineers $81,970
Environmental engineering technicians $41,310
Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors $75,770
Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers $84,300

For more detailed information on science occupations in the environmental remediation industry, follow the Occupational Outlook Handbook link.

Next week's environmental remediation industry series installment: Construction and Material-moving Occupations.

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