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Environmental Engineering vs Environmental Science


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#1 wintermom

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 12:26 PM

Anyone studied or have a child studying for either of these degrees? My dd is curious about the difference in careers in these fields, and how the focus differs. 


Edited by wintermom, 16 May 2017 - 12:26 PM.


#2 Hilltopmom

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 12:51 PM

Do not go environmental science. Go engineering.

This is dh's field. Going on 25 years now. (His actual degree is water resources/ geology, but he's worked as an environmental consultant or engineer for the entire time). I was a Bio major & also did some environmental work with him in the early days. We have a lot of friends in the field too.

He has worked for environmental consulting firms, landfills, industry.

Environmental science is too general & kind of "the" field for crunchy environmentally minded kids to go into. But the graduates have a hard time getting decent jobs.
All of the places dh has worked get tons of resumes from ES kids, for environmental openings, they just throw them out.

They've had a few as interns but never hire them. They want engineers. He always feels bad cause they've had smart kids, but he tells them all to switch majors or go to grad school for something more specific.

Engineers tend to be project managers, design remediation & other systems, supervise contractors at clean up sights, managers in environmental departments in large industry, liaisons with state depts of conservation, write reports based on environmental findings, etc

ES undergrad degrees, much like ecology, biology, geology, botany, can be found: working for a lab running specimens, collecting samples for an environmental consulting firm (i.e.- driving out to a site & filling & labeling water collection bottles), watching at the back of a drill rig when a new well is being drilled to check for contaminants, working for a non profit doing environmental Ed for school kids or summer groups, working as an "environmental tech". Low paid.
This is the type of work dh started his career doing.

Obviously, these are broad generalizations.

Dh does not have an engineering degree so many jobs he was qualified for from experience he could not have (require certification). But, In a weird career path, he has worked as an engineer & has an engineer position currently, without being an engineer. That's rare.

He's actually trying to fill an environmental position under him right now & isn't even considering ES degrees.

Hope that helps.
She can also look into engineering tech programs, as another option.

Edited by Hilltopmom, 16 May 2017 - 01:43 PM.

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#3 Arcadia

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 01:33 PM

My first degree is in civil engineering and environmental engineering falls under that as my alma mater does not have an environmental engineering bachelors program. The environmental engineering modules for civil engineering were chemistry heavy for the university I went to. Many classmates ended up working for the petrochemical industry as the pay is good. Getting a professional engineer certification is useful in this field.

If you are in Canada look to see if the environmental engineering program is accredited under Engineers Canada https://engineerscan...edited-programs

If you are is US, check ABET http://main.abet.org...gramsearch.aspx
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#4 amy58103

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 03:14 PM

In very general terms:  A scientist observes, researches, and runs experiments to better understand how/why something happens.  An engineer uses the knowledge gained from science to design a solution to a problem.

 

For example, an environmental scientist observes the fish population in a river is decreasing and then after performing some research and experiments, determines it’s due to contaminants leaking from an adjacent coal ash storage pond.  After being threatened with a fine from the EPA, the owner of the pond hires an environmental engineer to design a barrier system to be located between the existing pond and the river to prevent the contaminants from reaching the river. 

 

A scientist almost always needs advanced degrees to make a decent living wage.  An engineer can usually get a good job with a bachelor’s degree (although a master’s degree is becoming more common).  Typically, the need (i.e. the number of jobs) for engineers is greater than the need for scientists.


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#5 wintermom

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 08:22 AM

In very general terms:  A scientist observes, researches, and runs experiments to better understand how/why something happens.  An engineer uses the knowledge gained from science to design a solution to a problem.

 

 

This is exactly the vibe I got. The engineering job sounds way more exciting.



#6 wintermom

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 08:34 AM

Thanks, everyone! Your posts have been very helpful.  Luckily our local university has an accredited program, so she wouldn't have to travel. 

 

Now, the only thing is to convince her that she can have a ton of fun volunteering or living with hairy creatures, instead of studying about them.  :laugh:   

 

Sadly, it doesn't look like typical engineering program allow a student to have a music minor or double major. She might prefer to continue her music education "on the side" rather than pursuing a degree.


Edited by wintermom, 17 May 2017 - 08:36 AM.


#7 Arcadia

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 10:05 AM

Sadly, it doesn't look like typical engineering program allow a student to have a music minor or double major. She might prefer to continue her music education "on the side" rather than pursuing a degree.


My alma mater offered engineering degrees with minor in Business or Law when I was there in early 90s. Now they have more choices of minor. My nephew who is graduating this month is in both the university orchestra playing the saxophone and jazz band playing the electric guitar. He is not interested in a music minor but I believe it could have been negotiated because he has the time and the music faculty is next to engineering faculty so a short walk to attend lectures.

Look at how the semesters are scheduled for co-op and internships. Also whether the university offers night classes and summer academic term. Those are good for doing classes in the minor even though it would be better to do internships in summer than academics.
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#8 Gr8lander

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Posted 17 May 2017 - 06:58 PM


 

Sadly, it doesn't look like typical engineering program allow a student to have a music minor or double major. She might prefer to continue her music education "on the side" rather than pursuing a degree.

 

Engineering would be tough to combine with music, just because both majors have so many requirements! A minor might be doable, depending on the school. :-)


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#9 wintermom

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 08:28 AM

Engineering would be tough to combine with music, just because both majors have so many requirements! A minor might be doable, depending on the school. :-)

 

It does make sense, as they are both very full programs with very little common courses between them. 

 

The engineering presentation my ds and I attended showed highlights from their annual theatre and music gala. There are a lot of artistically talented students in engineering. Too bad they don't have more opportunities to balance their creative talents with engineering. It's almost as if there is an intentional line drawn in the sand, "Thou shalt NOT combine formal arts training with our engineering program!"  It's fine if you can draw amazing diagrams for your engineering courses, but heaven forbid you wanting to take a drawing course for credit. ;)


Edited by wintermom, 18 May 2017 - 08:31 AM.


#10 StephanieZ

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:02 PM

EE -- get a job. Make bank. Swing over to another ENGR field pretty easily if interests or job prospects lead.

 

ES -- don't get a job. Make nada. Work for minimum wage or wait tables. 

 

 

Google up data on the job fields / salaries / etc, and you'll see the differences quite quickly. 

 

So far as what you study in school . . . ES will mostly be biology, geology, etc. EE will be lots of hard core engineering classes. ES will be MUCH easier. Filled with mostly environmental idealists and earthy hikers/rock climbers/Sierra Clubbers. (I was one, so that's not an insult.) EE will be hard core engineering classes (math/physics/engineering in addition to the bio and chem and geology). 

 

If the kid isn't decided by a little googling on job prospects and salaries and looking at the course plans (Can she handle the EE track? Lots of kids can't.), then I'd suggest choosing a school that has both, getting into the ENGR school and taking classes first year that keep all the options open. It'd be EASY to go from EE to ES, but start in ES and go to EE, and she'll likely be well behind the track and may have lost a "wasted" semester or two. 

 

FWIW, I have a BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. In my day, 25 years ago, that was the "hardest science" of the earth/ecology type degrees at my university. There were 5 bio degrees offered plus ES. ES was the incredibly easy major ... no hard science classes (the "easy" nursing bio/chem instead of the "hard" pre-med ones . . . no calculus or other advanced math . . .) Things might have changed, but "in my day" ES was a junk degree. I'd look closely at the course requirements at the schools you consider, and make sure that the degree plan requires the "hard" science classes, etc, or else it'd definitely be in the junk category, so far as I'm concerned. (I also have a MS in Ecology/Forestry and had similar negative impressions of the ES students I TA'ed for as a teaching assistant. Dumb as dirt, for the most part. And, for the record, I know a BRILLIANT girl (friend of my dd's) who is majoring in ES . . . so I know some really smart kids choose it. I think it's a crying shame, and I fear for her job prospects and future. Also, I'm super crunchy and a huge fan of the environment. I just wouldn't major in ES, at least not at the schools I'm familiar with and not with the job prospects I'm familiar with. 

 

 

 


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#11 Arcadia

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 02:16 PM

It's almost as if there is an intentional line drawn in the sand, "Thou shalt NOT combine formal arts training with our engineering program!" It's fine if you can draw amazing diagrams for your engineering courses, but heaven forbid you wanting to take a drawing course for credit. ;)

Architecture has many drawing modules.

I have a friend who is an accountant but he draws well enough to be a freelance cartoonist while in high school. His high school calculus and physics textbooks are filled with drawings better than hallmark cards and newspaper comic strips. He sat in the front row of the lecture halls so we were happily entertained by his doodling. He aced his math and science classes nonetheless.

Does the university you visited has extramural classes? My husband and I took German 1 and German 2 as extramural classes and those classes are listed in our engineering transcripts.

Edited by Arcadia, 18 May 2017 - 02:18 PM.


#12 wintermom

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 09:30 PM

EE -- get a job. Make bank. Swing over to another ENGR field pretty easily if interests or job prospects lead.

 

ES -- don't get a job. Make nada. Work for minimum wage or wait tables. 

 

 

Google up data on the job fields / salaries / etc, and you'll see the differences quite quickly. 

 

So far as what you study in school . . . ES will mostly be biology, geology, etc. EE will be lots of hard core engineering classes. ES will be MUCH easier. Filled with mostly environmental idealists and earthy hikers/rock climbers/Sierra Clubbers. (I was one, so that's not an insult.) EE will be hard core engineering classes (math/physics/engineering in addition to the bio and chem and geology). 

 

If the kid isn't decided by a little googling on job prospects and salaries and looking at the course plans (Can she handle the EE track? Lots of kids can't.), then I'd suggest choosing a school that has both, getting into the ENGR school and taking classes first year that keep all the options open. It'd be EASY to go from EE to ES, but start in ES and go to EE, and she'll likely be well behind the track and may have lost a "wasted" semester or two. 

 

FWIW, I have a BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. In my day, 25 years ago, that was the "hardest science" of the earth/ecology type degrees at my university. There were 5 bio degrees offered plus ES. ES was the incredibly easy major ... no hard science classes (the "easy" nursing bio/chem instead of the "hard" pre-med ones . . . no calculus or other advanced math . . .) Things might have changed, but "in my day" ES was a junk degree. I'd look closely at the course requirements at the schools you consider, and make sure that the degree plan requires the "hard" science classes, etc, or else it'd definitely be in the junk category, so far as I'm concerned. (I also have a MS in Ecology/Forestry and had similar negative impressions of the ES students I TA'ed for as a teaching assistant. Dumb as dirt, for the most part. And, for the record, I know a BRILLIANT girl (friend of my dd's) who is majoring in ES . . . so I know some really smart kids choose it. I think it's a crying shame, and I fear for her job prospects and future. Also, I'm super crunchy and a huge fan of the environment. I just wouldn't major in ES, at least not at the schools I'm familiar with and not with the job prospects I'm familiar with. 

 

Thanks so much for this. It's exactly like what I was thinking - if you start in the harder science and math courses you can pretty much go anywhere, but if you start in the easier ones it's such a tough road to get back up to the harder levels.  

 

Hopefully within the next year my dd will have a clearer picture of which path exactly she wants to pursue. For now it's all pretty fuzzy.


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#13 hopskipjump

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 11:20 PM

When my dd was deciding between these exact two majors, she was told (by 100% of the people she asked) that she should ABSOLUTELY do EE and shouldn't even consider ES. The ES degree is a catch-all for kids who are nature-loving, save-the-world types - and there are gobs of them & the jobs they are offered afterwards (if they can find work relating to their field) pays a pittance. What StephanieZ says is pretty much exactly what dd was told - many, many times.

 

In the end, my dd chose something entirely different, but EE was the second-option-standing.

 

EE -- get a job. Make bank. Swing over to another ENGR field pretty easily if interests or job prospects lead.

 

ES -- don't get a job. Make nada. Work for minimum wage or wait tables. 

 

 

Google up data on the job fields / salaries / etc, and you'll see the differences quite quickly. 

 

So far as what you study in school . . . ES will mostly be biology, geology, etc. EE will be lots of hard core engineering classes. ES will be MUCH easier. Filled with mostly environmental idealists and earthy hikers/rock climbers/Sierra Clubbers. (I was one, so that's not an insult.) EE will be hard core engineering classes (math/physics/engineering in addition to the bio and chem and geology). 

 

If the kid isn't decided by a little googling on job prospects and salaries and looking at the course plans (Can she handle the EE track? Lots of kids can't.), then I'd suggest choosing a school that has both, getting into the ENGR school and taking classes first year that keep all the options open. It'd be EASY to go from EE to ES, but start in ES and go to EE, and she'll likely be well behind the track and may have lost a "wasted" semester or two. 

 

FWIW, I have a BS in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. In my day, 25 years ago, that was the "hardest science" of the earth/ecology type degrees at my university. There were 5 bio degrees offered plus ES. ES was the incredibly easy major ... no hard science classes (the "easy" nursing bio/chem instead of the "hard" pre-med ones . . . no calculus or other advanced math . . .) Things might have changed, but "in my day" ES was a junk degree. I'd look closely at the course requirements at the schools you consider, and make sure that the degree plan requires the "hard" science classes, etc, or else it'd definitely be in the junk category, so far as I'm concerned. (I also have a MS in Ecology/Forestry and had similar negative impressions of the ES students I TA'ed for as a teaching assistant. Dumb as dirt, for the most part. And, for the record, I know a BRILLIANT girl (friend of my dd's) who is majoring in ES . . . so I know some really smart kids choose it. I think it's a crying shame, and I fear for her job prospects and future. Also, I'm super crunchy and a huge fan of the environment. I just wouldn't major in ES, at least not at the schools I'm familiar with and not with the job prospects I'm familiar with. 

 


Edited by hopskipjump, 21 May 2017 - 11:21 PM.

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#14 Carrie12345

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 05:46 AM

I have zero direct experience with the fields, but now I'm feeling kind of bummed out!  The internets still claim that ES will experience continued job growth with salaries over $60k.

 

I have young environmentalists who probably won't major in it, one because she never wants to relocate (though she does have a strong local network in that field, but still) and the other because she's considering the arts. Frankly, I'd love for her to choose ES, considering how worried I am about my oldest being a music major!!!



#15 wintermom

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 10:40 PM

I have zero direct experience with the fields, but now I'm feeling kind of bummed out!  The internets still claim that ES will experience continued job growth with salaries over $60k.

 

I have young environmentalists who probably won't major in it, one because she never wants to relocate (though she does have a strong local network in that field, but still) and the other because she's considering the arts. Frankly, I'd love for her to choose ES, considering how worried I am about my oldest being a music major!!!

 

I'm hoping that my dd will combine the sciences/math and music in her future studies and career. There is so much potential in both. Teaching music and working with animals sounds perfect and possible, though she'll never be rich. ;) 


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