Monthly Archives: January 2019

man monitoring the bridge

Environmental Engineering Jobs: Availability, Salaries, & More

Environmental engineering jobs are part of the first line of defense against environmental issues such as pollution, climate change, drinking water safety, and environmental sustainability. Environmental engineers serve an important role as protectors of the environment, providers of solutions to environmental problems, and advisors to those in business and government. Let’s learn more about the role they play in the environmental issues affecting our communities.

What Is an Environmental Engineer?

environmental engineer

Environmental engineers use their knowledge about soil science, biology, chemistry, and engineering to solve environmental issues. An environmental engineer works to prohibit, regulate, or reverse environmental damage. They can address issues such as soil, water, and air pollution. They also can solve public health and waste disposal concerns. Finally, they can improve recycling programs. Being an advocate for the environment is only part of the job. An environmental engineer must also know government regulations and how to meet them, all while keeping within a budget and the time constraints of a particular project. An important aspect of the job is analyzing samples and designing treatment for soil, water, and air. A company may hire an environmental engineer as a consultant to help ensure that their project is meeting all required environmental regulations.

What Types of Skills Are Required for Environmental Engineering Jobs?

man  writing on the screen

Environmental engineering jobs require a practical knowledge of regulations. Environmental engineers must be able to be creative in order to problem solve issues with air, soil, and water. They must be able to manage waste and control pollution. Environmental engineering jobs require the use of technology to monitor environmental concerns. Environmental engineers must also know how to apply for permits and maintain plans for projects.

Where Does an Environmental Engineer Work?

man and woman in the river taking some water sample

If an environmental engineer is working on planning and permitting, such as when they do urban and regional planning work, they may be in an office environment. When they work with business, industry, or lawyers, they may be at seminars or meetings presenting their findings. They may also need to be on site to evaluate environmental concerns, which requires being outdoors. Travel may be required for environmental engineering jobs as part of meeting with governmental leaders, business developers, scientists, and lawyers. Sometimes, they must travel to work sites to oversee the cleanup of contamination.

Who Employs Environmental Engineers?

man and women talking reading in the sheet

According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the largest providers of environmental engineering jobs.

  • Engineering Services: 25%
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services: 20%
  • State government (excludes education and hospitals): 15%
  • Local government (excludes education and hospitals): 9%
  • Federal government (excludes postal service): 6% (1)

Typical Tasks Required in Environmental Engineering Jobs

tasks

Below are some duties of an environmental engineer.

  • Design environmental protection plans
  • Obtain permits
  • Prepare reports
  • Develop and maintain plans and procedures
  • Give subject-matter expert support for environmental remediation projects and legal actions
  • Review scientific data
  • Make quality control checks
  • Inspect facilities to ensure compliance with regulations
  • Assist private and governmental representatives in environmental cleanup projects
  • Evaluate environmental programs
  • Prepare studies

Environmental engineers may prepare studies on the effects of hazardous materials in the environment. They may be asked to provide solutions for treating, containing, or removing these hazards. Part of their job may be designing a wastewater treatment facility. Others may evaluate the impact of construction projects on the environment.

What Kind of Schedule Do Environmental Engineers Work?  

schedule

Most people in this field work full time. About 20% of environmental engineers say they worked more than 40 hours a week in 2016. Working in this field requires management of projects and deadlines. It can also require troubleshooting issues that arise, requiring more than the standard 40-hour schedule.

How to Become an Environmental Engineer

owl in a branch

A bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering is a standard career path to environmental engineering jobs. Degrees in mechanical, civil, chemical, or general engineering can also be desirable in this career. Many employers prefer practical experience for their prospects. If you can participate in a cooperative engineering program, which provides college credit for work in the field, you should take that opportunity.

Some educational institutions offer joint bachelor’s and master’s degrees with completion in five years. Some colleges and universities allow those with a graduate degree to instruct or do research at their institutions. Some employers prefer a master’s to a bachelor’s degree, depending upon the position. If you are interested in becoming a consultant, a master’s degree is usually recommended.

Licenses

Licenses

Many employers prefer that environmental engineer candidates graduate from a program that is accredited by an organization called ABET. ABET stands for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. A degree from an ABET program is generally required to become a licensed and professional engineer. However, most entry-level positions do not require immediate licensure.

An environmental engineer can obtain a Professional Engineering (PE) license. This lets the engineer take on greater responsibilities such as managing and reviewing the work of other engineers, approving projects, and working directly with the public. Most states require the following milestones to be met for a PE license.

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) test
  • Pertinent work experience (usually at least four years)
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) test

After a bachelor’s degree is earned, you can choose to take the FE test. If you pass, you are designated as an engineer in training (EIT) or engineer intern (EI). After the work experience requirement is met, EITs and EIs can take the PE test. Each state has its own requirements for licensing. Some states recognize requirements from other states. Many states require continuing education as a requirement for maintaining a license.

Certifications

Certifications

After you obtain your license, environmental engineers can acquire a board certification. This certification is issued by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. It designates the recipient as an expert in one or more specialty areas of study.

What Classes Should I Take in High School?

What Classes Should I Take in High School?

If you are interested in pursuing environmental engineering jobs, you should focus on math and science. Specifically, focus on science classes such as biology, chemistry, and physics. In mathematics, concentrate on algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. High school students can also enroll in engineering summer camps to help them identify important classes and skills needed for this area of study.

What Are Some Important Characteristics of Environmental Engineers?

characteristics

Here are some traits that are important to those entering the environmental engineering field:

Ability to Find Solutions

Ability to Find Solutions

Environmental engineers face issues where they need to multi-task and problem solve. For example, they need to consider the safety of workers on the job site, along with the protection of the surrounding environment. The must forsee issues ahead of time when planning facilities. They must also propose and execute solutions to problems to be successful.

Creativity

Creativity

Environmental engineers must see how systems they design are part of a bigger picture. They must visualize how planned designs will work as part of a larger system which may include people, equipment, and the environment itself.

People Skills

People Skills

Those in environmental engineering jobs must work in a team toward a shared objective. They may work with a diverse group including technicians, scientists, lawyers, business people, and government representatives.

Reading and Comprehension

Reading and Comprehension

In working with business people, lawyers, and others, those in environmental engineering jobs may be asked to review documents outside their breadth of study.

Writing

Writing

Environmental engineers are expected to be competent writers of reports, plans, proposals, and specifications. Because they do work with many people who are not themselves engineers, they must write clearly and concisely so that those outside their field may understand.

Availability, Salary, and Future Environmental Engineering Jobs Outlook

map

According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay in May 2017 for environmental engineer jobs is $86,800. The number of jobs in 2016 was 53,800, with a ten-year job outlook of 8%. This is considered an average growth rate with about 4,400 new jobs created.

Job Satisfaction

cartoon representation a man sitting with books at his side

Part of choosing a career for many is doing something that makes you happy. According to U.S. News, here is how those with environmental engineering jobs rate their job satisfaction.

  • Upward Mobility: above average
  • Stress level: average
  • Flexibility: average

In addition, CNN Money listed B ratings in the categories of “personal satisfaction” and “benefit to society” for environmental engineers.

Career Outlook

Career Outlook

The concern about water usage and safety is a driving factor in the growth of the environmental engineering career outlook. Many government agencies, including those at the state and local levels, require environmental engineers for wastewater treatment and tasks to deal with water efficiency. In regions of the United States where drilling for shale gas is occurring, the treatment and disposal of wastewater produced as a result of drilling is of special concern.

In addition, environmental engineers can work with local utility companies, advising them how to comply with regulations. An example of this situation would be an environmental engineer giving guidance to a coal-burning power plant regarding emissions.

Conclusion

Conclusion

Environmental engineering jobs are essential for the environment and its future. Although some people think of them as environmentalists, environmental engineers are multi-faceted. An environmental engineer can protect the environment through planning a complex system, through remediating a hazardous spill, or by advising others on how to meet the regulations set forth by the government.

glass ball

Environmental Science Jobs: Availability, Salaries, & More

In today's world with its growing concerns about climate change and sustainable development, environmental scientists are in great demand. Environmental scientists can have many roles in both public and private sector companies, so there are many types of environmental science jobs available. Environmental science jobs are available in a range of geographical locations and can include fieldwork, office work, or a combination of both.

As awareness and concern about environmental issues increases, the number of environmental science jobs available will continue to grow, making environmental science a rewarding field with considerable growth potential.

What Is an Environmental Scientist?

Laboratory staff

Environmental scientists apply their skills and knowledge to allow for a better understanding of the environment, to identify current and future environmental issues, and to address those environmental issues.  While the specific education and training of environmental scientists vary, environmental scientists share a number of characteristics in addition to their love of the environment. Some of these characteristics are curiosity, the ability to analyze and interpret data, and excellent written and verbal communication skills. There is a broad range of environmental science jobs. Some environmental scientists are employed under that title while others work in more specialized jobs within the environmental science jobs umbrella. Examples of these specialized jobs include those of environmental engineers, environmental biologists, and environmental geologists. There are also other professions that can be combined with environmental science as with positions in the field of environmental law. 

Environmental scientists work in a variety of settings and with people in many different professions. Environmental science jobs can be office-based, field-based, or some combination of the two. Because of the importance of environmental health, environmental scientists may work with professionals of many kinds. It is not uncommon for environmental scientists to work with corporations in a wide variety of industries, with government officials or programs, or with nonprofit agencies.

Education & Certification Needed for Environmental Science Jobs

Because there is no one job description for an environmental scientist, there is no single education and certification path. For most entry-level environmental science jobs, a bachelor's degree in environmental science or a closely related field is required. Computer skills relating to geography such as digital mapping, remote sensing, and geographic information systems are in high demand. Additionally, computer skills like data manipulation and computer modeling are quite valuable for an environmental scientist. 

checking the microscope

Some environmental sciences jobs require more comprehensive or more specific education and certification. Because of the vast scope of the potential jobs available to environmental scientists, getting a double major, with the second major in an area of study that closely relates to the kind of work you'd like to do as an environmental scientist, can greatly increase your chances of getting the environmental science job you're most interested in. Though some positions do require a master's degree, doctoral degrees in environmental science are generally only required for teaching positions or for select research positions.

In areas where environmental science and another field overlap, training in both fields could be necessary. Environmental law jobs may require that, in addition to completing an environmental studies degree, a potential candidate also be able to practice law. For many environmental scientists who work primarily within corporate environments, additional degrees or certification in finance or business management may prove invaluable.

Environmental Science Job Availability, Salary, and More

There are many different types of environmental science jobs available. Though all of these jobs do share some qualities, there will be variance between different environmental science jobs when it comes to the specific focus, job duties, educational requirements, and salary

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST

checking the microscope

Environmental Scientist Job Description

Environmental scientists could be responsible for many different job duties. One environmental scientist might conduct experiments in waterways to better understand the potential impact of a toxic spill. Another environmental scientist might gather data and create maps to illustrate how different environmental factors, like air pollution or water quality, change over time. A third environmental scientist might study the interaction of people with certain aspects of their environment, like wildlife. These are only a handful of many options.

Environmental Scientist Education

Environmental scientists typically have a bachelor's degree in environmental science or environmental studies.  

Environmental Scientist Salary and Job Outlook

As of 2015, the median wage for environmental scientists was roughly $67,000 annually. The job market for environmental scientists has been projected to increase by about eleven percent between 2014 and 2024.

ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER

filling a container

Environmental Engineer Job Description

Environmental engineers use their knowledge and skills to address environmental issues and concerns. Environmental engineering has many potential applications. Environmental engineers could be involved in the creation and updating of reports, project development, and implementation, the analysis, and interpretation of data, or consulting work.

The job duties of an environmental engineer vary based both on the local environmental concerns and the skills of the environmental engineer. Some possible jobs for environmental engineers include finding innovative ways to reduce waste, assisting in the planning and permitting process for a construction project, or consulting in regard to how air pollution impacts human health and safety. Some environmental engineers work primarily in an office setting while others spend much of their time in the field.

Environmental Engineer Education

Environmental engineers need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering, or in another related engineering field like civil engineering. This field highly values hands-on experience, so internships and cooperative programs that allow work for college credit will help you to be more competitive when applying for environmental science jobs of this nature.

Environmental Engineer Salary and Job Outlook

As of 2012, the median wage for environmental engineers was roughly $81,000 annually. Those with federal government environmental engineering jobs earned roughly $98,000 annually during the same time period. The job market for environmental engineers has been projected to increase by about fifteen percent between 2011 and 2022.

ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGIST

plant tissue culture in a glass container

Environmental Biologist Job Description

Environmental biologists work with such aspects of environmental science as ecological conservation, land and water specialization, and landscape analysis and management. This kind of environmental science focuses heavily on associated disciplines of biology and zoology.

Environmental Biologist Education

Environmental scientists might get degrees relating to environmental design, ecology, and conservation. Landscape architects, for example, pursue degrees in environmental design and architecture.

Environmental Biologist Salary and Job Outlook

Environmental biologists can make varying salaries depending on their career path. The median salary for a landscape architect was roughly $63,000 in 2015. In 2012, the median salary for a conservation scientist was roughly $59,000 annually. Demand for environmental biologists is expected to continue to increase.

ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGIST

at the table checking rock sample

Environmental Geologist Job Description

Environmental geologists focus on soil and water. In this category of environmental science jobs, the scope of work could include monitoring soil and water quality, as well as developing, implementing, or evaluating plans for the protection or remediation of soil and water resources.

Environmental Geologist Education

In addition to their environmental knowledge, environmental geologists need a strong foundation in earth sciences. A degree that includes such disciplines as geology or hydrology would be ideal for this field.

Environmental Geologist Salary and Job Outlook

The median salary for hydrologists in 2012 was roughly $57,000 annually. The median salary for geoscientists in the same period was roughly $90,000 annually. As with other areas of environmental science jobs, the demand for environmental geologists is predicted to increase.

Conclusion

In a world struggling to understand and address the effect of environmental issues, environmental scientists are and will continue to be in demand. Because of the broad range of focus, there are many potential environmental science jobs available. With opportunities to work in the field, in a lab, or in an office, there are environmental science jobs available for people desiring many types of work environments.

checking lava samples

Environmental scientists are needed to gather and analyze data so that our current environmental condition is better known so that we can see how the environmental condition has changed over time, and so that we might predict how the environment will change in the future. Environmental scientists are also needed to develop, implement, and analyze programs for environmental conservation and remediation. In addition, environmental scientists serve as valuable consultants regarding both government policy and human health and safety.

When preparing for a career in the environmental sciences, consider a specialized degree, like environmental engineering, or a dual major, for example, a dual major in environmental studies and biology. You can also choose to get a degree in environmental studies while also earning degrees or certifications in another discipline, for example, both earning an environmental science degree and becoming a lawyer.  

Whatever your choice as far as an educational path, take advantage of any opportunities you have to learn additional skills and get hands-on experience. Consider taking courses to increase your computer skills, your technical writing skills, or your communication skills. If you are able to take advantage of internships or programs that allow you to gain college credit for hours worked that experience will give you a valuable edge in the application process.

solar panel

Should I Consider Using Flexible Solar Panels?

Solar panels can be used for renewable energy since they harness the sun's energy to generate power that can run industries or a home's equipment and lighting. The use of solar panels supplements energy needs, and thus provides an opportunity for homeowners to save on energy costs. The technology is advancing rapidly each year and new developments, such as flexible solar panels, are constantly being released and improved upon.

Whether it is powering the Tesla Gigafactory or providing a reading light in your own living room, solar energy saves money for energy consumers. New flexible solar panels represent a great advancement in renewable energy. But, what are flexible solar panels? This article will walk you through the basics and benefits of flexible solar panels.

What Are Flexible Solar Panels?

silicon wafers

Standard polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panels are typically made of silicon wafers. They are about 200 micrometers thick, which is slightly thicker than a human hair.

To make a “flexible” solar panel, engineers would have to slice the silicon wafers to just a few micrometers. This then would enable the wafers to be ultra-thin, giving solar panels the uniquely convenient property of being flexible.

Flexible solar panels have been around for a while, but they were limited in their flexibility because of the brittleness of conventional electrodes used within the panels. Recently, MIT researchers developed a new method for making the solar panels, and it represented a giant leap in the technology.

Instead of trying to slice down traditional silicon for their solar panel electrodes, MIT researchers found a way they could instead use organic solar cells for graphene electrodes. Graphene is transparent and flexible, meaning it can be used to develop thinner, more stable and flexible solar panels than the ones we used previously.


Thin Film Solar Panels

Current flexible solar panels that most homeowners can get their hands on fall under the category of “thin film panels.”

A thin film solar panel consists of layers over 300 times smaller than standard silicon solar panels. This makes them thinner and can even make the panels somewhat flexible. They are also lightweight and durable, making them an intriguing option for supplying energy for different needs.

THIN FILM SOLAR PANELS

Although more flexible and suitable for certain projects, the flexible solar panels have a lower efficiency in converting solar energy into useable power than rigid silicon-based panels. This, perhaps, is the most common obstacle faced by the product when it is compared to classic solar panels.

The efficiency rating for the average polycrystalline or monocrystalline solar panel is about 14-17%. For thin solar panels, the efficiency is reduced slightly to between 11% and 13%.

The lower efficiency of the flexible panels implies you will need more of them to produce the same amount of energy as traditional solar panels. This can be a barrier to some solar projects, particularly those with limited roof space for installation. Another downside is that they are not a good fit for many home rooftop solar projects, because there may not be enough roof space to produce the desired amount of energy.

If you have ample space or are just looking for a supplemental energy production boost, then we feel the just slightly lower efficiency can be overlooked — especially when you consider how many benefits these flexible panels yield.


Uses

Flexible solar panels can be used in virtually all applications that one could use conventional panels. You can use them for:

  • Low-cost, off-grid PV systems for cabins and homes
  • Their portability makes them useful on-the-go for boats, RVs, autos, etc.
  • Can be used to charge solar batteries
  • Technology can be incorporated into new solar energy consumer products

Benefits of Flexible Solar Panels

satellite

The main benefit of a flexible solar panel is its versatility and ability to fit many types of solar projects. For instance, if your home's roof cannot bear the heavy load of traditional solar panels because of structural concerns, then lightweight flexible panels are your solution. Flexible solar panels will not compromise the structural integrity of your home as they can be shaped to fit the surface. They can even be installed easily on unconventional structures, such as carports.

From a financial standpoint, flexible solar panels require less labor to install, so your cost of installation is likely to be less than it would be if you had used the typically heavy and bulky classic panels that require heavy-duty roof mounting systems.

The lightweight and versatile nature of these panels make them portable, which is beneficial during transportation. The flexible panels can also be folded and rolled, something that is impossible for conventional, rigid solar panels.

Typically, solar panels are manufactured using printing machines that capitalize on the roll-to-roll method. This enables rapid, mass production. Manufacturing flexible panels is affordable compared to conventional solar panels. Besides, the material consumption is low and is recyclable after the life cycle ends. The market for organic solar panels is developing. It is expected that the operational life cycle of solar panels in a few years will support many applications.

Due to their portability and durability, the flexible solar panels are best for smaller solar projects where they may experience wear and tear that would otherwise not occur on stationary roofs. Their durability and reduced weight make them a perfect fit for smaller, mobile solar projects that do not need large amounts of energy, such as on boats or RVs.

Why Should I Consider Using Flexible Solar Panels?

solar panel and mobile phone

Amazon.com sells many types of flexible solar panels at different prices. Ask yourself if you could benefit from a flexible solar panel based on your energy needs.

When shopping for a flexible solar panel that will best serve your purposes, look for value for your money. The performance of the solar panel varies according to the quality of the solar cells used, the material used in laminating them and the rigor of the assembly process.

The following are four things you must consider before purchasing a flexible solar panel:

  • Shorter lifespans
  • Quality and efficiency
  • Product knowledge
  • Durability


Shorter Lifespans

Flexible panels have a shorter lifespan than traditional panels. If you need a solar panel that will last a very long time, then the flexible panel may not be your best option. In fact, many of the low-quality flexible solar panels currently on the market will only 1-3 years. Aside from that, the retailer may offer no warranty.

One decisive factor in determining the lifespan of a flexible solar panel is to check its coating material, which is mostly the preferred ETFE (fluorine-based polymer) or less-preferred PET (polyester-based plastic.) PET-laminated panels are expected to last for 5 years, while ETFE can last up to a decade.


Quality and Efficiency

Sunpower’s Maxeon multi-layered cell technology is the best quality solar cell available in the market. It has an efficiency of up to 24.3%, which means the product can provide 35% more power than conventional cells.

Conventional cells have exposed metal components that can be vulnerable to corrosion. This might be an issue to consider, especially if your home is near salt water. If you are close to a marine environment, then it is best to consider alternative energy sources. If you want energy efficiency, then flexible solar panels are not the best option.


Product Knowledge

If you are looking for a flexible solar panel that is an inexpensive method for charging your tablet or phone, go for the PET-laminated panels. While the efficiency is 24%, remember you will get less value for more energy-efficient cells.

If you are looking for a flexible solar panel for camping, your RV, your boat, your refrigerator, battery, engine starter or the like, then choose ETSE-laminated panels. They are waterproof, fire-resistant, reliable and durable.


Durability

To ensure that your flexible solar panel has a long lifespan, you need to purchase quality panels from the start. You need to know the materials used in producing the panel. Do a little research first.

Do not buy a solar panel that has any physical damage, such as cracks or scratches, as these will reduce the lifespan and durability of the panel.

Additionally, you'll get more use and life out of your solar panel if you regularly clean it for optimal performance. Do not let dust or dirt accumulate, because these components can cause damage to your panel.

And, if you are traveling and do not need to use your flexible solar panel, then it is best to use a protective cover to extend its lifespan.

Conclusion

solar panels

Solar panels are made of silicon wafers sliced down to just a few micrometers wide. This makes them ultra-thin and flexible. Flexible solar panels are being improved in drastically in the near future by MIT researchers, who have discovered the applications of organic solar cells for graphene electrodes. These organic solar cell electrodes will lead to panels that are even thinner, more stable and flexible than ever before.

Current flexible solar panels fall under the category of “thin-film panels,” and are 300 times smaller than standard silicon solar panels, making them more flexible, lightweight and durable. Flexible solar panels fit many types of solar projects, such as supplying power to RVs or boats, or even charging batteries or your phone.

A flexible solar panel, which is less costly to install than traditional panels, will not compromise the structural integrity of your home. They are lightweight and versatile, making them highly portable and useful during trips. Manufacturing flexible panels is affordable compared to conventional solar panels, and the material used is recyclable after the lifespan of the panel is complete.

Before buying a solar panel, you need to consider the durability, cells used, quality and efficiency, lamination used and how to improve durability.