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Environmental Engineer
Environmental engineering is the field of engineering concerned with local and worldwide environmental issues. Environmental engineers use the principles of Biology and Chemistry to provide practical solutions to problems related to the environment.

Environmental engineers are concerned with assessing and managing the effects of human and other activity on the natural and built environment. They apply their engineering knowledge and skills to such things as environmental impact assessment, natural resources management and pollution control.

Problems relating to water, air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues are increasinglybecoming high on the agendas of government and businesses around the world. As pressure continues to mount over environmental issues, so the need for expertise in this area will continue to grow.

Environmental engineers provide practical solutions to some of these problems, most significantly in the planning, design, repair and construction of public infrastructure systems such as water and sewage treatment plants, landfills, stormwater and river control works.

Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies, evaluate the significance of the hazard, make recommendatons on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps. They design and operate processes to treat waste to a standard acceptable for discharge and/or recycling, for example, wastewater treatment and waste solidification. They also work with occupational health experts to ensure a hazard-free working environment.

They analyse scientific data, research controversial projects and perform quality control checks. They study and attempt to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions and ozone depletion. They are involved in the protection of wildlife. Environmental engineers research and develop new technologies and techniques to improve the environmental acceptability of engineering projects. They evaluate the environmental impact and the social impact of engineering projects in association with the public, scientists and other engineers.

They prepare reports and studies on the best approach to environmental management in new and existing engineering projects, taking into account environmentally sustainable economic activity and legal, environmental and industrial factors. They communicate relevant issues to other technical staff, managers, regulatory authorities, public interest groups and the public.

Environmental engineers may specialize in particular industry sectors such as the minerals industry, the chemical industry and civil engineering projects. They frequently work closely with other professionals, at times pooling expertise on particular projects. They may work in offices and outdoors when involved in construction projects.

Many environmental engineers work as consultants, helping their clients to comply with regulations and clean up hazardous sites. In South Africa environmental engineers are used as key players in the rehabilitation of mine dumps and open-cast mining sites and abandoned urban or industrial sites, that may pose a threat to the environment. Environmental impact studies are required before any development can take place in environmentally sensitive areas.

Engineering graduates usually begin work under the supervision of experienced engineers and are gradually given more responsibilities as they gain experience. Some engineers with experience and additional education move into administration or management. Many high-level executives in industry began their careers in engineering.

Satisfying Aspects
- helping to keep environments safe
- being involved with conservation of nature where possible
- challenging work which is full of variety

Demanding aspects
- frustrations when recommendations are not followed
- annoyance with the public's lack of awareness and caring
- sometimes having to work in all kinds of weather conditions

Environmental engineers need to be/have:

- willing to deal with hazardous materials
- good communication skills, both in person and in writing
- good judgement
- interest in conservation environmental issues
- interest in technical and engineering activities
- willing to adhere to safety requirements
- able to identify, analyze and solve problems
- interested in computing and technical design
- practical and creative
- able to accept responsibility
- physically fit

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Information Technology, Geography, Life Sciences and Engineering and Graphic Design

Note: The Engineering Faculties of some universities offer a support programme to help students to become self-sufficient and capable of completing the very demanding engineering course. The programme is aimed at students from communities which lack proper education facilities. Only students with good grades be considered.

Degree: Environmental Science or Health courses are offered at all universities. Environmental engineers are part of the larger Civil Engineers occupational group

Diploma: Environmental courses are offered at all universities of technology.

Environmental engineers are part of the larger Civil Engineers occupational group

Those who have obtained recognized BSc (Eng) or BEng degrees are eligible for registration as a Candidate Engineer. After gaining at least 3 years of appropriate practical experience engineers may register as Professional Engineers under the auspices of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). Registered professional engineers are entitled to write the prestigious letters PrEng after their name.

Environmental engineers may work in:

- large construction and mining organizations
- large forestry organizations
- waste management companies
- regulatory authorities and some government departments
- provincial administrations and municipalities
- consulting engineering firms and architectural firms
- such organizations as: Mittal Steel, Eskom
- chemical and petrochemical industries, eg. Sasol
- academic and research institutes eg. CSIR
- self-employment, with enough experience,    initiative and capital, can work as consultant

South African Institution of Civil Engineering
Private Bag X200
Halfway House, 1685
Tel: (011) 805-5947/8/5953 Fax: (011) 805-5971

South African Wildlife and Environmental Society
1 Karkloof Road,
P O Box 394
Howick, 3290
Tel (033) 330-3931 Fax (033) 330-4576

Society of South African Geographers
P O Box 128
Wits, 2050
Tel: (011) 339-1951 Fax: (011) 403-7281

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)    
Fax: (011) 622 9295