How To Become an Environmental Engineer in Australia?

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Students want to know how they can become environmental engineers in Australia.


Are you detail-oriented with a keen interest in the environment and its conservation? If yes, a career as an Environmental Engineer might suit you.


Environmental engineers plan, design and implement methods to limit the adverse impact of industrial operations on the environment.


To become an Environmental Engineer in Australia, you usually need a bachelor's degree in engineering with a major in environmental engineering. Having a postgraduate qualification is also common in this role. Some states and territories may require Registration with Engineers Australia.


If you are interested in an Environmental Engineer role and want to know how to get started, you have landed at the right place. Find out what an environmental engineer is, their skills, what they study, how much they earn, their salary and much more.



1. What Does an Environmental Engineer Do?


Environmental Engineers use biology, chemistry, soil science, and engineering to build innovative solutions to environmental problems.


They implement their understanding and skills to introduce sustainable practices for environment conservation, mitigate environmental disasters, and prepare the community for the ill effects of climate change.


Environmental Engineers specialise in operating facilities related to potable water supply, air pollution prevention, recycling, water quality, and waste disposal to protect public health and the environment.



2. Duties and Tasks of Environmental Engineers


The exact duties of an environmental engineer vary based on their specialisation, but typical responsibilities may include:


  • Organise and analyse scientific data.

  • Research environmental issues, including climate change and acid rain.

  • Assess the social and environmental impacts of engineering projects. 

  • Build new techniques and technologies to enhance the ecological suitability of engineering projects.

  • Evaluate and improve potable water supply, sewage, waste collection, treatment, and clearance systems.  

  • Design and operational procedures that turn waste into energy.

  • Monitor air and water pollution by testing air and water quality and introducing model projections. 

  • Review industrial facilities to ensure they are compliant with ecological regulations.

  • Design and supervise environmental protection projects.

  • Prepare and review reports on the best approach to environmental management in engineering projects.

  • Obtain approvals and permits.

  • Develop ecological health checks and standards.

  • Collaborate with scientists, other engineers, occupational health experts, and the public to ensure a risk-free working environment.

  • Advise the government on the best procedures to reduce contamination.

  • Stay updated with the industry's best practices and innovations.

  • Communicate relevant environmental issues to science professionals, managers, governing authorities, public forums, and the public.

  • May work on animal housing and care. 

  • May appear in court as expert witnesses in court cases concerning pollution or violations of environmental laws.



3. Environmental Engineer Skills


Environmental engineers need a combination of technical skills and soft skills to complete their day-to-day responsibilities:



Technical Skills


  • Strong mathematical abilities 

  • Basic knowledge of physics, chemistry, engineering, and technology

  • Strong technical design skills to plan out suitable evaluation processes and methods during fieldwork

  • Expertise in design principles and eco-friendly building practices.

  • Knowledge of ecological rehabilitation practices, technologies, and methods

  • Working knowledge of MATLAB and Microsoft Excel for statistical analysis

  • Based on their specialisation, they must have technological equipment expertise to work with specialised engineering equipment such as construction devices, software programs, and engineering machines.



Soft Skills


  • Enjoy doing technical and engineering activities, including computing and technical design.

  • Oral and written Communication skills

  • Practical 

  • Inquisitive 

  • Able to accept responsibility

  • Strong analytical reasoning abilities

  • Problem-solving and conflict-management skills

  • Leadership skills

  • Creativity

  • Detail-oriented 

  • Able to delegate tasks

  • Able to motivate team members

  • Willingness to follow safety requirements

  • Judgment and decision making

  • Awareness of ethical issues, health and safety regulations, particularly in an environmental context

  • Monitoring skills to oversee construction sites and ensure safe work environments.



4. Qualifications For Environmental Engineers In Australia


You usually need a formal qualification in environmental engineering to work as an Environmental Engineer in Australia. Here are the steps to qualify for the role:


  1. Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in one or more prerequisite subjects such as English, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. 

  2. Complete an undergraduate degree such as a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering, or an undergraduate degree in engineering majoring in environmental engineering or a related field like a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) majoring in Environmental Engineering.

  3. While studying, enrol in an internship or job placement to gain hands-on work experience and mentorship.

  4. Consider completing further postgraduate study, such as the Master of Engineering.

  5. Consider earning a Master's qualification in environmental engineering to specialise in environmental engineering. It will help you progress in your career and improve your career prospects.

  6. Become a member of relevant industry bodies such as Engineers Australia to stay updated with industry developments and certify your qualifications. Register with the National Engineer Register.



5. Steps To Become an Environmental Engineer In Australia


Here is a list of steps outlining the educational and training process to kickstart a career as an environmental engineer in Australia:



Step 1: Complete A Qualification In Environmental Engineering


You need a formal qualification in environmental engineering through an accredited institution, like a 4 - year Bachelor of Environmental Engineering, to become an environmental engineer in Australia.


Alternatively, complete a related engineering degree with an environmental engineering major, like a 4- year Bachelors's in Civil Engineering (Environmental Engineering).


Starting with an introduction to basic science, engineering principles, and mathematics, the environmental engineering course progress to environmental engineering topics such as water treatment, air quality management, pollution control technologies, and ecological rehabilitation for in-depth learning.



Step 2: Earn A Master's Degree


Though you can become an environmental engineer with a bachelor's degree, most employers prefer candidates with a master's degree for advanced roles.


The standard postgraduate degree course for ecological engineers is a Master of Environmental Engineering, which typically takes two years to complete.



Step 3: Gain Work Experience In Environmental Engineering 


Once you have the necessary qualification, you can consider an internship to obtain valuable work experience that can help improvise your technical environmental engineering skills. 


If you can't find an internship, try a related entry-level role, such as a research associate, an environmental scientist, or a lab assistant, to hone your technical skills and knowledge.



Step 4: Apply for a Professional Membership


After graduating from an environmental engineering course and gaining professional experience, apply for a membership with the Engineers of Australia. It will help you qualify for advanced positions and stay up-to-date with industry developments.


However, to qualify to become a member of Engineers of Australia, you must submit proof of your education and showcase a minimum of three years of postgraduate-level work experience in the environmental engineering field.


Industry bodies:




6. Environmental Engineer Courses In Australia


  • Diploma of Environmental Monitoring and Technology at Central Regional TAFE

  • Diploma of Environmental Monitoring and Technology - Central Regional TAFE

  • Certificate IV in Environmental Monitoring and Technology - Central Regional TAFE

  • Undergraduate Sustainable Engineering Practice (offered by Open Universities) - Griffith University

  • Undergraduate Bachelor's in Environmental Engineering: The University of Western Australia

  • Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental Engineering) (Honours) – RMIT University

  • Bachelor of Engineering (Sustainable Systems Engineering) (Honours) – RMIT University

  • Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Honours) - The University of New Castle

  • Master of Environmental Engineering - The University of Melbourne




7. Working Conditions For An Environmental Engineer


Environmental Engineers usually work in offices, laboratories, or outdoors, such as industrial and construction sites, mines, waste treatment facilities, and in polluted environments collaborating with other scientists, engineering professionals, executives, and colleagues.


Some even work in government facilities to inspect and ensure they comply with environmental laws. When performing "in the field," they may be exposed to extreme weather conditions, harmful chemicals, and other pollutants.


Due to this, they have to mandatory wear protective clothing, including face masks, hand gloves, and safety glasses.


Based on the specific needs of each site they work on, Environmental engineers use a range of scientific and laboratory equipment to collect air, water, and soil samples and test them for the presence of pollutants.


They may also use innovative technologies like ultrasound to disintegrate contaminants into less harmful compounds. Those working in offices use computers to examine data and generate reports.



8. Areas Of Specialisations For Environmental Engineers


Environmental engineering offers a wide range of scope for specialisation within the field and opens the door to several career opportunities.


Common specialisations within environmental engineering include:


  • Air Pollution Control

  • Environmental Sustainability

  • Geophysical Engineering

  • Geotechnical Engineering

  • Hazardous Waste Management

  • Industrial Hygiene Engineering

  • Radiation Protection Engineering

  • Solid Waste Management

  • Water Supply Engineering

  • Water Waste Engineering

  • Chemical Engineering

  • Civil Engineering



9. Environmental Engineering Jobs In Australia


A qualification in environmental engineering prepares you to address global environmental issues such as climate change, waste disposal and recycling, sustainability, public health, pollution, and contamination.


This knowledge and skills are highly sought after by:


  • Extensive Engineering, Construction, and Mining corporations 

  • Manufacturing companies

  • Land developers 

  • Government departments and regulatory bodies

  • Non-government environmental and humanitarian sectors

  • Local and global ecological consultancy firms

  • Contaminated land assessment industries

  • Water corporations

  • Large Forestry organisations

  • Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning



Potential job roles in Environmental engineering include:


  • Environmental Engineer

  • Environment Officer

  • Environment Planner

  • Environmental Consultant

  • Water Specialist

  • Landfill Specialist



10. Job Outlook Of Environmental Engineers In Australia


With the growing effect of climate change, Environmental Engineers have become more critical than ever to creating innovative environmental solutions for a sustainable future.  


Considering their importance, an increasing number of businesses, companies, and governments now require Environment Engineers to lessen environmental impacts on the built and natural environment and promote a greener environment for the future.


With an average annual salary of AU$74,573 and ranked under "very high skill level rating", the profession of Environment Engineers expects robust future growth over the next five years.



Working Arrangements


Around 82% of employed Environmental Engineers work full-time for an average of 43 hours per week.



Main Industries of Employment


  • Professional, Scientific, And Technical Services: 56.6%

  • Electricity, Gas, Water, And Waste Services: 14.8%

  • Public Administration And Safety: 8.1%

  • Mining: 4.6%

  • Other Industries: 12.6%



Percentage Of Employment Across Australia


Around 72% of workers live in capital cities, with Victoria having a large share of employment concerning its population size.


  • New South Wales: 30.1%

  • Victoria: 29.8%

  • Queensland: 21.0%

  • South Australia: 4.7%

  • Western Australia: 11.7%

  • Tasmania: 1.5%

  • Northern Territory: 0.4%

  • Australian Capital Territory: 0.9%



Worker's Age and Gender Profile


The average age of Environmental Engineers is 36 years, and most are between 25 to 34 years. Females constitute 32% of the workforce which is 16 percentage points below the average of all jobs, i.e., 48%.



11. How Much Money Do Environmental Engineers Make In Australia?


The salary of an environmental engineer is dependent on their education level, professional work experience, geographic location, and specialisation.


According to Pay Scale, Australia's average environmental engineering salary is AU$ 74,573 annually.



Based on Experience:


  • Entry-level (<1 year experience): AU$61,644 per year 

  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$71,604 per year 

  • Mid-career (5-9 years of experience): AU$85,379 per year 

  • Experienced (10-19 years of experience): AU$111,839 per year 

  • Late career (20 years and above): AU$ 152,605 per year. 



Highest-Paying Cities for Environmental Engineers:


  • Sydney: $101,284 per year

  • Brisbane: $89,325 per year

  • Melbourne: $83,574 per year

  • Central Coast: $81,407 per year

  • Perth: $71,572 per year

  • Wollongong: $67,900 per year

  • Newcastle: $58,061 per year

  • Burwood: $56,931 per year

  • Riverina: $56,033 per year



12. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Is Environmental Engineering in Demand in Australia?


Yes. The demand for competent environmental engineers is increasing and will continue to grow as we become more conscious of the planet's needs and our dependency on the environment for survival.


When looking at the contribution to environmental conservation, more and more businesses now employ environmental engineers to conceive and develop clean and sustainable engineering solutions to limit their environmental impact to a minimum.


Those businesses hiring environmental engineers in Australia include mining and construction companies, government agencies, and development organisations.


Is Environmental Engineering a Good Career Choice?


Environment Engineering is a fast-progressing field that addresses global environmental issues such as sustainability, climate change, recycling, public health, air and water, and pollution and contamination.


The considerable need to create sustainable engineering solutions is behind the rapid and robust growth of the industry. Working in this rewarding profession, you get the opportunity to devise solutions that will enhance the world we live in.


Regarding work life, Environment Engineers working indoors usually have flexible hours that help them attain a healthy work-life balance. On the other hand, doing field work while enjoying good weather makes the job enjoyable.

Also, with experience, and further training, you may advance to local or corporate management roles, work with consulting firms, or work as self-employed for local or overseas clients.



What is The Highest-Paid Engineer in Australia?


According to Indeed, the average salaries of similar Environment Engineer roles are as follows:


  • Environmental Scientist: Average $83,480 per year

  • Scientist: Average $88,320 per year

  • Environmental Specialist: Average $92,356 per year

  • Environmental Consultant: Average $103,512 per year

  • Environmental Manager: Average $105,290 per year

  • Water Resources Engineer: Average $110,637 per year



So, Water Resources Engineer earns the highest salary of all other Environment Engineer roles.



What can I Do To Become an Environmental Engineer?


To become an Environmental engineer in Australia, you must hold a 4-year bachelor's degree in environmental engineering or a related field.


Though optional, completing postgraduate studies will help you specialise in your engineering knowledge and improve your employability for various roles.


Gaining relevant work experience via an internship or an entry-level related job is beneficial before working independently. Based on your chosen work location, you may also require membership with Engineers Australia to start working in this role.



How Long Does it Take to Become an Environmental Engineer?


The entry-level qualification to enter an Environmental Engineer role is an undergraduate degree in Environmental Engineering or an undergraduate degree in Engineering majoring in Environmental Engineering.


Completing these degree courses through an accredited institution usually takes four years of full-time study.



How Can Overseas-Qualified Environmental Engineers Pursue a Career in Australia?


  • ANZSCO ID: 233915, Occupation: Environmental Engineer

  • Skills Assessment Authority: Engineers Australia



Environmental Engineer Skill Assessment Requirement:


Overseas Environmental Engineers must have a positive Skills Assessment to apply for visas to work in Australia. For a positive skills assessment, you must meet the following criteria specified by Engineers Australia.



Pathway A – Evaluation Based on Your Qualification


  • If you have studied in Australia and hold a qualification accredited by Engineers Australia

  • If you have a degree from a nation that is a full signatory to the Washington Accord

  • If you have a degree from a county that is a full signatory to the Sydney Accord

  • If you have a degree from a county that is a full signatory to the Dublin Accord 

  • You have other recognised qualifications



Pathway B – If you don't have an accredited qualification or don't wish to get evaluated based on your degree title or course content.



Documents Required:


Whichever qualification pathways you choose, you must provide the following:


  • CV/Resume summarising your engineering education and work experience

  • Academic degree certificate

  • A complete and authorised academic transcript 

  • Authorised English translations of the above documents, if applicable



For Pathway B, you must provide the following:


  • CV/Resume summarising your engineering education and work experience

  • A certificate or reference letter from your employer on official company letterhead

  • A report consisting of evidence of continuing professional development, three career episodes detailing a specific aspect of your engineering activity, followed by a summary statement


International Environmental Engineers who obtain a positive skill assessment can apply for a suitable visa from the below list to work in Australia.


  • 189

  • 190

  • 485

  • 491 (STATE)

  • 491 (FAMILY)

  • 186 (DIRECT)

  • 407 (TRAINING)





13. Conclusion


Environmental engineering is a vast field that can lead you to a highly satisfying and versatile career. You will have plenty of opportunities to gain employment, specialise, and develop your career.


If you have a knack for mathematics and a passion for the environment, you could earn handsomely if environmental engineering is something you choose to pursue!


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