SOC Code: 17-2081

Pay Band: 5 and 6 (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description:

Design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental health hazards utilizing various engineering disciplines. Work may include waste treatment, site remediation, or pollution control technology.

Environmental Engineer positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Architecture and Engineering Career Group:

Engineer I

Engineer II

While Environmental Engineers within the Commonwealth are all located within the Architecture and Engineering Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other managerial opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

General Administration

Program Administration

Environmental Services

Engineering Technology

Life and Physical Science

Note:The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Environmental Engineers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  2. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  3. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  4. Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  5. Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  6. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  7. Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  8. Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  9. Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  10. Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.


Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Environmental Engineers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  2. Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  3. Laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  4. Practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  5. Business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  6. Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  7. Principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  8. Chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  9. Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  10. Design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Environmental Engineers commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  2. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  3. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  4. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  5. Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  6. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  7. Speak clearly so others can understand you.
  8. Identify and understand the speech of another person.
  9. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  10. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Environmental Engineers.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed.  


  1. Prepare, review, and update environmental investigation and recommendation reports.
  2. Collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians, engineers, and other specialists, and experts in law and business to address environmental problems.
  3. Obtain, update, and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures.
  4. Provide technical-level support for environmental remediation and litigation projects, including remediation system design and determination of regulatory applicability.
  5. Monitor progress of environmental improvement programs.
  6. Inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs in order to evaluate operational effectiveness and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
  7. Provide administrative support for projects by collecting data, providing project documentation, training staff, and performing other general administrative duties.
  8. Develop proposed project objectives and targets, and report to management on progress in attaining them.
  9. Advise corporations and government agencies of procedures to follow in cleaning up contaminated sites in order to protect people and the environment.
  10. Advise industries and government agencies about environmental policies and standards.


Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The environmental engineer occupation has the following characteristics:

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority.


Generally licensure is required for engineers or a licensed professional engineer must supervise unlicensed environmental engineer positions in state government.

Licensing information can be found on the Department of Professional & Occupational Regulations' web site at

All 50 States and the District of Columbia require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Engineers who are licensed are called Professional Engineers (PE). Recent graduates can start the licensing process by taking the examination in two stages. The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination can be taken upon graduation. Engineers who pass this examination commonly are called Engineers in Training (EIT) or Engineer Interns (EI). After acquiring suitable work experience, EITs can take the second examination, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Several States have imposed mandatory continuing education requirements for licensure.

Licensure and certification enhances professional development and career progression.


The Department of Labor provides the following information:

Using the principles of biology and chemistry, environmental engineers develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in water and air pollution control, recycling, waste disposal, and public health issues.

Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of the hazard, offer analysis on treatment and containment, and develop regulations to prevent mishaps. They design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems. They conduct research on proposed environmental projects, analyze scientific data, and perform quality control checks.

Environmental engineers are concerned with local and worldwide environmental issues. They study and attempt to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion. They also are involved in the protection of wildlife.

Many environmental engineers work as consultants, helping their clients to comply with regulations and to clean up hazardous sites.

Most environmental engineering jobs require degrees in one of the following subjects: environmental engineering, civil engineering, technical safety, chemical engineering, geology or environmental science. A master's degree is often preferred.

A bachelor's in engineering is needed for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College grads with a degree in a science or mathematics may get some jobs.

Getting into engineering school requires a strong report card in math and science, and courses in English, social studies, and computers.

In a typical college, the first 2 years are for studying math, science, engineering basics, the arts, and social sciences. In the last 2 years, most courses are in engineering, mostly in a single branch.

Engineers should be creative, curious, analytical, and detail-oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team. People skills are important. This is because engineers often work with people in a wide range of fields.

The State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) lists many Virginia educational institutions offering programs in engineering on their web site:

 SCHEV lists Old Dominion University and Virginia Tech as two Virginia schools having an environmental engineering specialty.

Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  • Technical and Functional Expertise
  • Understanding the Business     
  • Achieving Results
  • Serving the Customer
  • Teamwork
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 


Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example:



Practitioner Role




Manager Role


Engineer I



Engineer Manager I


Engineer II



Engineer Manager II



Engineer Manager III



Engineer Manager IV

Sample Career Path

Engineer I

The Engineer I role provides career tracks for environmental engineers whose expertise levels range from trainee to advanced level. Responsibilities include applying engineering principles and practices to projects of varying complexity in environmental areas.

Engineer II

The Engineer II role provides career tracks for environmental engineers that serve as an expert or first line supervisor. Duties include evaluating the plans and specifications for environmental projects prepared by other engineers; or for applying related engineering principles and practices to complex, extensive and diversified engineering projects in specialty areas.

Engineering Manager I

The Engineering Manager I role provides career tracks for managers who manage various administrative, budgetary, planning, scheduling and technical activities related to multiple complex engineering projects or programs and the staff performing related functions. These functions draw upon knowledge of specialty engineering; or other construction projects, transportation, water and wastewater projects or programs and health and safety related operations.

Engineering Manager II

The Engineering Manager II role provides career tracks for managers who manage, coordinate, and direct the activities of one or more specialized environmental engineering or health and safety related program operations in their assigned geographic or divisional area. This includes budgetary, planning, scheduling, public relations, human resource functions, and technical activities related to a broad range of engineering, administrative and other projects or programs.       

Engineering Manager III

The Engineering Manager III role provides career tracks for managers who direct the environmental engineering, administrative and other operations and programs of a defined geographic district with multiple locations.

Engineering Manager IV

The Engineering Manager IV role provides career tracks or executive managers who serve as the agency's chief engineer responsible for planning and directing large-scale, multi-divisional preliminary engineering with statewide scope.


O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Department of Professional & Occupation Regulation

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network

American Academy of Environmental Engineers

Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

American Society for Engineering Education

National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveying

National Society of Professional Engineers


Back to Top | Back to Career Guides List