Is environmental engineering hard? (solved)

If you ask if environmental engineering is hard or not, this post is for you.

In this post, we’re going to discover what environmental engineers study and also know if environmental engineers are meant for anyone or not.

Is environmental engineering hard?

Environmental engineering is one of the hardest engineering subjects because it is heavier than math. But not only that, environmental engineering is a broad and voluminous major that covers many fields, including chemistry, physics, and ecology. So it requires having multiple skills to absorb these whole subjects.

Environmental engineering is an interdisciplinary major in many ways, and it includes aspects of chemical engineering, mechanical, civil, and electrical.

So it needs a bigger interest, love, and passion for learning these whole subjects. It is a subject that needs both essential skills:

  1. critical thinking
  2. the strong skill in memorization

Critical thinking is used in learning and understanding the hardest math subjects like calculus and linear algebra.

Strong memory to absorb all subjects in chemistry, biology, and ecology. These subjects have a lot of terminologies to be memorized like:

  • hydrology
  • soil
  • atmospheric level
  • biology

Environmental engineering is like studying civil engineering combined with chemistry and biology in one major. So it is not easy at all, especially for people who hate voluminous programs.

The hardest subjects students study in environmental engineering

environmental engineering is one of the hardest majors in engineering. We will list the hardest and principal subjects that environmental engineers study.


if we talk about math, there is no difference between environmental engineering and other engineering majors. You will be forced to study heavy math subjects like linear algebra and calculus in both majors.

In other words, you will study a lot of calculus, including:

  • calculus 1
  • calculus 2
  • differential equation and partial derivatives, which is calculus 3

Also, linear algebra, including matrices and vectors. And finally, statistics and probability. So environmental engineering math program is heavier and not easy to absorb easily.


the second interesting subject in environmental engineering is physics. In other words, you will study a lot of closet topics to civil engineering by focusing on some interesting physics subjects like:

  • Thermodynamic
  • kinematics
  • energy momentums
  • mechanics of materials

to simplify or clarify more, in environmental engineering, you have two principal courses of physics, physics 1 and physics 2

In physics 1 you will study kinematics, dynamics, and energy-momentum. That is to say. You will study the basics of physics. Most parts of these subjects are though in high school.

In physics 2 you will go deeper in physics study subjects like:

  • thermodynamics with kinetic theory
  • PV diagrams and probability
  • electrostatics
  • electrical circuits with capacitors
  • magnetic fields
  • electromagnetism
  • physical and geometric

So there is a lot of physics in environmental engineering, and you should be aware of that.


you will study 3 principal chemistry models in environmental engineering:

  • chemistry 1
  • chemistry 2
  • organic chemistry

In chemistry 1 you study theses following subjects like

  • measurement and units
  • matter and energy,
  • stoichiometry and chemical equations,
  • thermochemistry, electronic structure of atoms,
  • periodic trends,

In chemistry 2, you will study the same topics mentioned in chemistry one, but at a more advanced level.

The last thing is Organic Chemistry, which studies only elements that include carbon and focuses on their proprieties.

biology and civil engineering topics

and finally, you will study some subjects in biology and civil engineering topics like:


So as you can see, environmental engineering is a broad domain. It covers a lot of subjects. So it is not easy to get above all of these subjects if you don’t enjoy this major.

Enviremtnal engineering salary and market demand

According to bls, The median salary of an environmental engineer is $96,820 per year. As a beginner, you will start from $74,000, which is a good and respectable salary.

But the market demand for environmental engineers is very poor compared to the famous engineering major like mechanical and electricla engineering.

  • 55,300 is only the number of job occupations in the united state, unlike 330,000 in mechanical or electrical engineering. So environmental engineering is less popular by 6 times than mechanical and electricla engineering.
  • Every year only  1900, only a new occupation is offered in environmental engineering, while more than 20,000 in electrical and mechanical engineering.

But in software engineering, these numbers are nothing. In other words, every year, 500,000 new occupations are offered or added to a market job, which is 300 times bigger. So software engineering occupation market is booming.

you can read this related article for further information about software engineering:

10 reasons why software engineers are overpaid

How to know if environmental engineering is for you or not

There are 3 rules that indicate whether environmental engineering is for you or not:

1 – love math or are good at it

The first thing you should be sure about is to love math or at least be good at it. Environmental engineering students study heavy math classes. So you will need to have good knowledge and solid basics in calculus and algebra.

So you need to have solid foundations in high school math calculus to face the next math level in college. If you struggled or didn’t have good grades in high school calculus, you should take a course before preparing for college.

2 – have a combo of interest in these 3 subjects math, chemistry, and physics

The second challenge in environmental engineering is you have to be good at these multiple subjects:

  • math
  • physics
  • chemistry
  • biology

It is not like mechanical or electrical engineering, in which they focus only on physics and math. So to study all these subjects, you need to have resilience and flexibility. But the most interesting thing is the curiosity to learn new things.

3 – you have to be extrovert

The last really interesting thing is to be an extrovert, meaning having to be interested and biased towards communication. In other words, you need to have good communication skills.

Enviremeantl engineering is a collaborative job that is not meant for introverted people who like to stay or work alone. If you are an introvert, this occupation might not be for you.


Environmental engineering is not a bad major, but it will be a great major if you love it and convince by the curriculum that we listed in our article.

But suppose you like to integrate quickly as much as possible into the workforce or find a quick job. In that case, you could look for civil engineering, which is the closest major to environmental engineering. As a result to find a job easily.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.