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Career and Education Opportunities for Environmental Planners in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for environmental planners. Currently, 1,690 people work as environmental planners in Illinois. This is expected to grow by 4% to about 1,750 people by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for environmental planners are expected to grow by about 30.6%. In general, environmental planners design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental health hazards utilizing various engineering disciplines.

Environmental planners earn about $38 hourly or $80,140 yearly on average in Illinois and about $35 per hour or $74,020 per year on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Green Engineering, people working as environmental planners in Illinois earn more. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Green Engineering nationally. Environmental planners work in a variety of jobs, including: pollution control engineer, solid waste engineer, and reservoir engineer.

There are 180 schools of higher education in the Chicago area, including two within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree to start your career as an environmental planner. Environmental planners usually hold a Bachelor's degree, so you can expect to spend about four years training to become an environmental planner if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Environmental Planner

Environmental Planner video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, environmental planners design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental health hazards utilizing various engineering disciplines. They also work may include waste treatment, site remediation, or pollution control technology.

Environmental planners collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians and other specialists, and experts in law and business to address environmental problems. They also inform company employees and other interested parties of environmental issues. Equally important, environmental planners have to design proposed project objectives and targets, and report to management on progress in attaining them. They are often called upon to furnish administrative support for projects by collecting data, providing project documentation and performing other general administrative duties. They are expected to help in budget implementation and administration. Finally, environmental planners inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs to review operational effectiveness and insure adherence to environmental regulations.

Every day, environmental planners are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they read and understand documents and reports.

It is important for environmental planners to request bids from suppliers or consultants. They are often called upon to advise industries and government agencies about environmental policies and standards. They also obtain and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures. They are sometimes expected to assess the existing or potential environmental impact of land use projects on air and land. Somewhat less frequently, environmental planners are also expected to serve as liaison with federal and local agencies and officials on issues pertaining to solid and hazardous waste program requirements.

They also have to be able to layout and supervise the development of systems processes or equipment for control or remediation of water or soil quality and monitor progress of environmental improvement programs. And finally, they sometimes have to furnish technical-level support for environmental remediation and litigation projects, including remediation system layout and determination of regulatory applicability.

Like many other jobs, environmental planners must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Energy Systems Engineer. Design, develop, and evaluate energy-related projects and programs to reduce energy costs or improve energy efficiency during the designing, building, or remodeling stages of construction. May specialize in electrical systems; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems; green buildings; lighting; air quality; or energy procurement.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Environmental Planner Training

Illinois Institute of Technology - Chicago, IL

Illinois Institute of Technology, 3300 S Federal St, Chicago, IL 60616. Illinois Institute of Technology is a medium sized school located in Chicago, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 7,404 students and an admission rate of 57%. Illinois Institute of Technology has a master's degree and a doctor's degree program in Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering which graduated twelve and one students respectively in 2008.

Northwestern University - Evanston, IL

Northwestern University, 633 Clark St, Evanston, IL 60208. Northwestern University is a large university located in Evanston, Illinois. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 20,128 students and an admission rate of 27%. Northwestern University has a bachelor's degree program in Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Energy Manager: Since its inception in 1981, the Certified Energy Manager (CEM®) credential has become widely accepted and used as a measure of professional accomplishment within the energy management field.

For more information, see the Association of Energy Engineers website.

Certified Energy Auditor: The Certified Energy Auditor (CEA) certification identifies professionals as having the required knowledge and experience needed to succeed in the growing field of energy auditing.

For more information, see the Association of Energy Engineers website.

Certified Water Technologist: The Certified Water Technologist (CWT) program represents the highest professional credential in the industrial and commercial water treatment field.

For more information, see the Association of Water Technologies website.

Environmental Professional Intern: The EPI credential is an opportunity for students who anticipate entering the environmental field, or for graduates who have entered the field within the last five years, to demonstrate personal knowledge of general environmental science.

For more information, see the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice website.

Ventilation System Mold Remediator: Ventilation System Mold Remediator (VSMR) Certification ensures an understanding of basic microbiological contamination, project assessment, and how to apply NADCA and other industry standards.

For more information, see the National Air Ducts Cleaning Association website.

Certified Ground Water Professional: The Ground Water Professional certification program began for AGWSE members in 1986.

For more information, see the National Ground Water Association website.

Geotechnical Engineering Technology Certification: This certification program was designed for engineering technicians engaged in soil investigation and determination of engineering properties prior to and concurrent with initial construction activities.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Associate Environmental Professional: Associate Environmental Professional is the entry level program of professional environmental certification.

For more information, see the National Registry of Environmental Professionals website.

Certified Mold Professional: The Certified Mold Professional (CMP) Program is a course of study which includes a series of three mold courses.

For more information, see the Restoration Industry Association website.

Certified Transfer Station Technical Associate: This certification was developed to address the increased interest in transfer stations and provide transfer station managers and others the opportunity to learn more about transfer station design and operation.

For more information, see the Solid Waste Association of North America website.

Certified Composting Technical Associate: Those earning this prestigious designation have specifically demonstrated their abilities in how to effectively plan, design, and operate composting sites.

For more information, see the Solid Waste Association of North America website.

Certified Collection Systems Technical Associate: By earning this certification, you will demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in designing and implementing efficient and effective collection systems.

For more information, see the Solid Waste Association of North America website.

Certified Municipal Solid Waste Management Technical Associate: By earning this certification, you will demonstrate knowledge and proficiency that only the top in a field can show.

For more information, see the Solid Waste Association of North America website.

Certified Construction & Demolition Materials Technical Associate: Professionals who have earned their C&D Certification have shown proficiency in all aspects of the disposal and reuse of C&D materials.

For more information, see the Solid Waste Association of North America website.

Municipal Solid Waste Management Systems - Technical Associate: By earning this certification, you will demonstrate knowledge and proficiency that only the top in a field can show.

For more information, see the Solid Waste Association of North America website.

Bioreactor Landfill - Technical Associate: By earning this certification, you will demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in this new technology.

For more information, see the Solid Waste Association of North America website.

LICENSES

ENGINEER, PROFESSIONAL

Licensing agency: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Address: 320 West Washington, Springfield, IL 62786

Phone: (217) 782-8556
Website: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER

Licensing agency: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Address: 320 West Washington, Springfield, IL 62786

Phone: (217) 782-8556
Website: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK (UST) REMOVAL, INSTALLATION, LINER, AND TESTING

Licensing agency: Illinois State Fire Marshall
Address: 1035 Stevenson Drive, Springfield, IL 62703

Phone: (217) 785-1010
Website: Illinois State Fire Marshall

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.