|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Environmental engineering technology or engineering technology|
|Key Skills||Critical-thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and reasoning skills; ability to use scientific, analytical, compliance and computer aided design (CAD) software; ability to use water samplers and analyzers, reactors, air collectors, and other tools used in the industry|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$48,650|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online
Environmental engineering technicians help environmental scientists and engineers develop practices to ensure that facilities, infrastructures, and actions minimize impact on the environment. For example, these professionals might assist with studies on wastewater, air pollution, or environmental remediation.
Environmental engineering technicians tend to work full-time in laboratory environments, though sometimes they participate in out-of-doors environmental cleanup efforts. During these cleanups, they might be exposed to hazardous materials. These professionals should have critical-thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills; the ability to use scientific, analytical, compliance, and computer aided design software. Environmental engineering technicians earned a median annual pay of $48,650 per year in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Get Associate's Degree
Employers in this field prefer applicants with an associate's degrees, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also found. These programs generally include courses in trigonometry and statistics as well as geology, ecology, environmental biology, and water quality. Some programs offer CAD and geographic information systems courses that help students learn to map and survey landscapes, locations, and buildings. Other courses may review topics in environmental regulation and industrial hygiene.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that wastewater treatment is a growing area of importance in this field. Students may take elective coursework in this area to gain a foundation in how it applies to engineering.
Associate's degree programs might help students find internship opportunities. Environmental engineering technician interns may organize and maintain research files used by engineers or technicians or collect soil and groundwater from the field for research. Interns may also receive on-the-job training on writing governmental compliance reports. If an internship is not available, students may want to think about doing volunteer work at state or federal government agencies that provide environmental engineering services. The acquired experience could prove invaluable toward later paid positions.
Depending on the employer, environmental engineering technicians have various responsibilities, such as gathering information on proposed construction sites, writing plans for waste disposal, or assessing toxicity levels in streams. Some technicians may specialize in making sure projects are environmentally compliant or analyzing sample statistics for reoccurring patterns. During the course of their work, technicians may be required to compile data and prepare presentations on environmental assessment reports and other studies.
Consider Bachelor's Degree
Environmental engineering technicians wishing to advance their careers and become environmental engineers may consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in environmental engineering. Applicants who have completed an associate's degree program in environmental engineering technology may receive course credits for their completed work. Environmental engineering students take advanced courses in pollution control design, toxicology, and environmental analysis. Most programs allow students to choose electives in courses ranging from water resources engineering to soil engineering in order to gain expertise in a field.
Students can also join an organization like the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. This can provide access to professional resources as well as opportunities to work with other environmental professionals.
To recap, aspiring environmental engineering technicians should complete an associate's degree and gain experience in a laboratory setting by completing an internship or volunteering in the field.