Environmental field technicians, or environmental science and protection technicians, conduct tests on the environmental impact of a potential source of pollutants. They typically hold an associate's degree, although some positions require a bachelor's degree. They work to prevent environmental degradation, public health threats, and violations of the laws that protect both the environment and the public.
Environmental field technicians test for pollutants in water, soil and air, as well as monitoring municipal wastewater treatment. Aspiring technicians typically complete an associate degree program prior to entering the workforce, which often includes a co-op or internship. Some states require that environmental field technicians be licensed.
|Required Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Licensure required in some states|
|Projected Job Growth||9% between 2014 and 2024*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$43,030*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Requirements of an Environmental Field Technician
The minimum requirement for entry-level environmental field technician positions is a high school diploma and on-the-job training; however, most employers require some formal education. Environmental field technicians can earn a certificate or associate degree. Aspiring professionals are trained through courses such as:
- Natural resource conservation
- Management of wetlands
- Horticulture and biology courses
- Regulations in environmental science
- Environmental safety and health
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Job Duties of an Environmental Field Technician
Different agencies, companies and firms use environmental field technicians to gather data that is used for monitoring pollution. Environmental field technicians are responsible for investigating pollution sources, performing laboratory tests, taking samples of water and soil, preparing reports and communicating findings with clients. They use equipment such as air sampling monitors, microscopes, sound level meters, water pumps and lead sampling kits, to analyze and test specific areas for pollution sources.
Environmental field agents prepare reports of recorded data and develop new testing procedures. With their findings, field technicians analyze, prepare and present reports to other staff members and clients to develop programs designed to monitor and assess environmental hazards and pollution.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for environmental science and protection technicians, including environmental field technicians, were projected to increase 9% from 2014-2024, which is faster than average. Expanding populations and increased stress on the environment will both contribute to this above-average employment growth.
The BLS listed a median annual salary for environmental science and protection technicians in May 2015 of $43,030. The top paying industries for environmental technicians at that time were the electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry and company management.
Due to faster than average growth in 2014-2024, job seekers in the next decade should enter a favorable market. The lab or field experience earned through formal postsecondary education will be helpful not only on a resume, but also directly in the duties and thought processes necessary for the job.