Environmental Technician: Job Description, Duties and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an environmental technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and employment information to find out if this is the career for you.

An environmental technician works under an environmental scientist and performs tests and research. Responsibilities vary depending on the industry; for example, certain environmental technicians might track pollution levels in soil, water and air, others could could handle hazardous materials, while some serve as consultants for construction or engineering firms. A high school diploma might be sufficient for entry-level employment, though most employers require candidates to have at least an associate's or bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

Environmental technicians attempt to alleviate the effects industry, wastewater and other man-made phenomena have had on the environment. They locate problems and develop ways to assist in the remediation of those issues. Associate's and bachelor's degrees are common job requirements, although it may be possible to get an entry level job with a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some jobs include responsibilities that require state licensing, which generally requires a combination of education, experience, and testing.

Required Education High school diploma, associate's or bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Licensing requirements vary by duties and state
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $43,030*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Environmental Technicians

Environmental technicians, also referred to as environmental science technicians, work in laboratory or field settings under the supervision of environmental scientists. They measure resources, including water, soil and air, to monitor pollution levels; this tactic also helps them find ways to stop or slow environmental pollution. Government agencies employ many of them. While some environmental technicians control and manage hazardous materials, others work in waste management or regulatory agencies. The private sector offers additional opportunities for them to work as consultants with construction companies, distribution companies, maintenance services or engineering companies.

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Environmental Technician Duties

Specific tasks include designing, modifying, testing and operating equipment to aid in the prevention and resolution of environmental problems. Environmental technicians use measuring tools and computer equipment to accomplish their goals. They analyze samples from the environment by conducting physical and chemical tests to determine the amount and type of pollutants found. Using their results, they figure out ways to remove impurities or destroy harmful creatures. Part of their job involves writing up and organizing reports and summaries to reflect their results.

Employment Outlook for Environmental Technicians

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), management, scientific, and technical consulting services were among the largest employers for environmental science technicians in 2015, along with the architectural and engineering industries. The BLS has estimated that employment of environmental technicians will increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024. This faster-than-average rate is predicted due to companies' anticipated need for professionals to help them comply with government regulations, as well as increased public interest in environmental concerns. Environmental science technicians earned a median annual wage of $43,030 as of May 2015, the BLS indicates.

An environmental technician needs to know how to operate, design, and test industry-related equipment; they should also be proficient with computers and be able to write reports based on their collected data. The industries most commonly employing environmental science technicians in 2015 were the consulting and engineering sectors, according to the BLS. This same source also projects a 9% increase in employment opportunities from 2014-24, which is a faster-than-average growth rate.

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