Environmental Technician: Job Duties & Career Requirements

If you're looking to start a career as an environmental technician, you'll need at least two years of specialized training or an associate's degree in a field like applied science. Experience as a science or lab technician will help prepare you to work in the field of environmental science. Read on to learn more about how to become an environmental technician.

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Career Definition for an Environmental Technician

Environmental technicians work with environmental engineers and scientists to identify, evaluate, prevent and control contamination of the environment. Environmental technicians often work both in lab environments and in the field. Some common duties of environmental technicians include inspecting and maintaining equipment, controlling and managing hazardous waste, collecting samples, managing waste operations, assisting with regulatory compliance and other duties as needed.

Education Associate's degree
Job Skills Analytical, interpersonal communication, observational, problem solving
Median Salary (2015)* $43,030 (all environmental science and protection technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 9% (all environmental science and protection technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

To become an environmental technician, you'll need at least two years of specialized training or a 2-year associate's degree in a field like applied science. People with a 4-year bachelor's degree in a field like chemistry or biology may also be qualified for a position as an environmental technician, depending on the place of employment and the specific role. Common courses that will help prepare you for a career in environmental science include organic and biochemistry, biology, sustainable development, climate change and environmental geochemistry.

Skills Required

Environmental technicians should be comfortable working both in the lab and in the field. Precision, attention to detail and an ability to communicate with team members will help you to succeed as an environmental technician.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook is good for environmental technicians, who fall into the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) category for environmental science and protection technicians. The BLS projects employment in this field will grow 9% from 2014-2024, which is faster than the average for all U.S. occupations. In May 2015, the median annual salary for environmental technicians was $43,030.

Alternate Career Options

Individuals seeking careers in environmental protection are likely to consider environmental engineering professions.

Environmental Engineering Technician

Usually having an associate's degree in the field, these techs follow environmental engineers' plans for the operation and modification of environmental clean-up equipment. In 2015, the BLS reported their annual median salary as $48,650 and predicted faster than average job growth of 10% for the 2014-2024 decade.

Environmental Engineer

Normally earning a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering or a related engineering field, these professionals seek employment finding solutions to various environmental problems. Faster than average employment growth of 12% is expected by the BLS from 2014-2024, and an annual median wage of $84,560 was revealed for these engineers in 2015.

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