Environmental technology is an engineering field that shows how math, computer technology and the sciences can be used to preserve the environment. Those interested in formal education in this area can pursue related associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. All programs involve theory and coursework, while field work usually starts at the bachelor's degree level. Some bachelor's and master's programs also offer specializations within the curricula; a few associate's programs do as well. Specializations include agriculture, chemistry, sustainability, and management.
A high school diploma or equivalent is sufficient before applying to the undergraduate level; applying to the master's degree programs requires a bachelor's degree in a related field.
Associate's in Environmental Technology
Associate's students learn how to manage waste, clean up pollution and monitor construction sites through a two-year program. Courses examine the following topics:
- Cell biology
- Environmental laws
- Health and safety
Bachelor's in Environmental Technology
The four-year bachelor's curriculum discusses elements of computer science, emergency management, economics and technical communication. Science-based lecture topics include:
- Environmental chemistry
- Soil science
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Master's in Environmental Technology
Master's degree programs in this field usually take two years to complete. In addition to research, risk assessment, geographic information systems and environmental auditing, subjects covered in a master's environmental technology program are:
- Air pollution
- Environmental regulations
- Hazardous chemicals
Graduates are qualified for a number of positions in various industries, including environmental consulting, manufacturing, food service, academia and research, resource management and government. Some individuals work as environmental technicians, health inspectors, permit writers or data collector and report writers for environmental engineers. Popular job titles specifically for bachelor's degree holders include:
- Environmental biologist
- Environmental engineer
- Fire-prevention specialist
- Health and safety officer
- Research technician
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for environmental engineering technicians is predicted to grow at a rate of 10% between 2014 and 2024, with a mean annual wage of $51,170 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) runs a voluntary certification program for associate's graduates (www.neha.org). Individuals are required to earn at least 12 hours of continuing education credits every 2 years for credential reinstatement.
Programs in environmental technology focus on the use of the sciences in safeguarding the environment. Degrees in this field are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels, with specializations available at some institutions.