There are a number of industries environmental technicians might find work in, including waste management, consulting and engineering services. An associate's degree is preferred by employers, though certificate and diploma programs generally prepare graduates for entry-level positions.
Environmental technicians use special instrumentation and technology to monitor and control environmental pollutants. Environmental technology programs are most commonly offered as associate's degrees or certificate programs, and students may be able to specialize in areas such as solid waste or wastewater treatment, among others.
|Required Education||Certificate, diploma or on-the-job training; associate's degree is preferred|
|Projected Job Growth||10 between 2014 and 2024 (all environmental engineering technicians)*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$48,650 (all environmental engineering technicians)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Environmental Technician Education Requirements
Most employers require at least a diploma or certificate for entry-level positions in environmental technology, though on-the-job training may replace some education requirements. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employers prefer to hire individuals with an associate degree, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Environmental Technology.
Degree Program Information
Environmental technology programs prepare graduates for entry-level jobs in the environmental service fields or in manufacturing and industry. Students select associate degree or certificate programs where they learn how to take field samples, maintain wastewater treatment systems or properly dispose of solid or hazardous waste in ways that meet local, state and federal regulations.
Associate degree programs begin with coursework in chemistry, geology and biology. Environmental science classes follow and can include topics in geology, hydrology, soil science and environmental law. It is in these courses that students learn how to take air, soil and water samples, record results and analyze readings.
Many environmental technician programs also require students to complete coursework in global positioning or geographic information systems (GIS). Often, students gain experience surveying and mapping collection sites with GIS technology through field experiences or internships.
Some technical and community colleges offer certificate programs or degree concentrations specializing in either hazardous materials or wastewater treatment. Hazardous materials programs train students how to properly store hazardous waste or respond to waste spills. Certificates available include environmental compliance or soil compliance.
Wastewater treatment programs focus on maintaining and monitoring technologies used to treat water for reuse or disposal by public utilities. Coursework may include water chemistry or additional hydrology courses. In many states, wastewater treatment certificate programs prepare students to pass licensure exams or complete continuing education credits required of water treatment operators.
Understanding the projected job growth is an important factor when considering a career as an environmental technician. Choosing an area of concentration to study while at school should also be considered; specializations in the field include dealing with hazardous materials and wastewater treatment.