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Environmental Technician: Education Requirements & Degree Info

Sep 16, 2019

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

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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.

With the rising environmental concerns, the need for environmental technicians is also at high to help address the various problems involving the environment such as climate change and waste management. A diploma or certificate is sufficient to be hired for entry-level positions though an associate's degree is mostly preferred.

Essential Information

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 9% between 2018 and 2028 (all environmental engineering technicians)*
Median Salary (2018) $50,560 (all environmental engineering technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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.

Curriculum

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.

Concentration Areas

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.

Environmental technicians work hand in hand with environmental engineers to provide solutions for various environmental problems. As environmental technicians are assigned in different concentration areas like wastewater program and hazardous materials, one must be flexible and knowledgeable enough to go handle the needed output for each area. Taking up an associate's degree is mostly preferred by employers as education is key in dealing with such difficult areas of concentration.

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