Environmental laboratory technicians--also called environmental engineering, environmental science or environmental protection technicians--collect and analyze samples of air, water and soil. These workers do not need to be certified in the state of Pennsylvania unless they test or analyze radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas. A PA certification could include radon testing, radon mitigation, and radon laboratory analysis. Additionally, environmental lab techs can earn national certification from the National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP). Prerequisites to a PA program include a bachelor's degree in a related field and one year or more of experience analyzing radon samples.
Pennsylvania Radon Certification
Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has three categories of radon certifications: radon testing, radon mitigation and radon laboratory analysis. Environmental laboratory technicians who want to become certified to analyze radon samples must apply to the DEP, pay the $400 fee for an initial 2-year certification and must meet certain requirements. Individuals also have the option of getting into an environmental bio-technician certificate program, which provides hands-on training and focuses on green technologies and sustainability. Some common course topics might include:
- Environmental sampling lab
- Gen chem lab
- Intro to biotechnology
- Biotechnology techniques
- Introduction to ecology
Popular Career Options
Students who get their PA certification in environmental lab technology can work in many different sectors. Some job titles might include environmental health specialist, environmental technician, laboratory specialist and environmental specialist.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
As of May 2015, environmental scientists and specialists (including health) made a mean annual wage of $73,930, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From 2014-2024, the job outlook for these specialists is expected to grow 11%. This is faster than average for all other occupations.
Continuing education is required to renew a laboratory radon analysis certification in Pennsylvania. Environmental lab techs can either pass a DEP-approved exam or complete 16 hours of approved education from the National Radon Proficiency Program or National Radon Safety Board. A $100 renewal fee is also required.
NREP awards the Registered Environmental Laboratory Technologist (RELT) certification (www.nrep.org). To earn this certification, applicants must pay a fee and successfully complete a timed exam that focuses on standard laboratory procedures, equipment and precautions. The exam also covers chemical systems and common science terminologies used by environmental lab technologists. Test takers are allowed to use their books during the examination period.
In addition to passing the exam, applicants must meet a series of prerequisites, including holding an associate's degree in a biological or chemical science subject and having work experience at a research laboratory for two years in a row. Applicants can forgo the associate's degree requirement if they have held four years of professional laboratory experience. However, the BLS reports that laboratory technology employers often look for candidates who hold postsecondary education (www.bls.gov).
A Pennsylvania certification in environmental lab technology trains students in topics such as biotechnology, environmental sampling, and ecology. Graduates are certified to work with radon by the state of Pennsylvania.