Environmental Technician: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become an environmental technician. Learn about job duties, education requirements, job outlook and salary potential to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Environmental Technician?

Environmental technicians work with environmental scientists in a variety of ways to track and improve the management of natural resources. This typically involves collecting samples of water, soil and air to analyze and check for pollution levels. They may use microscopes and other laboratory equipment to analyze their samples. Environmental technicians help environmental scientists prepare their findings in charts and reports, as well as explaining the test results to clients and other interested parties. Often, their work is used to help shape environmental policy and standards. Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree at minimum; bachelor's degree for some jobs
Education Field of Study Environmental technology, environmental science
Key Skills Sample collection & testing; pollution monitoring; knowledge of environmental regulations; physical stamina for working outdoors
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%*
Average Salary (2015) $46,540*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Tasks Are Done By an Environmental Technician?

Environmental technicians perform much of the legwork needed to test and improve our environment. As an environmental technician, you'd likely work with environmental scientists in a number of ways, including collecting air and material samples, testing environmental testing equipment or monitoring pollution and environmental regulations. Much of your time may be spent outdoors. Environmental technicians can also be involved in waste management and control. Private companies and government agencies employ technicians.

What Degree Do I Need?

Most employers prefer to hire environmental technicians with some postsecondary education, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS (www.bls.gov). Degree programs in environmental technology, environmental science or a similar natural science can offer a foundation in science and environmental issues. Associate's degree programs in environmental technology are readily available; courses are focused on biology, chemistry and natural resources. Certificate programs are also available and typically are shorter in length than associate's degree programs because they do not include general education credit requirements.

If you are looking for a 4-year college degree, which may be required by certain employers, consider bachelor's degree programs in environmental studies or environmental science. Such programs provide a foundation in biology and other natural sciences, with a focus on solving environmental problems.

What's the Outlook for This Career?

Growing interest in the environment is one of the factors fueling growth in this field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted job growth of 9% during the 2014-2024 decade, which is faster than average for all U.S. occupations.

What is the Earning Potential?

BLS earning statistics for May 2015 showed an average salary of $46,540 for environmental science and protection technicians. Salaries can vary based on experience, education and industry. For example, the BLS found that environmental technicians working in electric power generation, transmission and distribution earned an average of $76,810, almost twice the overall average salary. Very few of these jobs exist, however. The largest employer of environmental technicians is scientific and technical consulting, which paid an average salary of $45,440.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers requiring an associate's degree include chemical technicians and environmental engineering technicians. Chemical technicians test chemical products under the supervision of chemists and chemical engineers. Environmental engineering technicians follow the plans set by environmental engineers, which may include testing equipment and collecting samples. A hydrologist is also a related career, but this field requires a bachelor's degree. These scientists study water and work to improve its quality and availability.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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