What Do Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Do?
Environmental science and protection technicians may find employment with state, federal or local government agencies, or with research facilities in the private sector. Technicians divide their work between the field and the laboratory, collecting samples and conducting testing to detect and monitor the presence of pollutants in the environment. They are supervised by specialists such as engineers or environmental scientists. A technician’s duties may also include entering data and submitting reports with the results of tests.There is expected to be consistent annual growth in job openings for this position across the nation, with 1,900 projected job openings per year. There is growing demand for environmental technicians in the private sector, due to the continuing development of new industrial technology and companies’ obligations to comply with environmental regulations and laws.
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Skills and Abilities
To effectively perform your job duties as an environmental technician, you should have the ability to accurately follow procedures for sample collection and testing, and possess a high level of attention to detail and critical thinking skills that enable you to detect when there is a problem. Some background in chemistry and electronics is necessary. You will have to read and understand written communications and documents, including field manuals.
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Duties
Your chief job duties will consist of collecting samples of water, soil, gases, industrial wastewater, asbestos products and other materials, and test them to determine pollutant levels or the source of pollutants. This includes following appropriate procedures to collect samples and prepare them for testing. You may be asked to also develop testing procedures, set up and maintain laboratory equipment, and prepare reports and charts to present and interpret testing results. Some other tasks you may encounter include:
- Discussing your results from testing with customers
- Keeping files and databases with relevant information such as chemical usage data
- Communicating with government agencies and general public regarding public health issues
- Conducting statistical analysis of environmental data
- Inspecting workplaces and public facilities for health and safety hazards
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Tools and Technology
In the field, you will be using a variety of tools to collect your samples. You will use sampling pumps, air monitoring equipment and lead air sampling kits, as well as different types of sound measuring equipment and water samples. In the laboratory, testing equipment can include tools such as electronic microscopes. You will also need to use several computer programs to enter, analyze and organize your data. Specialist analytic and scientific software will aid you in ordering and interpreting test results, and database software will give you access to previous results and enable you to enter your current ones. Technicians should also expect to use map creation software.
Education and Training for Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
Most environmental science and protection technician jobs require an associate’s degree, although a large percentage of technicians come to the field with a bachelor’s degree. While experience may be advantageous, many technician positions are entry level and do not require previous experience. If you are thinking of becoming an environmental technician, your coursework should include chemistry, electronics and lab technology.
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Salary
It is possible to earn a fairly decent salary in this field, which also has opportunities for advancement. The national median salary for environmental technicians is $42,200, with the possibility of making as much as $71,200 at the high end of the salary range.
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Jobs by Geography
California, Texas and New York are among the states with the greatest amounts of environmental technician jobs. On the other hand, the highest median wages are available in South Carolina, Nevada and Maryland. Use this information as a starting point in your research when making a decision as to where to focus your search for an environmental science and protection technician job.