Environmental engineering technicians carry out the plans that environmental engineers develop.

Duties

Environmental engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Set up, test, operate, and modify equipment used to prevent or clean up environmental pollution
  • Maintain project records and computer program files
  • Conduct pollution surveys, for which they collect and analyze samples, such as samples of air and ground water
  • Perform indoor and outdoor work on environmental quality
  • Work to mitigate sources of environmental pollution
  • Review technical documents to ensure their completeness and conformance to requirements
  • Review work plans to schedule activities
  • Arrange for the disposal of lead, asbestos, and other hazardous materials

In laboratories, environmental engineering technicians record observations, test results, and document photographs. To keep laboratories supplied, they also may gather product information, identify vendors and suppliers, and order materials and equipment.

Environmental engineering technicians help environmental engineers develop devices used to clean up environmental pollution. They also inspect facilities for compliance with the regulations that govern substances such as asbestos, lead, and wastewater.

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Work Environment

Environmental engineering technicians held about 17,900 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of environmental engineering technicians were as follows:

Engineering services 21%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 20
Government 17
Waste management and remediation services 11
Manufacturing 7

Environmental engineering technicians work under the direction of engineers and as part of a team with other technicians. They must be able to work well with both supervisors and peers.

Environmental engineering technicians typically work indoors, usually in laboratories, and often have regular working hours. They also work outdoors, sometimes in remote locations.

Because environmental engineering technicians help out in environmental cleanup, they can be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals, or toxic materials. For this reason, they must follow proper safety procedures, such as wearing hazmat suits and sometimes respirators, even in warm weather. When they work in wet areas, environmental engineering technicians wear heavy rubber boots to keep their legs and feet dry.

Work Schedules

Most environmental engineering technicians work full time and typically have regular hours. However, they must sometimes work irregular hours in order to monitor operations or contain a major environmental threat.

Education and Training

Environmental engineering technicians typically need an associate’s degree in environmental engineering technology or a related field.

Education

Environmental engineering technicians typically need an associate’s degree in environmental engineering technology or a related field. Programs in environmental engineering technology generally include courses in mathematics, chemistry, hazardous-waste management, and environmental assessment, among others.

Programs can be found in vocational–technical schools and community colleges. Both types of school offer similar programs, but community colleges include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework. Some environmental engineering technicians enter the occupation with a bachelor’s degree in a natural science, such as biology or chemistry.

ABET accredits engineering and engineering technology programs at the associate’s level and above.

Prospective engineering technicians should take as many high school science and math courses as possible to prepare for programs in engineering technology after high school.

Training

Some environmental technician positions require training on working with hazardous materials in accordance with Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standards.

Advancement

Environmental engineering technicians usually begin work as trainees in entry-level positions supervised by an environmental engineer or a more experienced technician. As they gain experience, technicians take on more responsibility and carry out assignments under general supervision. Some eventually enter positions as senior environmental technicians or lead environmental technicians, who function as supervisors when onsite.

Technicians with a bachelor’s degree often are able to advance to become environmental engineers.

Personality and Interests

Environmental engineering technicians typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as an environmental engineering technician, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Environmental engineering technicians should also possess the following specific qualities:

Critical-thinking skills. Environmental engineers rely on environmental engineering technicians to help identify problems and their solutions and to implement the engineers’ plans. To do these tasks, technicians must be able to think critically and logically.

Listening skills. Environmental engineering technicians must be able to listen carefully to the instructions that engineers give them.

Observational skills. Environmental engineering technicians are the eyes and ears of environmental engineers and must assume responsibility for properly evaluating situations onsite. These technicians must be able to recognize problems so that the environmental engineers are informed as quickly as possible.

Reading skills. Environmental engineering technicians must be able to read and understand legal and technical documents to ensure that regulatory requirements are being met.

Pay

The median annual wage for environmental engineering technicians was $50,620 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $82,930.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for environmental engineering technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Manufacturing $56,780
Government 56,520
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 50,820
Engineering services 49,590
Waste management and remediation services 42,220

Most environmental engineering technicians work full time and typically have regular hours. However, they must sometimes work irregular hours in order to monitor operations or contain a major environmental threat.

Job Outlook

Employment of environmental engineering technicians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment in this occupation is typically tied to projects created by environmental engineers. State and local governments are expected to focus their efforts and resources on efficient water use, storm water management, and wastewater treatment over the next decade. The demand for more environmental technicians by consulting firms will arise as governments and larger firms look to reduce costs.

For More Information

For more information about accredited programs, visit

ABET

For more information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

Technology Student Association

For information on OSHA certification, visit

U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration

 

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

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