Environmental Science Technician, Environmental Protection Technician, Environmental Technician, Health Environmental Science and Protection Technician, Environmental Specialist, Environmental Field Technician
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians observe our natural environment and explore sources of contamination and pollution. They often collect samples of soil, water, and gases for testing. Typically, these professionals specialize in either field work or lab work, although they can perform duties in both settings.
- Knowing that you are having a positive impact on the environment
- Taking pride in having a “green” job
- Being on top of the latest environmental issues that affect our world
- Playing an important role in keeping people safe
- Performing a variety of different types of tasks in a day
- Working with others who care about the welfare of people and the environment
- Set up equipment to monitor pollution levels and emissions
- Collect soil, water, and air samples for testing
- Inspect businesses and public places for environmental, heath, or safety hazards
- Use data to make reports summarizing test results and discuss them with different parties
- Make sure organizations are in compliance with regulations that prevent pollution
- Design programs that monitor the environmental impact of pollution or radiation
- Investigate outbreaks of food poisoning/disease or hazardous spills/conditions to collect data for analysis
A day in the life of an environmental science and protection technician could involve working in an office, a lab, or in the field. They work with a variety of professionals, including environmental scientists and specialists, engineers, geoscientists, hydrologists, and technicians in other fields.
- Analytical skills
- Communication skills
- Critical thinking
- Interpersonal skills
- Active listening
- Reading comprehension and speaking skills
- Science background
- Analytical or scientific software
- Computer aided design (CAD) software
- Electronic mail software
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software
- Map creation software
- state or local governments
- consulting firms
- testing laboratories
For some professionals in this field, their day to day work can be dramatically affected by the weather. Longer hours may be required when conditions are favorable to being outside to take samples and gather data. Being willing to work in various conditions and being flexible with schedule changes will help someone advance to higher positions.
- Increasing renewable energy sources
- Reducing energy consumption
- Promoting regenerative agriculture
- Greater usage of plastic recycling and biodegradable products
- Addressing human waste management
- Better climate change practices
- Curbing carbon emissions from cement
- Making air travel more energy efficient and eco-friendly
- Liked being outdoors and doing hands-on activities
- Liked science and researching topics they find interesting
- Curious about the environment, plants, and animals
- Feel strongly about the welfare of our planet and want to make a difference in the world
- Environmental science and protection technicians generally need at least an associate’s degree to enter the field. Some positions may not require an associate’s but not having this formal education will decrease your earning potential.
- A bachelor’s degree may be required for some positions depending on the job responsibilities and scope of work.
- College majors can include environmental science, environmental health, engineering, public health, occupational health and safety or a related degree with coursework in biology, chemistry, geology, math, statistics, and computer science.
- Additional training, licensure, and certification will be required to perform tasks related to specific fields.
- Technicians whose jobs involve handling hazardous waste typically need to complete training in accordance with Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standards. The length of training depends on the type of hazardous material that workers handle. The training covers health hazards, personal protective equipment and clothing, site safety, recognizing and identifying hazards, and decontamination.
- In some states, environmental science and protection technicians can benefit from obtaining certification to conduct certain types of environmental and health inspections.
- For example, certification for technicians who test buildings for radon is offered through the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB).
- The Registered Environmental Health Specialist/Registered Sanitarian (REHS/RS) credential is offered through the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA).
Academically, students in this profession should take classes in:
- Environmental Science
- Health Sciences
Outside of the classroom, students can get involved with river clean-up projects, adopt a highway programs, or other volunteer environmental projects to gain real world experience in this occupation. They can also participate in extracurricular activities that involve working with a team to reach a goal. Practicing communication and leadership skills within a group will be helpful. As an environmental science and protection technician, working closely with others to share ideas and solve problems is an important part of the job.
- The connections you make during your time in school, as well as during your internship, could lead to your first job offer.
- Volunteer for local causes and events that promote environmental issues. These activities will expose you to like-minded people who may know of job opportunities.
- Set up informational interviews with professionals in your field. These types of informal meetings can lead to concrete job offers.
- National Environmental Health Association
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals
- National Association of Environmental Professionals
These job titles have similar responsibilities as an environmental science and protection technician:
- Agricultural and food science technicians
- Biological technicians
- Chemical technicians
- Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians
- Environmental engineering technicians
- Environmental scientists and specialists
- Forensic science technicians
- Geological sample test technicians and geoscientists
- Environmental compliance inspectors
- Geodetic surveyors
- Soil and water conservationists
Environmental science and protections jobs are rated #3 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 “Best Science Jobs” based on expected growth, salary, unemployment rate, stress level, work/life balance and other factors. For those who are interested in the natural world and having a positive impact on the future, the field of environmental science and protection can be a great professional pursuit.