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Environmental Technician


Description

Waste, consumption and pollution are a few of the rapidly growing environmental problems facing our society. Yet what happens to all of our chemical waste, such as an industrial cleaner after you pour it into the sink? What about shampoo and conditioner once you rinse it out of your hair? When you see black smoke pouring out of the chimney at an industrial complex, what impact is it having on the atmosphere? Environmental technicians routinely ask these questions and conduct experiments to try and find answers. The fate of our environment is a matter of increasing concern to those specializing in the technical aspects of our environment.

Environmental technicians perform a number of different tasks, depending on where they work and who they work for. Most perform laboratory and field tests to monitor environmental resources and determine the contaminants and sources of pollution. This may include collecting and analyzing field samples and suggesting remediation programs, such as changing production processes to ones that yield a more environmentally friendly product.

Accordingly, many environmental technicians assist environmental scientists and engineers in developing strategies to reduce pollution at the source and treat wastes that cannot be eliminated. They calculate the impact of human activity on the environment and seek to design methods of environmental sustainability and conservation. Some are responsible for waste management operations, control and management of hazardous materials inventory, or general activities involving regulatory compliance.

Environmental technicians may help respond to environmental emergencies, monitor stream contamination, assess pollution potential, provide technical advice regarding hazardous waste disposal and treatment methods, and evaluate risk potential of wastes. Environmental technicians try to help clean up yesterday's waste and prevent tomorrow's pollution.

Environmental technicians perform research and conduct experiments in laboratories and in offices on computers, testing and predicting possible environmental problems and generating solutions. They evaluate each project to find the most cost-effective solutions to problems while still maintaining recognized scientific methods and government standards.
 
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Ashford University
You've found Ashford University, where school comes to you. Earn your bachelor's or master's degree online.
Programs Offered:
  • BA/Environmental Studies

 

 



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
n/a
 
Median Salary:
$35,318
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
n/a

  Interests and Skills  
What does it take to become an environmental technician? First, they should be interested in sustainability and the environment. Environmental technicians need good communications skills and an affinity for mathematics, science and problem solving. They should be able to work independently as well as with a team, have incredible patience, and meticulousness.

Technicians should also enjoy synthesizing information, following directions and working with instruments at tasks requiring precision. They should also be persistent because experiments will not always yield the desired results and the environment is constantly changing.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Assist in setting up and conducting environmental experiments, tests and analyses
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus and prepare solutions and sample formulations
  • Compile records for analytical studies
  • Help determine the sources of chemicals in the environment
  • Assist in research on chemical and pollutant concentrations in environmental systems
  • Help in risk assessments of toxicants in the enivronment
  • Collect water, rock and chemical samples from the field and conduct tests on their pollution levels
  • Contribute to new and improved industrial processes and treatment systems to decrease pollution
  • Measure and categorize physical, chemical and bioactivity parameter values for chemicals of interest
  • Workplaces for environmental technicians are as varied as their job descriptions. Often, their work is done in a laboratory environment. However, when helping scientists studying the fate and effects of chemicals in the environment, a riverbed or stream may become their lab. Some companies have sophisticated indoor ecosystems in which they test their products. Others collect data outside and miles away from their own production sites. Technicians usually work standard hours, unless deadlines in a project require overtime.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Environmental technicians are employed by waste management companies, environmental groups, manufacturing and telecommunications companies, research laboratories, and hospitals. They also work for chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and pulp and paper industries, petroleum and mining companies, private consulting companies and other related environmental organizations.

  Long Term Career Potential  
What does the future hold for environmental technicians? With the increase of environmental problems, they will be required to put in hard work and effort to help repair our damaged environment. With further education, environmental technicians can become environmental technologists, scientists or engineers. Some go on to become environmental and scientific writers and even journalists.

With experience, they can move into managerial and supervisory roles, training junior level technicians and guiding the work of assistants. Environmental management is also becoming a popular career track.
 

  Educational Paths  
Environmental technicians usually require completion of a one- or two-year college program in environmental, chemical or biochemical engineering technology. Certification in environmental technology or in a related field is available through associations of technicians and may be required by some employers. Usually, a two-year period of supervised work experience is required before one can become certified as an environmental technician.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

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Ashford University
You've found Ashford University, where school comes to you. Earn your bachelor's or master's degree online.
Programs Offered:
  • BA/Environmental Studies

 
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Ohio Christian University
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Concordia University - Portland

Concordia University - Portland offers several fully online 14-month Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs and a fully online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program.

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  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Science

 
Liberty University

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

Programs Offered:
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University of California, Riverside

The University of California, Riverside
Transforming Engineers into Leaders

If you’re seeking to elevate your technical expertise and take on leadership roles in today’s global workplace, the UC Riverside online Master of Science in Engineering can deliver the highly calibrated balance of scientific and business knowledge to help you reach your goals.

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