Environmental Science and Protection Technician

views updated

Environmental Science and Protection Technician

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median—$16.99 per hour

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Environmental science and protection technicians conduct laboratory and field tests to determine the level and sources of pollution in the environment. To do this, they may have to collect samples of environmental resources to test them in a laboratory. Then, usually under the supervision of an environmental scientist, they are involved in the abatement or elimination of the sources of environmental pollution.

Technicians are involved in the regulation of waste products; testing of air, water, and soil for the levels of pollutants; management of hazardous materials; affecting compliance with environmental regulations; and the clean-up of polluted sites. They use complex instrumentation and advanced monitoring and testing equipment.

Most environmental science and protection technicians work for state and local governments or professional, scientific, and technical services firms.

Education and Training Requirements

The educational requirements for an environmental science and protection technician vary, depending on the preference of the employer. Some employers require at least two years of specialized training or an associate's degree in environmental science. Most employers demand a bachelor's degree in environmental science or a degree with a concentration of science and math courses. Several colleges and universities offer applied science technology programs, which would provide valuable training in the advanced equipment and instrumentation found in government and industrial laboratories.

Certification is required for most positions, especially when a technician is working with hazardous materials. The most common certification is the Hazardous Materials Technician certificate (also called the HAZWOPER certificate for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response), which is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Moreover, professional certification can be obtained from the National Registry of Environmental Professionals, the National Environmental Health Association, and a few other organizations. Certification requires study, experience, and the successful completion of an examination.

Getting the Job

College job placement offices can direct students to job listings and job fairs that will provide employment opportunities. Candidates can check listings at the state and local level. In addition, professional organizations, such as the National Environmental Health Association, will list available positions online.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Experienced technicians can advance to take on more responsibilities and supervise other technicians.

The job outlook for environmental science and protection technicians is expected to grow as fast as the average through 2014. Technicians will be needed to test and monitor the removal of hazardous waste and industrial pollutants from the air, soil, and water supply. Job opportunities are bright for graduates of applied science technology programs who are familiar with the high-tech equipment used in industrial and government laboratories and production facilities.

Working Conditions

Much of the work of an environmental science and protection technician is done outdoors, sometimes in remote locations. They may work irregular hours on important project that require intense monitoring. They come in contact with hazardous chemicals or materials in the course of their work. However, with strict safety procedures in place, the risk to technicians has been minimized.

Where to Go for More Information

National Environmental Health Association
720 Colorado Blvd., Ste. 970S
Denver, CO 90246
(303) 756-9090

National Registry of Environmental Professionals
P.O. Box 299
Glenview, IL 60025
(847) 724-6631

Earnings and Benefits

The median salary for an environmental science and protection technician is $16.99 per hour. Benefit packages include health and dental insurance, 401K, and paid vacation and sick days.

About this article

Environmental Science and Protection Technician

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article


Environmental Science and Protection Technician