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Environmental Science Technician Careers

What Does an Environmental Science Technician Do

Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination, including those affecting public health. In addition, they work to ensure that environmental violations are prevented.

Duties

Environmental science and protection technicians typically do the following:

  • Inspect establishments, including public places and businesses, to ensure that there are no environmental, health, or safety hazards
  • Set up and maintain equipment used to monitor pollution levels, such as remote sensors that measure emissions from smokestacks
  • Collect samples of air, soil, water, and other materials for laboratory analysis
  • Clearly label, track, and ensure the integrity of samples being transported to the laboratory
  • Use equipment such as microscopes to evaluate and analyze samples for the presence of pollutants or other contaminants
  • Prepare charts and reports that summarize test results
  • Discuss test results and analyses with clients
  • Verify compliance with regulations to help prevent pollution

Many environmental science and protection technicians work under the supervision of environmental scientists and specialists, who direct the technicians’ work and evaluate their results. In addition, they often work on teams with scientists, engineers, and technicians in other fields to solve complex problems related to environmental degradation and public health. For example, they may work on teams with geoscientists and hydrologists to manage the cleanup of contaminated soils and ground water around an abandoned bomb manufacturing site.

Most environmental science and protection technicians work for state or local governments, testing laboratories, or consulting firms.

In state and local governments, environmental science and protection technicians spend a lot of time inspecting businesses and public places, and investigating complaints related to air quality, water quality, and food safety. Sometimes they may be involved with enforcement of environmental regulations. They may help protect the environment and people’s health by performing environmental impact studies of new construction or by evaluating the environmental health of sites that may contaminate the environment, such as abandoned industrial sites.

Environmental science and protection technicians work in testing laboratories collecting and tracking samples, and performing tests that are often similar to what is done by chemical technicians, biological technicians, or microbiologists. However, the work done by environmental science and protection technicians focuses on topics that are directly related to the environment and how it affects human health.

In consulting firms, environmental science and protection technicians help clients monitor and manage the environment and comply with regulations. For example, they help businesses develop cleanup plans for contaminated sites, and they recommend ways to reduce, control, or eliminate pollution. Also, environmental science and protection technicians conduct feasibility studies for, and monitor the environmental impact of new construction projects.

Environmental science and protection technicians typically specialize in either laboratory testing or in fieldwork and sample collection. However, it is common for laboratory technicians to occasionally collect samples from the field, and for fieldworkers to do some work in a laboratory.

How To Become an Environmental Science Technician

Environmental science and protection technicians typically need an associate’s degree or 2 years of postsecondary education, although some positions may require a bachelor’s degree.

Education

Environmental science and protection technicians typically need an associate’s degree in environmental science, environmental health, public health, or a related degree. Because of the wide range of tasks, environments, and industries in which these technicians work, there are jobs that do not require postsecondary education and others that require a bachelor’s degree.

A background in natural sciences is important for environmental science and protection technicians. Students should take courses in chemistry, biology, geology, and physics. Coursework in mathematics, statistics, and computer science also is useful because technicians routinely do data analysis and modeling.

Many schools offer internships and cooperative-education programs, which help students gain valuable experience while attending school. Internships and cooperative-education experience can enhance the students’ employment prospects.

Many technical and community colleges offer programs in environmental studies or a related technology, such as remote sensing or geographic information systems (GISs). Associate’s degree programs at community colleges traditionally are designed to easily transfer to bachelor’s degree programs at public colleges and universities.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Environmental science and protection technicians must be able to carry out a wide range of laboratory and field tests, and their results must be accurate and precise.

Communication skills. Environmental science and protection technicians must have good listening and writing skills, because they must follow precise directions for sample collection and communicate their results effectively in their written reports. They also may need to discuss their results with colleagues, clients, and sometimes public audiences.

Critical-thinking skills. Environmental science and protection technicians reach their conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They have to be able to determine the best way to address environmental hazards.

Interpersonal skills. Environmental science and protection technicians need to be able to work well and collaborate with others, because they often work with scientists and other technicians.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In some states, environmental science and protection technicians need a license to do certain types of environmental and health inspections. For example, some states require licensing for technicians who test buildings for radon. Licensure requirements vary by state but typically include certain levels of education and experience and a passing score on an exam.

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Average Salary
$39,806
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
9%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
27,481
Job Openings

Environmental Science Technician Career Paths

Top Careers Before Environmental Science Technician

Top Careers After Environmental Science Technician

Cashier
9.2 %

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Average Salary for an Environmental Science Technician

Environmental Science Technicians in America make an average salary of $39,806 per year or $19 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $51,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $30,000 per year.
Average Salary
$39,806

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Berkeley, CA
Salary Range45k - 75k$58k$58,186
Davis, CA
Salary Range44k - 73k$58k$57,532
Islandia, NY
Salary Range40k - 73k$55k$54,999
Elmsford, NY
Salary Range40k - 72k$54k$53,958
Tustin, CA
Salary Range40k - 64k$51k$50,924
San Antonio, TX
Salary Range35k - 58k$45k$45,247
$28k
$75k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
Alamo Analytical Laboratories, Ltd.
Alamo Analytical Laboratories, Ltd.
03/06/2019
03/06/2019
$39,83203/06/2019
$39,832
Environmental Science Tecnician
Environmental Science Tecnician
Bainbridge Environmental Consultants Inc.
Bainbridge Environmental Consultants Inc.
03/06/2018
03/06/2018
$39,13103/06/2018
$39,131
Environmental Science Tecnician
Environmental Science Tecnician
Bainbridge Environmental Consultants Inc.
Bainbridge Environmental Consultants Inc.
03/06/2018
03/06/2018
$35,98003/06/2018
$35,980
Environmental Science and Protection Technician
Environmental Science and Protection Technician
Kam Consultants Corp.
Kam Consultants Corp.
02/26/2018
02/26/2018
$47,84002/26/2018
$47,840
Environmental Science and Protection Technician
Environmental Science and Protection Technician
Gabriel Laboratories Ltd.
Gabriel Laboratories Ltd.
04/21/2017
04/21/2017
$34,75704/21/2017
$34,757
See More Recent Salaries

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Environmental Science Technician Demographics

Gender

male

51.2 %

female

43.9 %

unknown

4.9 %

Ethnicity

White

62.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

12.8 %

Asian

12.2 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0 %
See More Demographics

Environmental Science Technician Education

Degrees

Bachelors

63.9 %

Associate

14.8 %

Certificate

11.5 %

Top Colleges for Environmental Science Technicians

1. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,184
Enrollment
30,845

2. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

3. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

5. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

6. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Minneapolis, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$14,760
Enrollment
31,451

7. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

8. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

9. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

10. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567
See More Education Info
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Internship
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Top Skills For an Environmental Science Technician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 19.0% of environmental science technicians listed environmental compliance on their resume, but soft skills such as interpersonal skills and analytical skills are important as well.

Best States For an Environmental Science Technician

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an environmental science technician. The best states for people in this position are Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Environmental science technicians make the most in Delaware with an average salary of $65,139. Whereas in Connecticut and Rhode Island, they would average $62,052 and $59,822, respectively. While environmental science technicians would only make an average of $56,367 in Massachusetts, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Connecticut

Total Environmental Science Technician Jobs:
437
Highest 10% Earn:
$107,000
Location Quotient:
1.37
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Nevada

Total Environmental Science Technician Jobs:
239
Highest 10% Earn:
$85,000
Location Quotient:
1.19
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Rhode Island

Total Environmental Science Technician Jobs:
136
Highest 10% Earn:
$102,000
Location Quotient:
1.16
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Environmental Science Technician Employers

1. Fluor B&w
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$42,482
Environmental Science Technicians Hired: 
3+
2. Versar
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$40,714
Environmental Science Technicians Hired: 
3+
3. The Bainbridge Companies
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$39,446
Environmental Science Technicians Hired: 
2+
4. UNIVERSITY Of Nevada Las Vegas
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$35,716
Environmental Science Technicians Hired: 
2+
5. United States Army
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$37,796
Environmental Science Technicians Hired: 
2+
6. AECOM
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$55,168
Environmental Science Technicians Hired: 
2+
Updated October 2, 2020