Environmental Engineering Technicians

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What Environmental Engineering Technicians Do[About this section] [To Top]

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

Duties of Environmental Engineering Technicians

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 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.

Work Environment for Environmental Engineering Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Environmental engineering technicians hold about 18,600 jobs. The industries that employ the most environmental engineering technicians are as follows:

Engineering services 23%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 23
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 12
Waste management and remediation services 9
Testing laboratories 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.

Environmental Engineering Technician 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.

How to Become an Environmental Engineering Technician[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Environmental Engineering Technicians near you!

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

Environmental Engineering Technician 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. Community colleges offer programs similar to those in vocational-technical schools but 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.

Important Qualities for Environmental Engineering Technicians

Communication skills. When working on teams, environmental engineering technicians must be able to listen well and report back to their group or team leader.

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

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 in order to ensure that regulatory requirements are being met.

Advancement for Environmental Engineering Technicians

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.

Environmental Engineering Technician Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for environmental engineering technicians is $48,170. 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 $30,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $77,030.

The median annual wages for environmental engineering technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $54,860
Engineering services 50,370
Waste management and remediation services 45,460
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 44,990
Testing laboratories 39,890

Nearly all 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 for Environmental Engineering Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of environmental engineering technicians is projected to grow 10 percent through 2024, 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. These areas of emphasis should serve to increase demand for environmental engineering technicians. There will also be demand for environmental technicians working in consulting firms as governments and larger firms look to reduce costs.

The increasing call to clean up contaminated sites, as mandated by Congress and directed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is expected to help sustain demand for environmental engineering technicians’ services. Recently, the EPA expanded its purview under the Clean Water Act to cover tributaries. Environmental engineering technicians are expected to be needed to help utilities and water treatment plants comply with new federal or state environmental regulations.

Employment projections data for Environmental Engineering Technicians, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Environmental engineering technicians 18,600 20,400 10 1,900


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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