environmental engineering technician

An environmental engineering technician could...

Set up experiments to test new methods for cleaning up oil spills. workers cleaning an oil spill on a beach Inspect and maintain the machinery in a recycling plant. conveyor belt  in recycling plant
Test water downstream from a factory to determine whether pollution control requirements are being met. factory with water nearby Decontaminate equipment after a hazardous materials accident. person in hazard suit decontaminating workspace
Find out more...

Key Facts & Information

Overview Smog, car emissions, industry waste—unfortunately, pollution is a reality that humans have to deal with. However, we can all breathe a little easier with environmental engineering technicians on the job. These people test our water, air, and soil to help us find ways to lessen the impact of pollution.
Key Requirements The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, good reasoning skills, strong written and oral comprehension, and must enjoy working on teams and with people
Minimum Degree Associate's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, algebra II, English; if available, computer science, environmental science, applied technology
Median Salary
Environmental Engineering Technician
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
Min Wage
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) Average (7% to 13%) In Demand!
Interview Learn about these hard working environmental technicians (enviro techs for short) in Seattle, Washington who put in everyday on the water—no matter what time it is or what the conditions are like.
Related Occupations
Source: O*Net

Training, Other Qualifications

Most environmental engineering technicians enter the occupation with an associate's degree in environmental engineering technology. Training is available at technical institutes, community colleges, extension divisions of colleges and universities, public and private vocational-technical schools, and in the Armed Forces. Because the type and quality of training programs vary considerably, prospective students should carefully investigate training programs before enrolling.

Training in technical areas may be obtained in the Armed Forces. Many military technical training programs are highly regarded by employers; however, skills acquired in military programs are often narrowly focused and might be of limited applicability in civilian industry, which often requires broader training. Therefore, some additional training may be needed, depending on the acquired skills and the kind of job.

Environmental engineering technicians usually begin by performing routine duties under the close supervision of an experienced technician, technologist, engineer, or scientist. As they gain experience, they are given more difficult assignments with only general supervision. Some environmental engineering technicians eventually become supervisors.

Education and Training

An associate's degree in environmental engineering technology is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions. Although it may be possible to qualify for certain engineering technician jobs without formal training, most employers prefer to hire someone with at least a 2-year associate's degree in environmental engineering technology. People with college courses in science, engineering, and mathematics may qualify for some positions, but may need additional specialized training and experience. Prospective environmental engineering technicians should take as many high school science and math courses as possible to prepare for programs in environmental engineering technology after high school.

The type of technical courses required depends on the specialty. Those preparing to work in environmental engineering technology need courses in environmental regulations and safe handling of hazardous materials.

Other Qualifications

Because many environmental engineering technicians assist in problem solving, creativity is desirable. Good communication skills and the ability to work well with others are also important, as environmental engineering technicians are typically part of a team of engineers and other technicians.

Watch this video about environmental engineering technicians. Do you think that you would like to be an environmental detective and figure out ways to reduce the impact of pollution?

Nature of the Work

Environmental engineering technicians use the principles and theories of science, engineering, and mathematics to solve technical problems in research and development, inspection, and maintenance. Their work is more narrowly focused and application-oriented than that of scientists and engineers. Many environmental engineering technicians assist engineers and scientists, especially in research and development. Environmental engineering technicians who work in research and development build or set up equipment, prepare and conduct experiments, collect data, calculate or record results, and help engineers or scientists in other ways, such as making prototype versions of newly designed equipment.

Environmental engineering technicians work closely with environmental engineers and scientists to develop methods and devices used in the prevention, control, or correction of environmental hazards. They inspect and maintain equipment related to air pollution and recycling. Some inspect water and wastewater treatment systems to ensure that pollution control requirements are met.

Work Environment

Most environmental engineering technicians work 40 hours a week in laboratories, or outdoors. Some may be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals, or toxic materials.

On the Job

  • Receive, set up, test, and decontaminate equipment.
  • Maintain project logbook records and computer program files.
  • Conduct pollution surveys, collecting and analyzing samples such as air and ground water.
  • Perform environmental quality work in field and office settings.
  • Review technical documents to ensure completeness and conformance to requirements.
  • Perform laboratory work such as logging numerical and visual observations, preparing and packaging samples, recording test results, and performing photo documentation.
  • Review work plans to schedule activities.
  • Obtain product information, identify vendors and suppliers, and order materials and equipment to maintain inventory.
  • Arrange for the disposal of lead, asbestos and other hazardous materials.
  • Inspect facilities to monitor compliance with regulations governing substances such as asbestos, lead, and wastewater.
  • Provide technical engineering support in the planning of projects, such as wastewater treatment plants, to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and policies.
  • Improve chemical processes to reduce toxic emissions.
  • Oversee support staff.
  • Assist in the cleanup of hazardous material spills.
  • Produce environmental assessment reports, tabulating data and preparing charts, graphs and sketches.
  • Maintain process parameters and evaluate process anomalies.
  • Work with customers to assess the environmental impact of proposed construction and to develop pollution prevention programs.
  • Perform statistical analysis and correction of air or water pollution data submitted by industry and other agencies.
  • Develop work plans, including writing specifications and establishing material, manpower and facilities needs.

Source: BLS

Companies That Hire Environmental Engineering Technicians

Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...

Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
How can seawater from the oceans be turned into fresh water that is suitable for people to drink? Through a process called solar desalination! In this science project, you will make a solar desalination apparatus using readily available materials, and a power source that is free. How much water can the device produce, and is it still salty at all? What factors affect how effectively saltwater is turned into fresh water? Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Of course it can, you say: ice is water and ice floats! And you're right. But we're talking about water in the liquid phase (the title reads better without getting overly specific). So how about it? Can liquid water float on water? Check out this project to find out. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Earth, the Sun, wind, and water are all sources of renewable and sustainable energy—and sources you probably already know about. But did you know that you can get energy from such things as banana peels, coffee grounds, and newspaper? In a process called composting, you can transform kitchen and other solid wastes into a product that is beneficial for your garden: homemade fertilizer. As the waste decomposes, it also creates heat. Can this naturally created heat be put to use? In this… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever seen news coverage or other pictures of an oil spill in the ocean and wondered how all of that oil could be cleaned up? Oil spills can devastate wildlife by covering them with oil, and they can damage our precious water resources by contaminating them with oil. Part of the problem of dealing with oil spills is that the oil can be challenging to clean up. In this science project, you will test the absorptivity of different materials (called sorbents) to discover which ones are best… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Your drinking water probably started out brown and muddy. Are you surprised? Maybe you were picturing it flowing from a clean mountain spring instead? All over the world, including in 68% of American homes, people get their drinking water from rivers, lakes, and other surface waters. This water is filled with dirt, debris, and other contaminants as it travels hundreds of miles. So, how does your drinking water go from brown and muddy to crystal clear? Often, flocculants—substances that… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
What do humans need to survive? We need food, water, and warm shelter. We all need a warm place to live, particularly when it's chilly outside. How do many of us warm our houses or apartments? We depend on fossil fuels to supply gas and electricity to our heaters. But burning fossil fuels to create energy is harmful to the environment. What if there was a way to warm our homes without burning fossil fuels and it was free? In this science fair project, you will build a solar air heater and see… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
You might not know it, but a lake without algae would be a very dull place. If there were no algae, there would be no small animals feeding on the algae, and there wouldn't be any fish eating the small animals that eat the algae. You might conclude that since some algae is good, more algae is even better, but algae growth has a down side. If there is too much algae, they can deplete the oxygen in the water, killing off other species in the water. What is one culprit that leads to algal growth?… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
The enormous task of cleaning up oil spills in oceans and seas has burdened industry, government, and environmentalists for decades. The cleanup is almost always difficult. It involves great amounts of time, resources, and money to remove the oil from the water, and the cleanup is often only partially successful. Today, however, scientists are coming to the rescue, developing a new technique that combines nanotechnology and magnetism. In this science project, you will test the proposed… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
No one can deny the devastating consequences of an oil spill on the local wildlife. Oil affects all levels of the ecosystem, from plants to fish and birds. What happens to water plants if you add motor oil to their pot? What is the effect of motor oil on the health of a goldfish, or water insects? What happens to the barbs of a bird feather if they are dipped in oil? Can you test different types of environmentally-friendly detergents for cleaning the bird feathers? Can you test different… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Isn't it nice to take a nice, hot shower or bath after a long day of playing outside? But have you really thought about how the hot water in your shower or bath gets hot? Sure, the water heater in your house gets it hot, but what makes the water heater work? Water heaters are powered by natural gas or electricity. But are there any other ways to heat water? What about using the Sun? In this science fair project, you'll give it a try by capturing energy from the Sun to heat water. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Do you know that many consumer products, such as sports clothes, cosmetics, and even food containers contain tiny silver particles? These so-called nanoparticles—usually 1–100 nanometers (a billionth of a meter) in size—are toxic to bacteria and fungi and therefore, are used to prevent them from growing on everyday items you use. But what happens if the silver nanoparticles get into the water; for example, when you wash off your makeup or clean your clothes? Do they… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Did you know that there is plastic in the ocean? It probably isn't too hard to imagine that some of the plastic that litters roadways, sidewalks, and parks finds its way into the ocean. So, how much do you think is in there? Hundreds of pounds of plastic? How about thousands of pounds? No one knows for sure, but estimates, based on scientific surveys, suggest the amount is in the range of millions of pounds of plastic! Of course, the ocean is big, over 300 million square kilometers, so… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Have you ever thought about being stranded on a desert island? How would you find water to drink? What would you need to survive? In this science fair project you'll discover how to turn the ocean into a source of freshwater by using the power of the Sun. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Earth's atmosphere, the ocean of air that blankets the planet, is mostly nitrogen and oxygen, with small amounts of other gases. How much oxygen is present in air at sea level? In air high up in the Appalachians or Rockies? Atop Mount Everest? How much oxygen is present in the air you breathe? Here's a project that shows you how to measure the percentage of oxygen in an air sample. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
When pesticides are applied to protect crops, run-off of potentially harmful pesticides is a major problem. Can water plants such as hardstem bulrush, common cattail, parrotfeather and smooth scouring rush promote pesticide breakdown? If so, diversion of irrigation run-off into plant-filled ponds could help reduce pesticide pollution. Mix malathion at 12.5% of the recommended application strength (to simulate dilution by rain or irrigation water). Use 5-gallon buckets for testing various… Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
Watch out! It's Eddy Vortex, Superhero! He swirls, he tumbles, he churns up air and water! OK, maybe eddies and vortices aren't exactly superheroes, but they are powerful regions of air and water flow that you have to watch out for in some surprising places. Try out this science fair project to discover why, as well as where and how to find them. Read more
Log in to add favorite
Science Fair Project Idea
In the fairy tale of the three little pigs, the wolf huffed and puffed and blew down the first pig's straw house. But in reality, straw, tied into bales, is a viable building material that, when used properly, makes sturdy and energy-efficient buildings. Straw is a renewable resource that is available all over the world since it is the byproduct of growing grain. In this science fair project, you will test a straw bale covered with stucco to see if it's water resistant, and evaluate if it's… Read more

Ask Questions

Do you have a specific question about a career as an Environmental Engineering Technician that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.


Additional Support

We'd like to acknowledge the additional support of:

  • Chevron
Free science fair projects.