Environmental Science and Protection Technicians

What Environmental Science and Protection Technicians Do

Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxmbHQnxnZg

Work Environment

Environmental science and protection technicians work in offices, laboratories, and the field.

How to Become an Environmental Science and Protection Technician

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

Pay

The median annual wage for environmental science and protection technicians was $46,540 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of environmental science and protection technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 2,900 new jobs over the 10-year period.

Environmental science and protection technicians monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and contamination, including those affecting public health.

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 that 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, technicians 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 consulting firms, state or local governments, or testing laboratories.

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.

In state and local governments, environmental science and protection technicians inspect businesses and public places, and investigate complaints related to air quality, water quality, and food safety. They may be involved with the enforcement of environmental regulations. They also may help protect the environment and people’s health by performing environmental impact studies of new construction. Or they may evaluate the environmental health of sites that may contaminate the environment, such as abandoned industrial sites.

In testing laboratories, environmental science and protection technicians collect and track samples, and perform tests that are often similar to those carried out by chemical technicians, biological technicians, or microbiologists. However, in contrast to the work done by these science workers, that done by environmental science and protection technicians focuses on topics that are directly related to the environment and how it affects human health.

Environmental science and protection technicians typically specialize either in 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.

Environmental science and protection technicians held about 34,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of environmental science and protection technicians were as follows:

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 24%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 19
Testing laboratories 12
Engineering services 7
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6

Environmental science and protection technicians work in laboratories, offices, and the field. Fieldwork offers a variety of settings. For example, technicians may investigate an abandoned manufacturing plant, or work outdoors to test the water quality of lakes and rivers. They may work near streams and rivers, monitoring the levels of pollution caused by runoff from cities and landfills, or they may have to use the crawl spaces under a house in order to neutralize natural health risks such as radon. While working outdoors, they may be exposed to adverse weather conditions.

In the field, environmental science and protection technicians spend most of their time on their feet, which can be physically demanding. They also may need to carry and set up testing equipment, which can involve some heavy lifting and frequent bending and crouching. Fieldwork may be seasonal, depending on the location, since low temperatures in the winter could inhibit taking samples from water sources or soil.

Depending on the type of work and fieldwork they do, technicians may need to wear protective gear such as hardhats, masks, and coveralls to protect them from hazards.

Work Schedules

Environmental science and protection technicians typically work full time. Working in the field exposes them to all types of weather. Also, technicians may need to travel to meet with clients or to perform fieldwork, either of which may require technicians to work additional or irregular hours.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of environmental science and protection technicians.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Agricultural and Food Science Technicians

Agricultural and food science technicians assist agricultural and food scientists.

Associate’s degree $41,230

Biological Technicians

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.

Bachelor’s degree $45,860

Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians use special instruments and techniques to assist chemists and chemical engineers.

Associate’s degree $49,260

Environmental Engineering Technicians

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

Associate’s degree $50,620

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health.

Bachelor’s degree $71,360

Forensic science technicians

Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence.

Bachelor’s degree $59,150

Geoscientists

Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth.

Bachelor’s degree $92,040

Hydrologists

Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust.

Bachelor’s degree $81,270

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians

Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances.

Bachelor’s degree $53,120

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures.

See How to Become One $70,480

For more information about environmental health technicians and related occupations, visit

National Environmental Health Association

For more information about training, visit

UCAR

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

For more information specific to radon technicians, visit

National Radon Safety Board

O*NET

Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Including Health


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Environmental Science and Protection Technicians,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-science-and-protection-technicians.htm (visited ).