Approximately 34,800 environmental science and protection technicians are employed in the United States. Many jobs for environmental technicians are with the government agencies that monitor the environment, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Interior. Positions are also available at the state and local levels.
Water pollution technicians may be employed by manufacturers that produce wastewater, municipal wastewater treatment facilities, private firms hired to monitor or control pollutants in water or wastewater, and government regulatory agencies responsible for protecting water quality.
Air pollution technicians work for government agencies such as regional EPA offices. They also work for private manufacturers producing airborne pollutants, research facilities, pollution control equipment manufacturers, and other employers.
Soil pollution technicians may work for federal or state departments of agriculture and EPA offices. They also work for private agricultural groups that monitor soil quality for pesticide levels.
Noise pollution technicians are employed by private companies and by government agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Graduates of two-year environmental programs are often hired by companies that have interviewed them on campus. Specific opportunities will vary depending on the part of the country, the segment of the environmental industry, the specialization of the technician (air, water, or land), the economy, and other factors. Many beginning technicians find the greatest number of positions available in state or local government agencies.
Most schools provide job-hunting advice and assistance. Direct application to state or local environmental agencies, employment agencies, or potential employers can also be a productive approach. If you hope to find employment outside your current geographic area, you may get good results by checking with professional organizations or by reading advertisements in technical journals, many of which have searchable job listings on the Internet.
The typical hierarchy for environmental work is technician (two years of postsecondary education or less), technologist (two years or more of postsecondary training), technician manager (perhaps a technician or technologist with many years of experience), and scientist or engineer (four-year bachelor of science degree or more, up to Ph.D. level).
In some private manufacturing or consulting firms, technician positions are used for training newly recruited professional staff. In such cases, workers with four-year degrees in engineering or physical science are likely to be promoted before those with two-year degrees. Employees of government agencies usually are organized under civil service systems that specify experience, education, and other criteria for advancement. Private industry promotions are structured differently and will depend on a variety of factors.
Tips for Entry
Read publications such as The Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association https://www.awma.org/journal) and Groundwater Monitoring & Remediation (https://www.ngwa.org/publications-and-news/journals/groundwater-monitoring-remediation) to learn more about the field.
For information on careers with the federal government, visit https://www.usajobs.gov.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and career information.