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What does an Environmental Technician do?

By Debra Durkee
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An environmental technician takes various skills from fields like science and technology and applies them to environmental issues and projects. Many such technicians work as consultants to other firms, giving advice about issues from testing water and soil samples from a building site to confirming that a company is complying with environmental laws. As the technician's work spans such a large area, he or she must be comfortable with computers and able to deal with individuals and employers on a one-on-one basis, in addition to being knowledgeable in the field.

Environmental technology is an umbrella term, under which there are many different types of specialized jobs. An environmental technician may be responsible for testing a city's air quality, overseeing the treatment and disposal of hazardous waste materials, or developing new technologies to improve an industry's pollution control. There are a number of scientifically driven fields, such as analysis of soil and water samples for pollution and other foreign bodies. Other individuals may be more interested in the technology side of the occupation, and prefer exploring the development of new and more cost-effective measures for minimizing the carbon footprint of a building, city, or an entire industry. There are also administrative jobs that an environmental technician can perform, such as ensuring a company is practicing correct safety procedures and analyzing the cost effectiveness of implementing new technologies.

Some individuals find work in a lab rewarding. In some environmental fields, there are already established guidelines for individuals to follow and work within. With the ever-changing world of environmental concerns, there are also areas in which individuals can establish new standards and methods for testing new technologies and systems. An environmental technician may be hired to test the cleanliness of air or soil, to establish a baseline, or to run tests that tell a business what kind of impact its procedures and processes are having on the environment. From getting and preparing samples to running lab tests and interpreting the results, many times the technician sees the job through from beginning to end.

When working within a specific industry, an environmental technician might be running samples and tests to make sure they are in compliance with governmental guidelines. He or she may take air samples to ensure that pollution released into the environment is not higher than allowed, or regularly test surrounding waters to make sure nothing is being released into the environment that should not be. Sometimes an environmental technician will interface with government agencies to make certain that all documents are properly filed and kept up to date with the industry's compliance.

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