How to Become an Environmental Engineering Technician


Although there are other paths to take, the most common way to become an environmental engineering technician is to follow these steps:


1. Make sure you have the right personal traits for this work

2. Pursue an associate’s degree related to environmental engineering technology 

3. Get work experience as a student via internship and co-op opportunities 

4. Get an entry-level job after graduation

5. Advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay, or into roles in related fields


Below, we've expanded on these points to give you a good idea of what you'll need to begin a career as an environmental engineering technician in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as what you’ll be doing, what you could earn, and job postings in your area!



What Education Will I Need?

Typically, the minimum education requirement for being hired as an environmental engineering technologist is an associate’s degree or a diploma/certificate in one of the following fields:


• Environmental Technology

• Environmental Science

• Environmental Engineering Technology

• Environmental Protection


These programs often consist of mandatory internship or co-op work, which will give you practical experience before you graduate. 





What is an Environmental Engineering Technician?

Environmental engineering technicians are responsible for applying environmental engineering theories and principles to help environmental scientists and engineers ensure that facilities, infrastructures and actions minimize impact on the environment. They modify, test and operate equipment used in wastewater treatment, site remediation and other pollution control measures.



What Do They Do?

In general, an environmental engineering technician is responsible for performing the following tasks:


• Receiving and setting up equipment

• Collecting and analyzing ground water and air samples in order to determine pollution levels

• Performing environmental quality control work in field and office settings

• Reducing toxic emissions by improving chemical processes

• Inspecting industrial facilities to ensure compliance with regulations and legislation pertaining to substances such as lead, wastewater and asbestos

• Arranging for the safe disposal of lead, asbestos and other hazardous materials

• Providing technical engineering support in the planning of projects, such as wastewater treatment plants

• Sourcing and purchasing materials and supplies

• Reviewing work plans in order to properly schedule activities



Will I Need Certification?

In many cases, environmental engineering technicians need to be certified/accredited by their local provincial, state and/or federal council of technicians and technologists. Certification often consists of completing a relevant diploma/degree program, and completing a set amount of hours of work experience. Please contact your local council to find out more about certification/accreditation requirements. 



What Courses Should I Take in High School?

Excelling at math, chemistry, biology, physics, environmental studies and computer science will serve as excellent preparation for this career while you’re a high school student. Be sure to do well in these areas if you have the opportunity to take any of these courses. 


Success Tip: Excelling at coursework in these areas will help prepare you for the work involved in this career at an early age, and will help you qualify for environmental engineering technology programs!





Should I Become an Environmental Engineering Technician?

If you have the following personal traits you should be well-suited for this line of work:


• You can communicate effectively through public speaking, clear writing, and active listening

• You can take direction from others

• You’re interested in a career that involves field, office and lab work

• You’re interested in using specialized technology and software in your work

• You’re interested in observing, recording, and reporting data

• You have a keen interest in promoting effective health and safety practices

• You can demonstrate ethical behaviours and practices

• You want to apply analytical and research skills and sustainability principles to environmental issues for a living



What is the Average Salary Level?

Environmental engineering technologists earn a median salary of $48,650 per year in the United States. Their salary can vary based on factors such as their level of experience, the amount of responsibility inherent in their job, the size and type of their employer, the region in which they work, and other factors. 


More About Salary Levels

As mentioned above, the salary level you could earn as an environmental engineering technician can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education, experience and certification

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• Many other factors


Salary - Alberta: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the overall average salary of Albertans working in the “Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians” occupational group (to which ‘Environmental Engineering Technicians’ belong) is $70,662 per year.


Salary - Canada: According to ECO Canada, Environmental Technicians in entry-level positions typically earn between $33,000 and $36,500 per year in Canada. With a few years of experience and relevant education, they  can earn between $45,500 and $70,500 per year.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall median salary level of Americans working in the “Environmental Engineering Technicians” occupational group is $48,650 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries are below $29,270 and the highest 10% of salaries are above $77,590.



Who Employs Them?

There are a number of places environmental engineering technicians can typically find employment, including:


• Environmental and engineering consulting firms

• Government departments (such as Parks, Public Works, and Transportation)

• Colleges, universities, and research institutes

• Municipal and industrial treatment facilities

• Firms in other industries such as manufacturing, mining, forestry, and transportation

• Oil and gas companies

• Not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

• Land development companies 

• Public or private utilities concerns 



Environmental Engineering Technician Jobs

Our job board below has current postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 




What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you’re willing to constantly learn and improve your craft and expand your knowledge, then you'll see plenty of career advancement opportunities.


With a proven track record of success you could move into roles of greater responsibility and pay, including lead technician, project supervisor or project manager.


You might also decide to move to a related field, such as recycling management, technology sales or environmental auditing. By advancing your education and earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering, you could also become an environmental engineer, or work in teaching or research if you earn a graduate degree.



What is the Work Environment Like?

Most environmental engineering technicians work full-time (40 hours a week) in laboratories, or outdoors. Some may be exposed to hazards from equipment, chemicals, or toxic materials. Below is a breakdown of their typical duties, based on their work setting:


In the office:

• Doing paperwork and analyzing data 

• Preparing reports

• Consulting operating manuals 

• Researching new technology

• Communicating with clients, colleagues, government departments, and the public

• Researching applicable regulations and compliance requirements


In the field:

• Collecting air, water, and soil samples

• Carrying out field analyses to determine environmental conditions

• Observing and inspecting sites

• Performing maintenance and repairing equipment

• Auditing and calibrating specialized instruments 


In the lab:

• Testing collected samples

• Observing and collecting data



What are Careers Similar to This One?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “environmental engineering technician”:


• Agricultural Engineer 

• Civil Engineering Technologist

• Drafting Technician

• Environmental Analyst

• Environmental Engineer

• Environmental Scientist

• Geologist 

• Hazardous Waste Technologist

• Land Surveyor 



What Scholarships Are There Relevant to Getting Into This Field?

All of the scholarships on our “Environmental Engineering Scholarships” and "Civil Engineering Scholarships" pages are relevant for becoming an environmental engineering technician. 


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a environmental engineering technician:


• Occupational Profile: “Civil Engineering Technologist.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 14, 2019. 

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Environmental Engineering Technicians.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved February 24, 2017.

• Career Profiles: “Environmental Technician/Technologist.” (n.d.). ECO Canada. Retrieved February 24, 2017.

• Science & Engineering Careers: “Environmental Engineering Technician.” (n.d.). Science Buddies. Retrieved February 24, 2017.

• Job Profiles for Immigrants: “Civil Engineering Technologist.” (n.d.). Government of British Columbia - Welcome B.C.. Retrieved February 24, 2017.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to this profession. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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