What Does an Environmental Field Technician Do?
It’s unusual for a job to combine time in the field with time in the laboratory, but this one does. Environmental field technicians — also known as environmental science and protection technicians — monitor the environment for pollution. They take samples of air, soil and water and conduct field and laboratory tests. If those samples include contaminants, they help determine and monitor the source of contamination.
These technicians often work alongside scientists and engineers to investigate environmental problems or to comply with environmental regulations. They also may respond to emergencies that may impact human health. They primarily work for local governments and consulting firms for a wide variety of industries.
- Collect samples to assess pollution of air, water and soil
- Set up instruments for data collection
- Monitor pollutants from specific sites, such as a smoke stack or runoff from a stream
- Follow safety regulations
- Operate equipment such as pumps, vacuums, booms and generators
- Prepare reports and keep records
- Discuss testing results
This job typically requires two years of specialized training or an associate degree, but education requirements may vary. Some positions don’t require as much post-secondary training while others require a bachelor’s degree. Technical schools and community colleges offer programs in environmental health, public health or a related field. In some states, environmental field technicians may need a license. Certifications are required for technicians who work with hazardous waste or radon.
- Work well in a team
- Have excellent observation skills
- Like to identify problems and come up with solutions
- Are able to think critically and logically
- Strong interest in the natural sciences such as biology and chemistry