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Environmental Engineering Technicians

At a Glance

  • Perform environmental quality work
  • May help clean up hazardous materials spills
  • Work both indoors and outdoors
  • May work overtime to meet deadlines
  • Usually have a two-year degree

Career summary

Environmental engineering technicians work with environmental engineers and scientists. They help prevent, control, and clean up pollution.

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Technicians follow plans developed by environmental engineers. Sometimes they work in the field collecting soil, air and water samples. Other times they work in laboratories preparing samples. They conduct tests and keep detailed records of results and observations

Technicians often inspect facilities to make sure state and federal environmental laws are being followed.

Environmental engineering technicians may work with contractors to dispose of the toxic waste in a safe way. They inspect work sites, collect samples, and complete paperwork. They also set up special equipment and sometimes must decontaminate the equipment after it is used.

Some environmental engineering technicians help to locate polluted areas. They determine the type and source of the pollution. They may take photos to document their findings. Once they find the source of the pollution, technicians consult with engineers to decide how to clean it up. They help determine the right technology to clean up an area. Sometimes, they may assist an engineer in creating tools to clean up pollution.

Technicians operate, maintain, clean, and repair tools. If needed, they order supplies and lab equipment. They also prepare samples for shipping.

As environmental engineering technicians gain experience, they can assist on larger and more important projects. They can also oversee other technicians on large-scale projects.

Related careers

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to environmental engineering technicians.

Common work activities

Environmental engineering technicians perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, environmental engineering technicians:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Environmental engineering technicians frequently:

It is important for environmental engineering technicians to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for environmental engineering technicians to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Environmental engineering technicians need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an environmental engineering technician, you typically need to:

Education after high school

You typically need an associate degree to become an environmental engineering technician. Many schools offer two-year programs in environmental engineering technology. As an undergraduate student you study chemistry, microbiology, and environmental science. Take technical, and oral and interpersonal communication courses to learn how to interpret technical materials and keep scientific report records. English courses are helpful for writing research and safety reports. Algebra and statistics courses can help you solve mathematical problems.

Many vocational schools offer engineering technology programs. However, the kind and quality of these programs varies greatly. Carefully select your program. Check with employers to see which schools they prefer. In addition, ask the schools for the names of employers where they have placed graduates. Make sure the school has the type of training you want, up-to-date equipment, and qualified instructors. In addition, make sure the school's program offers courses related to your engineering specialty.

Training programs approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) meet standards set by the industry. Graduating from an ABET accredited program can give you an advantage with employers.

Pre-engineering programs are not the same as technology programs. Pre-engineering programs stress classroom theory. In contrast, engineering technology programs stress hands-on training.

Work experience

Working in jobs that give you practical experience in environmental engineering technology is good background for this occupation.

Many engineering companies have their own testing labs. They often need extra help during the summer when construction activities are at a peak. Getting a summer job at an "in house" laboratory is a good way to gain experience and make contacts.

On-the-job training

As a new technician, you perform routine tasks while closely supervised by an experienced technician or engineer. As you gain experience, you work on tasks that are more difficult. Training may last up to a year.

Employers usually provide training for employees working with and around environmental contaminants. Many states require environmental workers to be certified. Certification courses usually take place during a 40-hour training week. You learn about chemical exposure risks and ways to prevent injuries. You may also receive first aid training.

Some environmental engineering technicians may also receive additional training in the use of special equipment.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link). Engineering technicians need a strong background in math and science. Try to take science through Physics and math through Trigonometry.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers look for environmental engineering technicians who have a two-year degree in environmental engineering technology. However, it is becoming more common for employers to require applicants with a bachelor's degree in this field. Employers usually require applicants to be certified.

Employers look for applicants who can assist with design and project planning work. Good communication skills are important because technicians work with engineers and other team members. An interest in math and science is critical.


Most states require environmental engineering technicians be registered as engineering interns or work under the supervision of a professional engineer. Some states also require environmental workers to have a hazardous worker certification. Requirements vary by state.


Environmental engineering technicians (SOC 17-3025)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $17.59 $23.12 $35.33 $44.60 $48.63
Monthly $3,048 $4,007 $6,123 $7,729 $8,428
Yearly $36,590 $48,080 $73,490 $92,770 $101,150
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $18.57 $26.05 $41.17 $46.72 $50.04
Monthly $3,218 $4,514 $7,135 $8,097 $8,672
Yearly $38,616 $54,179 $85,640 $97,166 $104,068
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $15.66 $18.53 $23.36 $28.44 $32.83
Monthly $2,714 $3,211 $4,048 $4,929 $5,689
Yearly $32,564 $38,543 $48,595 $59,150 $68,287
    Vancouver Hourly $15.98 $20.90 $30.70 $36.76 $42.21
Monthly $2,769 $3,622 $5,320 $6,371 $7,315
Yearly $33,237 $43,464 $63,842 $76,454 $87,795
United States Hourly $15.57 $18.52 $24.31 $31.47 $39.81
Monthly $2,698 $3,210 $4,213 $5,454 $6,899
Yearly $32,380 $38,510 $50,560 $65,460 $82,800

Pay varies with the worker's level of education, responsibility, and experience. Pay also varies by employer and area of the country. Those who have supervisory duties usually earn higher wages.

Full-time technicians generally receive benefits. Typical benefits are health insurance, a retirement plan, sick leave, and paid vacation. Some companies provide money for continuing education classes.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Environmental Engineering Technicians (SOC 17-3025)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 482 12.7% 16.1% 55
    Benton and Franklin Counties 15 60.0% 15.0% 3
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 46 0.0% 11.9% 4
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 16 6.3% 15.2% 2
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 22 18.2% 14.1% 3
    King County 171 25.7% 19.6% 25
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 10 20.0% 13.8% 1
    Pierce County 15 6.7% 15.2% 1
    Snohomish County 147 0.0% 12.4% 12
    Spokane County 15 6.7% 13.9% 1
United States 17,900 8.9% 5.2% 2,000

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

The outlook for environmental engineering technicians is strong. More environmental engineering technicians will be needed to comply with environmental regulations and to develop methods of cleaning up existing hazards. There is funding to clean up contaminated sites. Demand is also increased due to concern about chemicals entering the water system during drilling for shale gas.

However, this is a very small occupation and very few new jobs will be created.

Other resources

Air and Waste Management Association (external link)
Koppers Building
436 Seventh Avenue, Suite 2100
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (external link)
147 Old Solomons Island Road, Suite 303
Annapolis, MD 21401
American Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) (external link)
(This website provides a list of engineering-related programs accredited by ABET)
415 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
American Chemical Society (external link)
1155 Sixteenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (external link)
1800 M Street, NW Suite 900 North
Washington, DC 20036
American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians (external link)
15621 West 87th Street, Parkway #205
Lenexa, KS 66219
American Water Works Association (external link)
6666 West Quincy Avenue
Denver, CO 80235
Discover Engineering (external link)
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
Environmental Career Center (external link)
P.O. Box 3387
Hampton, Virginia 23663
Environmental Technology Council (external link)
1112 - 16th Street, Suite 420
Washington, DC 20036
National Academy of Engineering (external link)
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (external link)
Profiles in Ocean Careers (external link)
Society for Ecological Restoration (external link)
1133 15th St. NW, Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20005
Society of Women Engineers (external link)
130 East Randolph Street, Suite 3500
Chicago, IL 60601
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
United States Environmental Protection Agency (external link)
Washington Business Week (external link)
PO Box 1170
Renton, WA 98057
Water Environment Federation (external link)
601 Wythe Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster