Although environmental engineering technicians do not necessarily need an associate’s degree, employers prefer candidates who have one.
Prospective engineering technicians should take as many high school science and math courses as possible to prepare for programs in engineering technology after high school.
Environmental engineering technicians typically have an associate’s degree in environmental engineering technology or engineering technology. Vocational–technical schools include postsecondary public institutions that serve local students and emphasize training needed by local employers. Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework. Associate’s degree programs generally include courses in mathematics, chemistry, solid and hazardous waste, and environmental biology, among others.
Programs are accredited by ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). Some environmental engineering technicians enter the occupation with a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences, such as biology and chemistry.
Listening skills. Environmental engineering technicians must be able to listen carefully to the instructions that the engineers give them.
Monitoring skills. Environmental engineering technicians are the eyes and ears of the environmental engineers and must assume responsibility for properly evaluating situations onsite.
Problem sensitivity. These technicians must be able to recognize problems so that the environmental engineers are informed as quickly as possible.
Reading-comprehension skills. Environmental engineering technicians must be able to read and understand legal and technical documents to ensure that regulatory requirements are being met.
Teamwork. Environmental engineering technicians work under engineers and as part of a team with other technicians. They must be able to communicate and work well with both supervisors and peers.
Environmental engineering technicians usually begin work as trainees in entry-level positions supervised by an environmental engineer or a more experienced technician. As they gain experience, technicians take on more responsibility and carry out assignments under general supervision. Some eventually become supervisors.
Technicians who have a bachelor’s degree often are able to advance to engineering positions.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition