Environmental Technician Skills: Definition and Examples
Updated 26 February 2023
Environmental technicians monitor a location and investigate sources of pollution and contamination. Their role typically involves assisting engineers and scientists and requires a wide range of technical and soft skills. Understanding these skills can be valuable if you're considering applying for this position. In this article, we define what environmental technician skills are, list examples, identify ways you can improve them and provide suggestions for using them in the workplace and highlighting them for employers.
What are environmental technician skills?
Environmental technician skills are a combination of hard and soft skills that help these employees do their jobs. Hard skills, which refer to specific technical abilities for performing work tasks, may include using specific laboratory equipment or analysing samples collected in the field. Soft skills involve communication, teamwork and observation.
Examples of environmental technician skills
Here are some examples of useful aptitudes for environmental technicians to have:
Environmental technicians benefit from having precise communication skills to present data clearly and logically. Listening attentively helps them follow scientists' instructions, which reduces errors that may invalidate data results. Writing with accuracy and clarity assists them in reporting their findings and developing recommendation plans for clients. For example, they may create a proposal for the best ways to control, reduce or eliminate hazards or pollution.
Many environmental technicians work as part of a team. When each person understands their role and responsibilities, they collaborate more effectively. This can help them identify issues and develop solutions more quickly, such as for addressing contamination or polluted areas.
Due to the data-centric nature of their work, environmental technicians frequently use their analytical abilities. Critical thinking allows them to utilise sound reasoning and judgement when evaluating information. This approach helps them form solid conclusions and develop effective approaches to address and overcome environmental hazards.
Environmental technicians often perform laboratory and field tests. Their results inform recommendations to keep communities safe from hazards. Using multiple data analysis tools and having excellent attention to detail can help ensure findings are accurate.
Environmental technicians utilise a range of technical skills to perform tasks, such as using different types of equipment, including microscopes, to analyse samples they collect in the field. They perform tests like those of biological or chemical technicians or microbiologists when tracking samples. Because their focus is on topics directly linked to the environment and its impact on human health, a thorough knowledge of environmental science is critical.
Managing hazardous waste is a common job responsibility for environmental technicians. Employers typically require them to understand safety protocols to protect themselves and others. In addition, many hiring managers require regulatory compliance knowledge and skills to inspect and maintain equipment that they may use in the field.
Maths and science
Having a strong understanding of maths and science helps environmental technicians do their jobs. This knowledge allows them to perform tests, review findings and assist with research. It's also useful in preparing technical reports and checking the validity of calculations that can impact research outcomes.
Environmental technicians may be responsible for developing clean-up plans for contaminated sites. Tasks can include performing an impact assessment and advising ways to eliminate pollution. Depending on the issue's severity and the urgency for recommendations, creative problem-solving can be a valuable skill.
As an environmental technician, you may work for local or state governments, inspecting public places or local businesses. Having a strong customer focus means considering your research's impact on the public. For example, you may be responsible for investigating community complaints relating to food safety, air quality or water quality.
Being adaptable to situations is a valuable quality for environmental technicians. Both responsibilities and working conditions can vary widely. Some technicians regularly work outdoors. For example, they test the water quality of rivers and lakes to identify pollution owing to runoff from landfills or cities. They may also be in dangerous situations, such as small spaces, to neutralise health risks or assess abandoned manufacturing buildings for potential hazards that can impact nearby communities.
How to improve your environmental technician skills
Here are some steps you can take to improve your abilities as an environmental technician:
1. Consider additional training
Some environmental technicians complete a bachelor's degree, typically in chemistry or biology, before beginning their careers, but others don't. If you don't have formal education, consider earning your degree part-time to gain new skills and knowledge. Various training courses are also available if you want to specialise in an area, including water resource management or soil ecology. Additional continuing education courses or workshops can provide training on current or emerging technologies to help you stay up to date.
2. Ask for feedback
Feedback from your manager, colleagues and clients tells you what you're doing well and what you can improve. You may request a formal evaluation system as part of your annual review process, discussing the results with your manager. To obtain a comprehensive assessment, request comments from people at different organisational levels and across business units.
3. Keep up to date with industry best practices
Researching best practices for the environmental science industry can improve your skills. For example, you may discover advanced data analysis software that revolutionises how you assess information or new research methods that speed up the evaluation. To stay up to date with the latest news, subscribe to online articles or industry blogs and network with other environmental technicians by joining a professional trade group.
Environmental technician skills in the workplace
As an environmental technician, you use various talents to perform your day-to-day job tasks. Here are some tips for developing them in the workplace:
Set goals. Setting clear career goals helps you prioritise your daily assignments so you can focus on the most impactful tasks. It can also show dedication to your job and the organisation, including identifying areas for improvement and ongoing professional development.
Give feedback. In addition to requesting feedback, you can also give evaluations to your manager and colleagues. Being open about areas you wish to improve in yourself and how you may provide guidance to others can create a culture where your team feels comfortable sharing ideas and learning from each other, which can help you improve your skills.
Find a mentor. Having a mentor is a valuable way to learn from an experienced technician who can help develop your abilities. For example, they can offer advice on dealing with negative public feedback to your recommendations or provide guidance on different research techniques.
How to highlight your environmental technician skills
Showing employers your abilities as an environmental technician can help you differentiate yourself from other candidates during a job search. Here are some ways to highlight your talents:
Environmental technical skills for a resume
When writing your resume, incorporate a mix of soft and hard skills, so a potential employer understands your capabilities. Include examples from a current or previous role. For example, use your work experience section to describe how critical thinking and analysis helped you solve a contamination issue You can also create a separate skills section to make it easy for a hiring manager to see if you've got the abilities they're seeking.
Environmental technical skills for a cover letter
Your cover letter's purpose is to complement your resume without replicating information. Include specific examples of using your skills that relate to the job description. Where possible, include data or numbers to support your achievements. For example, state that your recommended clean-up plan improved air quality by 50% over two months.
Environmental technical skills for a job interview
Being well-prepared for your interview can help you make a positive impression and may increase your chances of progressing to the next hiring stage. Before your meeting, rehearse some examples that showcase your experience. Check the job description and look for ways to mention the specific skills the organisation is seeking. As with your cover letter, focus on your work outcomes. For example, you may discuss how you introduced new protocols that significantly improved safety standards in the organisation you work for.
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