Both environmental technologists and technicians require broad scientific knowledge and technical skills.
The difference between an environmental technologist and an environmental technician is that an environmental technologist typically has an engineering degree whereas an environmental technician has either a diploma or a certificate. In terms of organizational hierarchy, a technologist is usually placed above a technician.
Environmental technologists research, analyze, design, conduct studies, and resolve problems. Technicians are involved in the supporting duties including maintenance, design drafting and implementation, repairs, and troubleshooting.
Environmental technologists/technicians can be responsible for collecting and analyzing air, water, and soil samples; conducting field inspections and investigations of contamination; operating and monitoring pollution control or treatment equipment; monitoring compliance with federal and provincial regulations, or participating in environmental assessments and cleanup efforts.
Environmental technologists/technicians often work as part of a team of professionals and play a key role in conservation and protection efforts. They may also be tasked with penalizing or shutting down operations or organizations for violation of health or environmental regulations.
Without the efforts of environmental technologists/technicians, the work of other environmental workers may be stalled or never even put into action.
If, for example, an environmental scientist discovered an innovative way to combat water contamination in a rural area, an environmental technologist would take on more work including designing a filtration system, figuring out where to place it without disrupting ecosystems and animal habitats, and ensuring that as the project progresses, there is consideration for potential environmental impacts.
After the blueprint is set in place, an environmental technician would be brought in. The environmental technician’s role would be to install the filtration device, ensure that things are working as they should, and verify that it is serving its purpose to combat water contamination in a sustainable and efficient way.
The technician would also perform follow-up assessments, collect data, and draft feedback reports on the operations, to circulate back to the environmental scientist. This last step is very important as it is key to measuring the success of the project.
Environmental technologists/technicians produce tangible results that help bring the workforce closer to a more sustainable and efficient environment.