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What is an Environmental Restoration Planner?

Also known as: Environmental Restoration Project Manager, Environmental Restoration Project Planner.

An environmental restoration planner is someone who conducts laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution, including those affecting health. Many work under the supervision of environmental scientists and specialists, who direct their work and evaluate their results.

How to Become an Environmental Restoration Planner

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What does an Environmental Restoration Planner do?

Many environmental restoration planners often work on teams with scientists, engineers, and technicians in other fields to solve complex problems related to environmental degradation and public health. They may work on teams with geoscientists and hydrologists to manage the cleanup of contaminated soils and ground water. Most environmental restoration planners work either for state or local government or for private consulting firms. In local governments, environmental restoration planners enforce regulations that protect the environment and people’s health. They spend a lot of time inspecting businesses and public places and investigating complaints related to air quality, water quality, and food safety. They may issue fines or close establishments that violate environmental or health regulations.

Environmental restoration planners typically do the following:

  • Inspect establishments, including public places and businesses, to ensure that there are no environmental, health, or safety hazards
  • Set up and maintain equipment used to monitor pollution levels, such as remote sensors that measure emissions from smokestacks
  • Collect samples of air, soil, water, and other materials for laboratory analysis
  • Perform scientific tests to identify and measure levels of pollutants in samples
  • Prepare charts and reports that summarize test results
  • Discuss test results and analyses with clients

In private consulting firms, environmental restoration planners help clients monitor and manage the environment and comply with regulations. They help businesses develop cleanup plans for contaminated sites; they recommend ways to reduce, control, or eliminate pollution. In addition, environmental restoration planners conduct feasibility studies for, and monitor the environmental impact of, new construction projects.

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How to Become an Environmental Restoration Planner

Environmental restoration planners need an associate’s degree or comparable postsecondary training for most jobs. More experienced environmental restoration planners often train new technicians on the job. Most employers prefer applicants who have at least an associate’s degree, or two years of postsecondary training, in a natural science or science-related technology. However, some entry-level positions require a high school diploma.

Many technical and community colleges offer programs in environmental studies or a related technology, such as remote sensing or geographic information systems (GIS). Associate’s degree programs at community colleges are traditionally designed to provide easy transfer to bachelor’s degree programs at colleges and universities because a bachelor’s degree can be useful for future career advancement. Technical institutes usually offer technical training but provide less theory and general education than community colleges offer. A well-rounded background in natural sciences is important for environmental science technicians, so students should take courses in chemistry, biology, geology, and physics.

Most environmental restoration planners receive on-the-job training. The length of training varies with the new employee’s level of experience and education. Typically, experienced technicians teach new employees proper methods and procedures for conducting experiments, inspections, and other tasks. Technicians usually learn about relevant environmental and health regulations and standards as part of their training. Technicians who have a bachelor’s degree are often able to advance to environmental scientist positions.

What is the workplace of an Environmental Restoration Planner like?

Most environmental restoration planners work for professional, scientific, and technical services firms, or for state or local government. They work in laboratories, offices, and in the field. Fieldwork offers a variety of settings; a technician may investigate a chemical spill inside a manufacturing plant or spend time outdoors testing the water quality of lakes and rivers. In the field, technicians spend most of their time on their feet, which can be physically demanding. They may need to set up monitoring or testing equipment, which can involve some heavy lifting and frequent bending and crouching.

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