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Earth science technician

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Summary of occupation

Earth science technicians assist geologists, geophysicists and engineers by collecting and testing soil and water samples, recording observations and analysing data. They look after practical tasks involved in servicing remote field operations such as planning field work, arranging access to sites, and ordering and transporting supplies and equipment for field surveys. They may also be responsible for managing field camps and maintaining field equipment and vehicles.

In Western Australia, earth science technicians may work across a variety of fields such as mining, mineral exploration and energy resource exploration.

ANZSCO description: Collects and tests earth and water samples, records observations and analyses data in support of Geologists or Geophysicists.
Alternative names: Earth science technical officer, Field technician, Geological technician, Geoscience technician, Geotechnician, Pit technician
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

​An earth science technician needs:

  • to enjoy scientific activities and have an interest in rocks, fossils and minerals
  • good written and verbal communication skills
  • to have an accurate and methodical approach to work
  • to enjoy working outdoors
  • to follow safe work practices
  • to be able to work independently and as part of a team.
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Working conditions

​Earth science technicians work both in a laboratory environment and out in the field. They may work outdoors on drilling sites or take part in field surveys, which are sometimes conducted in remote locations throughout Western Australia. They may be required to live on site away from home or work on a fly-in, fly-out basis. They may also work shiftwork or evenings.

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Salary details

​On average, earth science technicians, classified under science technicians, can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the type of organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an earth science technician develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

​Earth science technicians use digital technology to create maps, and global positioning technology (GPS) to establish locations of ore or rock deposits. They use geographical information systems (GIS) software to measure geographical features and present findings. They may use a range of scientific equipment to perform geochemical sampling, seismic surveys and meteorological observations, and computers are used for all data processing.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​To become an earth science technician you usually need to complete a formal qualification in mining exploration, environmental monitoring and technology, laboratory techniques, laboratory technology or a related area.

The Certificate III in Mining Exploration, Certificate IV in Environmental Monitoring and Technology, Certificate IV in Laboratory Techniques, Diploma of Environmental Monitoring and Technology, and Diploma of Laboratory Technology are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can complete a traineeship. The laboratory assistant (water), technical assistant (environmental/biological) and technical assistant (mineral assay) traineeships usually take 24 months to complete.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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