SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

Occupational Certificate: Environmental Science Technician 
99508  Occupational Certificate: Environmental Science Technician 
Development Quality Partner - LG SETA (Social) 
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
Occupational Certificate  Field 07 - Human and Social Studies  Environmental Relations 
Undefined  467  Not Applicable  NQF Level 06  Regular-ELOAC 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Reregistered" 
SAQA 06120/18  2018-07-01  2023-06-30 
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of this qualification is to prepare a learner to operate as an Environmental Science Technician.

An Environmental Science Technician assesses and controls operational aspects in compliance to applicable Environmental Regulatory Framework.

A qualified learner will be able to:
  • Conduct tests to assess environmental impact.
  • Monitor anthropogenic activities (anthropogenic refers to industrial, agricultural, construction, etc.) to determine compliance.
  • Conduct an environmental risk assessment to minimise/control risks within a specific occupational setting.
  • Coordinate the maintenance of monitoring and assessment equipment.
  • Consolidate and compile a technical report in accordance with specific occupational settings.
  • Apply ethical principles as an environmental science technician.

    The South African government has recognised the inadequate management of pollution as a significant environmental and public health risk. The Environmental Human Capital Sector skills plan 2009-2014 identified the lack of specialist technical skills in key areas which has impacted the local government negatively. Data shows that the Local Government sectors are severely under-staffed which has led to the current challenges in service delivery. It is envisaged that an environmental related skill and national initiative is needed to renew and strengthen these skills urgently in various sectors. Environmental Science and Engineering Technicians have been listed as one of the absolute scarce skills.

    The situation has led the stakeholders in the industry to call for the development of a nationally recognised occupational qualification that will ensure the availability of a skilled workforce for sustainability and improved service delivery.

    There are no formal qualifications for Environmental Science Technicians in South Africa. Aspects of the Environmental Science Technician are reduced to components of other programmes such as Engineering, Environmental Health or Environmental Management. This qualification will professionalise and address the current situation or need.

    This Environmental Science Technician qualification will specifically focus on waste management, air quality and natural resources management practices, and will therefore provide a much needed focus in the following areas:
  • Entrepreneurship in Recycling-Reduce-Re-Use-Recovery.
  • Waste Transportation route design.
  • Waste in the Green Economy.
  • Local Government and Air Pollution.
  • Bio-Diversity and Conservation.
  • Application of the Environmental Regulatory Framework.

    This qualification is for new entrants from schools, unemployed individuals and employees who are currently employed within the Environmental related sectors and wishing to formalise their experience. Learners who undertake this programme will receive training in Environmental Sciences, while focusing on developing an understanding of the physical, chemical, mathematical, biological and social dimensions of environmental problems and issues. The qualification is structured in such a way that it allows for specialisation in Waste, Air and Natural Resources Conservation. Upon completion, learners could possibly be employed as Environmental Science Technician in National, Provincial and Local Government, private sector or alternatively start their own businesses as eco-entrepreneurs.

    This qualification will build the much needed capacity and enhance the skills of the environmental sector to innovatively respond to the developmental and environmental need of South Africa. This in-turn will improve service delivery and address the current environmental/national resource conversation issues thereby contributing sustainably towards socio-economic sensitive enterprises and green economies.

    Upon completion learners can progress towards becoming an Environmental Scientist and/or professional. 

    Entry Requirements:
  • NQF Level 4 with science related subjects or Environmental Practice with 2 years' work experience.

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
    RPL for access to the external integrated summative assessment:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces must apply the internal assessment criteria specified in the related curriculum document to establish and confirm prior learning. Accredited providers and workplaces must confirm prior learning by issuing a statement of result or certifying a work experience record.

    RPL for access to the qualification:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces may recognise prior learning against the relevant access requirements. 


    This qualification is made up of the following compulsory Knowledge and Practical Skill Modules:
    Knowledge Modules:
  • 314102000-KM-01, Environmental Regulatory Framework, Level 05, 17 Credits.
  • 314102000-KM-02, Environmental Pollution, Level 05, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-KM-03, Environmental Ethics, Level 05, 7 Credits.
  • 314102000-KM-04, Environmental monitoring and assessment, Level 06, 14Credits.
  • 314102000-KM-05, Environmental Communication and reporting, Level 05, 15 Credits.
  • 314102000-KM-06, Sustainable Integrated Waste Management, Level 06, 24 Credits.
  • 314102000-KM-07, Air Quality Monitoring and Control, Level 06, 29 Credits.
  • 314102000-KM-08, Natural Resource Conservation, Level 06, 23 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Knowledge Modules: 134.

    Practical Skill Modules:
  • 314102000-PM-01, Apply standard operating procedures for taking samples, Level 05, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-02, Measure air pollution, Level 06, 10 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-03, Apply standards and legal codes to monitor compliance, Level 05, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-04, Apply sustainable waste management practices to minimise the impact of anthropogenic activities on the environment, Level 06, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-05, Apply Waste Management Regulatory Framework to ensure compliance, Level 05, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-06, Implement the waste management hierarchy, Level 06, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-07, Monitor anthropogenic activities for potential emission sources, Level 05, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-08, Implement the air quality regulatory framework, Level 05, 10 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-09, Evaluate and apply risk control measures to minimise risks, Level 06, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-10, Control/Minimise/prevent/mitigate the impact of environmental risks, Level 06, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-11, Maintain working conditions of monitoring and assessment equipment to ensure serviceability, Level 05, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-12, Consolidate and compile a concise technical report in accordance with specific occupational settings, Level 06, 8 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-13, Uphold the principles of ethical conduct and behaviour, Level 05, 5 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-14, Assess the status of ecosystem, Level 06, 10 Credits.
  • 314102000-PM-15, Monitor and analyse overexploitation, habitat destruction and possible loss of bio-diversity, Level 06, 10 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Practical Skill Modules: 98.

    This qualification also requires the following Work Experience Modules:
  • 314102000-WM-01, Application of standard operating procedures, Level 05, 6 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-02, Sampling processes, Level 05, 16 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-03, Assessment of the status of the eco-system, Level 06, 16 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-04, Compliance monitoring, Level 05, 32 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-05, Application of innovative sustainable waste management practices, Level 06, 32 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-06, Application of the waste management regulatory framework, Level 06, 4 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-07, Implementation of the waste management hierarchy, Level 05, 4 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-08, Compliance monitoring to establish emissions' inventory, Level 06, 32 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-09, Application of the air quality regulatory framework, Level 05, 4 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-10, Monitoring and analysis of the exploitation of biota and destruction of habitat, Level 06, 32 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-11, Risk control measures, Level 06, 32 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-12, Maintenance of monitoring and assessment equipment, Level 05, 4 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-13, Compilation of a technical report, Level 06, 16 Credits.
  • 314102000-WM-14, Principles of ethical conduct and behaviour, Level 05, 5 Credits.
    Total number of credits for Work Experience Modules: 235. 

    1. Analyse and execute environmental management functions in accordance with the regulatory framework to remedy the negative impact of human activity and to recommend measures for improvements.
    2. Analyse and evaluate the impact of waste on human health and the environment to perform the waste management functions in accordance with the regulatory framework to prevent pollution.
    3. Analyse and execute air quality management functions in accordance with the regulatory framework to protect and improve air quality.
    4. Analyse and assess conservation scientific and technical principles of natural resources and ecological balance in order to maintain sustainability and quality of life. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Standard operating procedures for taking samples are applied.
  • Risk control measures to minimise risks are evaluated and applied.
  • The impact of environmental risks is prevented, minimised, mitigated and controlled.
  • Standards and legal codes to monitor compliance are applied.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • The waste management regulatory framework is applied to ensure compliance.
  • The waste management hierarchy (waste management hierarchy is a nationally and internationally accepted guide for prioritising waste management practices with the objective of achieving optimal environmental outcomes) is implemented.
  • The waste management regulations are implemented.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Air pollution is measured.
  • The air quality regulations are implemented.
  • Anthropogenic activities for potential emission sources are assessed.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 4:
  • The status of the ecosystem is assessed.
  • Overexploitation, habitat destruction and possible loss of bio-diversity are analysed.
  • Related conservation regulations are implemented.

    Integrated Assessment:
    Integrated Formative Assessment:
    The skills development provider will use the curriculum to guide them on the stipulated internal assessment criteria and weighting. They will also apply the scope of practical skills and applied knowledge as stipulated by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment leads to entrance into the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated Summative Assessment:
    An external integrated summative assessment, conducted through the relevant Quality Council Trade and Occupation Assessment Quality Partner is required for the issuing of this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment will focus on the Exit Level Outcomes and Associated Assessment Criteria. 

    The Environmental Science Technician is an 'interdisciplinary field of study that can lead to a variety of careers' in various institutions. An international comparability study indicated that Australia, Canada and the United States of America are some of the few countries which have a formal qualification specifically designed for the occupation Environmental Science Technician.

    In Australia the Diploma of Environmental Monitoring and Technology offered by Central Institute of Technology, Perth provides learners with a comprehensive skill base of environmental science, in which they learn about specific environmental procedures, systems and issues. The qualification equips the learners with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct environmental sampling, testing and monitoring in most industry sectors.

    Entry requirements in Australia:
    Learners with an Australian year 12, Certificate three or higher, or a Degree in this or related qualifications or its equivalent. These entry requirements are similar to South African Grade 12, Technical and Vocational Education Training qualifications.

    The Australian qualification's duration is 18 months fulltime and the modules are listed:
  • Implement environmental management plans and procedures.
  • Apply an understanding of environmental principles to a site.
  • Process and present environmental data.
  • Collect spatial and discrete environmental data.
  • Recognise common geological landforms and samples.
  • Participate in laboratory/field workplace safety.
  • Collect routine site samples.
  • Perform basic tests.

    Implement and monitor environmentally sustainable work practices:
  • Assist with assessing site environmental indicators.
  • Assess the environmental risk or impact of a project activity or process.
  • Perform sampling and testing of soils.
  • Undertake environmental field-based monitoring.
  • Report environmental data.
  • Provide environmental information to customers.
  • Produce site maps.
  • Assist with assessing and monitoring wetlands.
  • Perform sampling and testing of contaminated sites.
  • Plan and conduct environmental project work.

    In Canada the Environmental Technician Diploma offered by Sheridan College, Ontario provides learners with the most sophisticated, up-to-date methods - the same procedures used in environmental science research and required by environmental laboratories, consulting firms and regulatory agencies. Learners explore the many facets of environmental science including ecology, climate change and greenhouse gases, air pollution control technology, sustainability, terrestrial and aquatic based ecosystems, population growth, sampling and analysis, water resources, water conservation and water treatment, federal, provincial and municipal environmental regulations and guidelines, and occupational opportunities in the environmental industry sector.

    Entry Requirements:
    Canadian Secondary School Diploma or equivalent, including required courses; English plus chemistry grade 11 or Grade 12 Mathematics for College Technology, or Mature student status. This is similar to the South African Grade 12 and Technical and Vocational Education Training qualifications respectively.

    The Canadian qualification's duration is 2 years fulltime and the modules listed below are covered:
  • Environmental Science.
  • Laboratory techniques.
  • Solid Waste treatment.
  • Environmental regulations.
  • Air pollution chemistry.

    United States of America (USA): In the USA the Environmental Science Technology is offered as an Associate Science Degree at the St. Petersburg College, Florida. Associate Science Degree in Environmental Science Technology prepares learners for a career as an Environmental Technician, who supports a sustainable environment through monitoring, investigating and preventing pollution. Opportunities for Environmental Science Technicians exist in private consulting firms, state and local government, water and wastewater treatment plants and the utilities, manufacturing and renewable energy industries.

    The USA qualification's duration is 2 years fulltime and the modules listed below are covered:
  • Technical Writing.
  • Earth Science.
  • Environmental Sampling and Analysis.
  • Introduction to - Geographic Information Systems.
  • Special Topics in - Environmental Science.
  • Introduction to - Environmental Science.
  • Natural Resources Conservation and Management.
  • Environmental Regulation.
  • Co-op Work Experience.
  • Credits: 64 Credits transferable to the Bachelors of Applied Science in Sustainability Management.

    Similarities between the South African Environmental Science Technician occupational qualification and the international Environmental Science related occupational qualifications have been noted in the contents covered in these qualifications.

    Similarities have also been found with the purpose or description of the occupation among the qualifications. It has also been noted that learners learn both theory and practical skills in an integrated manner. Other similarities include entry requirements which makes provision for school leavers, unemployed, employed, and Recognition of Prior Learning. After completion learners may find employment in similar sectors.

    Whereas differences have been found with the design or packaging of the qualifications in the countries whose qualifications have been compared to the South African occupational qualification visited. The South African occupational qualification is designed such that it has the three areas of specialisation, i.e. Air Quality, Waste Management and Nature Conservation (natural resources conservation) in one qualification, each been a part qualification whilst in the other countries, each of the part qualifications has been developed as a stand-alone qualification.

    The major differences are that in the South African Environmental Science Technician qualification the:
  • Modules are more in-depth with emphasis on the environmental and socio-economic issues South Africa faces i.e. waste, air and conservation.
  • Structure is such that the curriculum comprises three components (knowledge, practical and work experience modules) with a compulsory final national summative assessment.
  • Learners are only permitted to sit for the final summative assessment after the successful completion of the above components.
  • Modules include professional ethics which instil a culture of ethical and professional behaviour. 

    This qualification articulates horizontally to:
  • National Diploma in Environmental Management, Level 6 (ID 86008).
  • Advanced Certificate in Nature Conservation Trans-Frontier Conservation Management, Level 6 (ID 82006).
  • Diploma in Nature Conservation, Level 6 (ID 90512).

    This qualification articulates vertically to:
  • Bachelor of Technology in Environmental Management, Level 7 (ID 72399).
  • Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences, Level 7 (ID 87270).
  • Bachelor of Environmental Sciences in Geography, Level 7 (ID 16155).
  • Advanced Diploma in Nature Conservation, Level 7 (ID 93617).
  • Bachelor of Technology in Nature Conservation, Level 7 (ID 62337). 



    Qualifying for external assessment:
  • In order to qualify for the external summative assessment learners must have a copy of a completed and signed Statement of Work Experience as well as proof of successful completion of the following subjects and modules or alternative programmes where applicable.

    Foundational learning competence is not pre-requisite for the awarding of this qualification.

    Additional legal or physical entry requirements:
  • There are no additional legal or physical entry requirements.

    Criteria for the accreditation of providers:
  • Accreditation of providers will be done against the criteria as reflected in the relevant curriculum on the QCTO website.
  • The curriculum title and code is: Environmental Science Technician: 314102000.

    This qualification encompasses the following trades as recorded on the NLRD:
  • None. 


    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.