Getting a job as a hazmat professional means working with dangerous materials on a regular basis. Hazmat workers specialize in the proper storage, removal and disposal of hazardous materials including lead, asbestos, arsenic, radioactive and nuclear waste and other hazardous materials. These workers also identify and safely remove materials that are flammable or toxic. You can set yourself apart from other job candidates by obtaining an associate's degree and certification in the field.
Desired Qualities in a Hazmat Worker
Due to the very nature of hazmat work, job seekers need certain qualities to ensure a long and safe career. Candidates should be detail oriented and able to adhere to hazmat safety procedures. Improperly noting the type of material stored in a container can be dangerous to fellow workers and the community. Candidates must also sharpen their decision making skills before pursing a hazmat career. Hazmat workers must make life-altering decisions such as whether to evacuate a community due to the accidental release of toxic chemicals.
Education Requirements for a Hazmat Job
A high school diploma is required to be considered for a job in the hazmat field, however, many employers prefer an associate’s degree in a hazmat-related field such as occupational safety and health, hazardous waste management or hazardous materials technology. Completing an associate's degree program gives hazmat job seekers an edge over the competition. Those with a degree can pursue hazmat career options such as hazardous materials removal worker, lead or asbestos abatement worker and treatment and storage worker.
Required Licensing for Hazmat Job Seekers
Some states have licensing requirements, particularly for mold remediation and asbestos and lead removal. License requirements differ from state to state, but generally require candidates to have completed training by a state or federal agency such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and must pass a written exam.
Hazmat Career Training
Training for a hazmat career typically includes a combination of classroom learning and experiential education. This training is generally provided by employers and is a requirement for the job. Classroom training includes courses on safety procedures and equipment. The supervised field work focuses on working with and safely disposing chemicals and hazardous materials. In addition to this training, hazmat job candidates are required to complete at least 40 hours of Occupational Safety and Health Administration training, which addresses health hazards, personal protective equipment use, site safety, recognizing hazards and decontamination.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Occupational Outlook Handbook - Hazardous Materials Removal Workers
- Columbia Southern University: Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Safety & Health
- U.S. Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration -Training Requirements in OSHA Standards and Training Guidelines
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Waste, Chemical and Cleanup Enforcement
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