Career Profile: HAZARDOUS MATERIAL REMOVAL WORKER
In school, you have likely heard all about WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) from your high school science class or while training for your first part-time job. It is an important part of any career that involves chemicals (which many jobs do since cleaning products and solutions tend to have many different chemicals in them), but it is especially important to the hazardous material removal worker. If you find chemistry interesting and believe that safety procedures surrounding toxic materials are important, then perhaps you should consider a career as a hazardous material removal worker.
A HAZMAT (Hazardous Material) removal worker is tasked with observing safety procedures around the workplace, (especially as they relate to chemicals on the worksite), test cleaning procedures and determine the most effective way of cleaning certain chemical solutions, clean and neutralize chemical spills on the work site, set up a caution area around a spill or hazardous material removal area which usually involves scaffolding and caution signs, washing contaminated equipment used in the waste removal procedure, record cleaning activities on the site as well as transporting hazardous materials as safely as possible.
What are the perks of the job?
This career has a few benefits, starting from the median salary. In Canada, the average annual salary for the hazardous material removal worker stood around $50,770 (according to job board site Neuvoo), which is well above the national median salary of $32,970, reported by the same source. According to the career info site Payscale, there are other job titles within the hazardous material removal that make even more, like an operations manager (median salary being $62,279), operations manager ($63,000), and project manager ($82, 424). These jobs that have improved salaries show the room to grow within the industry. This career can also be very attractive to people who are passionate about caring for the environment and who have a strong sense of leadership and can rally a team together. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth in North America is 17% between 2016 and 2026 – a growth that is much faster than average.
What are some of the setbacks?
The biggest set back to this job is that it can be dangerous to work with hazardous materials all day, which is why a lot of protective gear is required. When safety protocols are observed, then the risk goes down significantly, though some workers have reported illnesses after years of working in industrial environments. The education level and training is also much more strenuous than the average job, requiring a bachelor’s degree and at least 40 hours of on-site training in accordance to the Occupational Health and Safety Health Administration (OSHA). An apprenticeship program is also required for most jobs in this industry.
How can I grow with this career?
There are a few different job titles associated with this industry, like asbestos removal, project managers related to hazardous materials removal, hazardous materials supervisors, operations managers, waste disposal removal (median salary of $42,840), waste management services ($40,610), and construction ($30,950).
That’s all great, but could I be hired for other careers?
Aside from the amount of jobs and careers that are available in the hazardous materials removal industry, the knowledge in chemistry and workplace safety procedures required in these careers can prime the HAZMAT worker for other careers. Any career involving environmental sustainability and cleaning (with a bit more schooling in the relevant field), construction trades, firefighters (in that they use chemical products like fire extinguishers to remove fire-based hazards and often come into contact with chemicals), insulation workers, etc.
College Grad. “Hazardous Materials Removal Workers”:
College of Trades. “Construction Sector: Hazardous Materials Worker”
Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Hazardous Materials Removal Workers”:
PayScale. “Average Salary for Industry: Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal”:
Nuevoo. “Hazardous Waste salary in Canada”