Career Profile: Hazardous Materials...

Career Profile: Hazardous Materials Worker

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

The world is full of dangerous materials. Chemical spills, asbestos in older buildings, waste from nuclear reactors, and other dangerous substances can harm people, animals, and the environment. A hazardous materials worker can help make things safer for everyone.

Working as a hazardous materials worker is not an easy job, but it is very important. Otherwise, people would get sick from the toxic chemicals around them, and they might not be able to grow food or have any water to drink. People who work at removing hazardous materials need to learn how to deal with all different kinds of materials in water or on land. Usually this requires a high school education and a certificate in waste disposal.

An important skill that people in this field need to have is the ability to be able to calculate how much they need of the cleaning chemicals to clear up the problem. A basic background in mathematics is usually necessary, and some people might require more than that.

People can learn a lot about being a hazardous materials worker on the job, but usually special training and certification are necessary. Most trade schools would have information on where people can go to get the training they need. An apprenticeship can give hazardous materials workers the background and training they need to get jobs in their field.

For many people, a background in construction is also helpful, since that way they learn where to look for dangerous materials and how to get rid of them. They need to know how to deal with the different types, such as oil, radioactive waste, and even lead paint. Besides all of that, hazardous materials workers need to be calm in emergencies. They need to be good at working with their hands and they should be physically strong.

Experience is very helpful in this field. At the beginning, workers in this field might earn about $12 per hour, but they can quickly increase their salaries if they know their work well. After ten years, workers can often earn over $50,000 per year, and after twenty years, they might earn close to $80,000. If the workers know how to drive trucks and use special earth-moving equipment, those skills can also help them get good jobs.

Working in this field usually requires going to where the problem is rather than staying in one place. Hazardous materials workers might have an office where they keep records of the work that they have done, but they might need to travel to remote areas to do their work. Oil spills, for example, happen mainly in the oceans, and workers might have to travel far to get to where the work needs to be done. Sometimes, however, workers can find enough work to do with cleaning up lead paint or asbestos close to home.

Being a hazardous materials worker is not for everyone, but it can be a fulfilling job for people who enjoy excitement and feel good about cleaning up messes. If that describes you, why not consider getting into this very useful kind of work?


Apprentice Search.com. “Hazardous Materials Worker.” http://www.apprenticesearch.com/AboutTrades/GetTradeDetails?tradeId=250&TradeName=hazardous-materials-worker.

My Plan.com. “Hazardous Materials Removal Workers.” http://www.myplan.com/careers/hazardous-materials-removal-workers/description-47-4041.00.html

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. “Hazardous Materials Worker.” http://oyap.com/trades/?fuseaction=Profile&appnum=157

Payscale.com. “Hazmat Technician.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Certification=Certified_DOT_HAZMAT_Technician_.

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