Career Corner: Hazmat Worker

Does the idea of working in a cubicle everyday dishearten you? Are you looking to enter an adventurous, ever-changing field? A career as a hazmat worker might be for you.

As a hazardous materials removal worker (hazmat worker), one must act in accordance with the stated safety procedures or federal laws regulating waste disposal methods. Hazmat workers carry out a plethora of responsibilities, such as cleaning contaminated equipment and areas for re-use, and identifying lead and other hazardous materials to be removed. They also operate machines and equipment to remove, package, store, or transport waste materials. The average salary of a hazmat worker in our area is around $50,000 a year, higher than the national average of $40,000.

The process of becoming a hazmat worker is as follows. No degree further than a high school diploma is required. Hazmat workers typically learn on the job. A minimum of 40 hours of mandatory Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training are required in order to obtain the license necessary to become a hazmat worker. In addition, workers are required to take a series of courses involving regulations about nuclear materials and radiation safety as directed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

However, the job does have a dangerous aspect. In an effort to reduce exposure to harmful materials, workers often wear coveralls, gloves, shoe covers, and goggles. When dealing with extremely toxic environments, hazmat workers must wear respirators to protect themselves from harmful gases. Not all are cut out for these circumstances; thus, certain characteristics are better suited for this career path. For example, those who listen well, demonstrate teamwork, show success in math, are detail-oriented, and have a strong sense of stamina would excel at this career.

The job outlook for this profession is predicted to grow 23% from now until 2020, faster than the average for all other careers. If this interests you, consider taking on the occupation of a hazmat worker!

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