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Jumpstarting Your Career As A Hazmat Technican

Environmental Articles

When you are starting a career in the construction industry and want to increase your marketability so you can make more money, there are certifications that you can earn to make your more attractive to employers. Learning how to handle hazardous materials properly is among the skills that will increase your employability.

Hazmat technicians work in a variety of settings including helping construction firms demolish buildings that contain asbestos, building scaffolding at hazardous waste sites and decontaminating buildings. If you want to pursue obtaining hazmat certification, the following guide outlines the requirements you need to meet and what hazmat certification programs entail:

Meet Basic Prerequisites

You do not need a college degree in order to become a hazmat technician. However, you need to have a high school diploma and be at least 18 years old.

In addition, if you want to increase your chances of success in a hazmat certification program, you should consider taking community college classes in math and environmental sciences. Some community colleges offer associates degrees in areas like radiation protection and environmental science.

Sign Up for a Hazmat Certificate Course

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific requirements for what type of workers need to undergo hazmat training, what they should learn, how long courses should run and class format. When you are researching training schools that offer hazmat certification classes, make sure that the program you sign up for meets federal requirements for hazmat training.

While it is possible for to earn your hazmat certification in just a few weeks, you can sign up for training programs that offer self-paced classes so you can complete your coursework at your own speed.

If you already have a few years of experience working in construction and apply for jobs as a hazmat technician, some companies will underwrite your certification classes as part of on-the-job training.

Your hazmat certification program will include a variety of topics such as:

  • Federal hazardous waste regulations
  • Toxicology basics
  • Safety, health and the use of chemical protective clothing
  • Identifying and containing hazardous materials
  • Containment and sampling tools
  • Emergency procedures
  • Federal hazmat communication standards

Licensing and Maintaining Your Certification

Once you complete your training you must pass an exam to obtain your hazmat certification. In addition, states may have additional requirements for hazmat technicians and what type of license you need for specific hazmat jobs.

Contact your local OSHA branch and your state's licensing board to find out the exact requirements you must meet to work legally as a hazmat technician.

If you are applying for jobs that include driving hazardous materials in a truck, you will also have to meet requirements for a commercial driver's license with a hazmat endorsement. Be aware that you cannot transport hazardous materials if you are not a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

You must keep your hazmat certification valid by completing a continuing education course at least once every three years. Some training programs offer online classes to help you fulfill this requirement.

Training for More Skilled Positions

If you want to significantly increase your earning potential and manage others, you should invest in programs that train you to coordinate hazardous waste projects or be the lead technician during emergency situations.

You can sign up for hazmat coordinator programs sponsored by state agencies or offered by technical training providers.

Additional training can also prepare you to be the lead liaison between your company and government agencies for hazmat compliance. This is helpful in state's that require firms that generate hazardous waste to have a full-time, on-site hazmat coordinator.

If you want to become a hazmat specialist, instead of taking general continuing education classes to keep your certification valid, seek out training schools that provide courses in advanced topics such as hazmat life support, emergency preparedness and industrial hygiene.

Regardless of what path you choose in your career, you should have no trouble finding work as the demand for workers that are qualified to handle hazardous waste continues to grow.


17 December 2015