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Hazardous Materials Removal Workers - What They Do

Hazardous materials removal workers held about 42,500 jobs in 2008. About 79 percent were employed in waste management and remediation services. Another 5 percent were employed in construction.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to grow faster than average. Good job opportunities are expected because of the need to replace the large number of workers who leave the occupation each year.

Job Growth
Employment of hazardous materials removal workers is expected to grow 15 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. The need for decontamination technicians, radiation safety technicians, and decommissioning workers, in response to increased pressure for cleaner electric generation facilities, is expected to drive employment growth. Furthermore, renewed interest in nuclear power production could lead to the reactivation of additional facilities, resulting in the need for many new remediation workers.

Numerous Superfund projects will require cleanup of hazardous materials waste sites, also spurring demand for hazardous materials removal workers. However, employment growth will largely be determined by Federal funding.

Since the 1970s, asbestos and lead-based paints and plumbing fixtures and pipes have not been used and much of the remediation stemming from those products has taken place. With the continuing decline in the number of structures that contain asbestos and lead, demand for asbestos and lead abatement workers will be somewhat limited. Some demand, however, will result from the need to abate lead and asbestos from Federal and historic buildings.

In addition to job openings from employment growth, many openings are expected for hazardous materials removal workers because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation, leading to good opportunities. Job opportunities for radiation safety technicians and decontamination workers should be plentiful as a number of new workers will be needed to replace those who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. Additional openings may result for remediation workers if nuclear power is more widely adopted in the next decade.

Lead and asbestos workers will have some opportunities at specialty remediation companies as restoration of Federal buildings and historic structures continues, although at a slower pace than in the past. The best employment opportunities for mold remediation workers will be in Southeast, and parts of the Northeast and Northwest, where mold tends to thrive.

Many of these workers are not greatly affected by economic fluctuations because the facilities in which they work must operate, regardless of the state of the economy.

Median hourly wages of hazardous materials removal workers were $17.94 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.09 and $24.09 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.41 per hour, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $30.42 per hour. Median hourly wages in remediation and other waste management services, the largest industry employing hazardous materials removal workers, were $18.10.

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