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Career and Education Opportunities for Hazardous Materials Handlers in Columbia, Missouri

Hazardous materials handlers can find many career and educational opportunities in the Columbia, Missouri area. There are currently 810 working hazardous materials handlers in Missouri; this should shrink by 5% to about 780 working hazardous materials handlers in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for hazardous materials handlers are expected to grow by about 14.8%. Hazardous materials handlers generally identify, remove, or dispose of hazardous materials, including asbestos, lead-based paint, waste oil, fuel, transmission fluid, radioactive materials, contaminated soil, etc.

Hazardous materials handlers earn about $24 per hour or $51,360 per year on average in Missouri and about $17 per hour or $37,310 annually on average nationally. Earnings for hazardous materials handlers are better than earnings in the general category of Waste Management in Missouri and better than general Waste Management category earnings nationally.

There are thirteen schools of higher education in the Columbia area, including one within twenty-five miles of Columbia where you can get a degree to start your career as a hazardous materials handler. The most common level of education for hazardous materials handlers is a high school diploma or GED. You can expect to spend only a short time studying to be a hazardous materials handler if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Hazardous Materials Handler

Hazardous Materials Handler video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, hazardous materials handlers identify, remove, or dispose of hazardous materials, including asbestos, lead-based paint, waste oil, fuel, transmission fluid, radioactive materials, contaminated soil, etc. They also specialized training and certification in hazardous materials handling or a confined entry permit are generally required.

Hazardous materials handlers follow prescribed safety procedures, and comply with federal laws regulating waste disposal methods. They also load and unload materials into containers and onto trucks, using hoists or forklifts. Equally important, hazardous materials handlers have to clean contaminated equipment or areas for re-use, using detergents and solvents and steam cleaners. Finally, hazardous materials handlers operate machines and apparatus to remove or transport loads of waste materials.

Every day, hazardous materials handlers are expected to be able to evaluate problems as they arise. They need to listen to and understand others in meetings. It is also important that they maintain precise control of objects and devices through a range of movements.

It is important for hazardous materials handlers to record numbers of containers stored at disposal sites, and specify amounts and types of equipment and waste disposed. They are often called upon to drive trucks or other heavy apparatus to convey contaminated waste to designated sea or ground locations. They also construct scaffolding or build containment areas before beginning abatement or decontamination work. They are sometimes expected to clear away asbestos and/or lead from surfaces, using hand and power tools such as scrapers and high-pressure sprayers. Somewhat less frequently, hazardous materials handlers are also expected to follow prescribed safety procedures, and comply with federal laws regulating waste disposal methods.

Hazardous materials handlers sometimes are asked to identify asbestos or other hazardous materials that need to be removed, using monitoring devices. and package and move irradiated fuel elements in the underwater storage basin of a nuclear reactor plant, using machines and equipment. And finally, they sometimes have to unload baskets of irradiated elements onto packaging machines that automatically insert fuel elements into canisters and secure lids.

Like many other jobs, hazardous materials handlers must be reliable and believe in cooperation and coordination.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Hazardous Materials Handler Training

Columbia Area Vocational Technical School - Columbia, MO

Columbia Area Vocational Technical School, 4203 S Providence Rd, Columbia, MO 65203-7199. Columbia Area Vocational Technical School is a small school located in Columbia, Missouri. It is a public school with primarily less-than 2-year programs. It has 42 students and an admission rate of 85%. Columbia Area Vocational Technical School has a less than one year program in Construction Trades, Other Specialties which graduated one student in 2008.


Environmental Technician: NREP provides an Environmental Registry listing for individuals conducting environmental technician job functions.

For more information, see the National Registry of Environmental Professionals website.


Columbia, Missouri
Columbia, Missouri photo by Grey_Wanderer

Columbia is situated in Boone County, Missouri. It has a population of over 100,733, which has grown by 19.2% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Columbia, 85, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Columbia are valued at $171,800 on average, which is below the state average. In 2008, three hundred thirty-five new homes were constructed in Columbia, down from six hundred fifty-three the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Columbia are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is educational services, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 15 minutes. More than 50.5% of Columbia residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 24.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Columbia is 6.8%, which is less than Missouri's average of 8.9%.

The percentage of Columbia residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 40.9%, is less than both the national and state average. Sugar Grove Church, Fairview Church and Emmanuel Church are among the churches located in Columbia. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Columbia is home to the Columbia Country Club and the Columbia Plaza as well as Nickell Park and Stephens Park. Shopping centers in the area include Whitegate Shopping Center, North County Shopping Center and Biscayne Mall. Visitors to Columbia can choose from Churchill's, Columbia Super 8 Motel and Arrow Head Motel LLC for temporary stays in the area.