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Career and Education Opportunities for Hazardous Materials Handlers in Seattle, Washington

If you want to be a hazardous materials handler, the Seattle, Washington area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 2,060 working hazardous materials handlers in Washington; this should grow by 16% to 2,390 working hazardous materials handlers in the state by 2016. This is better than the national trend for hazardous materials handlers, which sees this job pool growing by about 14.8% over the next eight years. 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.

A person working as a hazardous materials handler can expect to earn about $27 per hour or $56,710 yearly on average in Washington and about $17 per hour or $37,310 per year on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for hazardous materials handlers are better than earnings in the general category of Waste Management in Washington and better than general Waste Management category earnings nationally.

There are sixty-five schools of higher education in the Seattle area, including five within twenty-five miles of Seattle 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. It will take only a short time to learn 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.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Seattle include:

  • Mine Cutting and Channeling Machine Company Miner. Operate machinery--such as longwall shears, plows, and cutting machines--to cut or channel along the face or seams of coal mines, stone quarries, or other mining surfaces to facilitate blasting, separating, or removing minerals or materials from mines or from the earth's surface.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Hazardous Materials Handler Training

Seattle Vocational Institute - Seattle, WA

Seattle Vocational Institute, 2120 S Jackson, Seattle, WA 98144-2219. Seattle Vocational Institute is a small school located in Seattle, Washington. It is a public school with primarily less-than 2-year programs and has 270 students. Seattle Vocational Institute has a less than one year program in Construction Trades, Other Specialties which graduated twenty-seven students in 2008.

Edmonds Community College - Lynnwood, WA

Edmonds Community College, 20000 68th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036-5912. Edmonds Community College is a medium sized college located in Lynnwood, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 7,823 students. Edmonds Community College has a less than one year program in Construction Trades, Other Specialties which graduated thirty-six students in 2008.

Clover Park Technical College - Lakewood, WA

Clover Park Technical College, 4500 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, WA 98499-4004. Clover Park Technical College is a medium sized college located in Lakewood, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 3,781 students. Clover Park Technical College has a less than one year program in Construction Trades, Other Specialties which graduated twenty students in 2008.

Renton Technical College - Renton, WA

Renton Technical College, 3000 NE Fourth St, Renton, WA 98056-4195. Renton Technical College is a small college located in Renton, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 4,708 students. Renton Technical College has a less than one year program in Construction Trades, Other Specialties which graduated thirteen students in 2008.

Bates Technical College - Tacoma, WA

Bates Technical College, 1101 S Yakima Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405. Bates Technical College is a medium sized college located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,807 students. Bates Technical College has 2 areas of study related to Hazardous Materials Handler. They are:

  • Construction Trades, Other Specialties, less than one year which graduated 58 students in 2008.
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians, Other Specialties, less than one year which graduated 56 students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

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.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington photo by Dschwen

Seattle is located in King County, Washington. It has a population of over 598,541, which has grown by 6.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Seattle, 126, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Seattle are valued at $206,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred ninety-five new homes were built in Seattle, down from seven hundred seventy-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Seattle are health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 47.2% of Seattle residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 17.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Seattle is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Seattle residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Seattle is home to the Berth 5 and the Akli Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lake City Shopping Center, Westwood Village Shopping Center and Oak Tree Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Seattle can choose from A-1 Motel, Arlington Suites and Marriott Sea-Tac Airport for temporary stays in the area.