California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

   Hazardous Materials Removal Workers in California

May also be called: Hazardous Waste Removers; Hazard Waste Handlers; HazMat Workers; Remediation Workers

Specialties within this occupation include: Asbestos Abatement Workers; Decommissioning and Decontamination Workers; Decontamination Technicians; Emergency and Disaster Response Workers; Irradiated Fuel Handlers; Lead Abatement Workers; Radiation Protection Technicians; Radiation Safety Technicians; Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Workers

What Would I Do?

Hazardous Materials Removal Workers,* or HazMat Workers, identify and remove hazardous materials. This includes packaging, transporting, and disposing of various hazardous materials. They may remediate, or clean up, asbestos, radioactive and nuclear materials, arsenic, mold, lead, and mercury.

Green Economy: The emerging green economy activities and technologies will most likely have an effect on the types of materials and tools that HazMat Workers use. While the main goals of the job remain the same, the methods to remove hazardous waste will likely change to become more environmentally friendly.

Some HazMat Workers perform their tasks in office buildings, schools, or historic buildings under renovation. Others are employed at facilities such as landfills, incinerators, boilers, and industrial furnaces. Often, work sites are located in remote areas. Still others work at nuclear facilities and electric power plants.

HazMat Workers face different working conditions depending on their area of expertise. Many work a standard 40-hour week. Overtime and shift work are common for some such as Emergency and Disaster Response Workers who travel to various work sites.

*This product was partially funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration. The information contained in this product was created by a grantee organization and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. All references to non-governmental companies or organizations, their services, products, or resources are offered for informational purposes and should not be construed as an endorsement by the Department of Labor. This product is copyrighted by the institution that created it and is intended for individual organizational, non-commercial use only.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of a Hazardous Materials Removal Worker may appeal to those who enjoy working with a team on well planned projects. Those who like physical activities and working with details may enjoy this occupation.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2017 for Hazardous Materials Removal Workers in California was $41,285 annually, or $19.84 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2017Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, and vision insurance as well as vacation and retirement plans. Initial training and refresher courses are provided by employers. Some offer tuition reimbursement. Certain HazMat Workers receive regular physicals provided by the employer.

What is the Job Outlook?

Increased public awareness and federal and State regulations are resulting in the removal of more hazardous materials. This is to prevent further contamination of natural resources and promote public health and safety.

The increased pressure for cleaner electric generation facilities may drive the need for Decontamination Technicians, Radiation Safety Technicians, and Decommissioning Workers. Lead and asbestos workers will have some opportunities as restoration of federal buildings and historic structures continues, although at a slower pace than in the past.

How Do I Qualify?

No formal education beyond a high school diploma is required for a person to become a Hazardous Materials Removal Worker. In fact, some employers do not require a high school diploma. However, federal, State, and local government standards require specific types of on-the-job training. Regulations vary by specialty and locality. Employers are responsible for employee training.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

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