Two people wearing hazmat suits. One person is adjusting the other person's breathing apparatus. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Are you interested in protecting public safety and preventing environmental damage?

If so, consider a role as a hazmat technician!

What do hazmat technicians do?

Hazmat (hazardous materials) technicians respond to emergencies involving dangerous substances.

GIF of Home Simpson taking off his PPE and leaving, as a radioactive bar sticks to his back. Text says,

Equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respirators, eye protection, and suits, hazmat technicians control and contain the spread of hazardous materials safely and effectively.

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Common materials handled include:

  • asbestos

  • radioactive waste

  • mold

  • lead

  • mercury.

These materials may be:

  • toxic

  • radioactive

  • flammable

  • explosive

  • corrosive.

They first identify the material, then dispose of it correctly.

How do I become a hazmat technician?

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To become a hazmat technician, you'll need:

  • a high school diploma

  • to complete a HAZMAT training program

  • to pass a background check

  • to be in good physical shape to carry and work in heavy protective gear

For specialized roles or to work for the government, you'll also need:

  • a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or environmental science

  • advanced training and certifications in specific areas — for example, cargo tankers or weapons of mass destruction (WMDs)

Who can I work for?

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Hazmat technicians work for a variety of employers, including:

  • private companies, such as factories, transportation, healthcare, and consulting firms

  • government agencies, including local, state, and federal

  • within police, firefighter, and emergency medical technician (EMT) departments as a specialist

  • research institutions

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Depending who you work for, you may:

  • handle different types of hazardous materials

  • have a different pay-scale

  • work different hours

  • be required to have different certifications

What kind of pay can I expect?

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Hazmat technicians make on average $44,886 per year.

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Hazmat technicians make on average $52,169 per year.

Is this career right for me?

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This might sound good if you're...

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  • interested in the sciences, environmental safety, and public health

  • like being physically active

  • like to work under pressure

  • enjoy analysis and investigation to solve problems

  • someone who loves learning — every day has new situations…and equipment

This may not sound good if you ...

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  • don't like emergency work in dangerous conditions

  • don't like working on-call, 24/7

  • don't like physically demanding work and wearing PPE in hot and claustrophobic conditions for extended periods of time

  • don't like completing lots of paperwork


Which strength would be best suited for a role as a hazmat technician?

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