Employment of hazardous materials (hazmat) removal workers is expected to grow 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, 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.
In addition, numerous abandoned hazardous material sites (Superfund) recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency still require cleanup. However, employment growth will be determined largely by federal funding.
With a declining number of structures containing asbestos and lead, demand for workers who remove these materials is expected to be somewhat limited. However, regulations for asbestos and lead removal have become stricter, and the need to remove these materials from many federal and historic buildings should continue.
Mold remediation is a small specialty and is unlikely to produce a significant number of jobs.
Many job openings are expected for hazmat removal workers because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation. Job opportunities for radiation safety technicians and decontamination workers should be good as new workers replace those who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons. Additional job openings may result for remediation workers as new facilities open in the coming decade.
Lead and asbestos workers will likely have limited job opportunities at specialty remediation companies as the restoration of federal buildings and historic structures continues at a slower pace than in the past. Also, hazmat removal workers should continue to face competition from construction laborers and insulation workers to do these cleanups.
The best employment opportunities for mold remediation workers should be in the Southeast and parts of the Northeast and Northwest, where mold tends to thrive.
Applicants who have experience working with reactors in the U.S. Navy have better opportunities when they apply for hazmat removal work at nuclear facilities.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition