Asbestos Abatement Technicians
Education and Training Requirements
You should take drafting courses, or any course that teaches you to read and create blueprints and detailed design plans. Basic arithmetic can help you with the design and construction of containment areas and will also help you with any monitoring. As a monitor or supervisor, you may also need to write reports. English, composition, and speech courses can train you to communicate clearly with work teams, clients, and public officials.
The employer usually pays for any necessary training for asbestos abatement workers. Many colleges and universities across the country offer EPA-accredited courses that instruct workers in safety regulations, protective equipment, confined-space-entry procedures, decontamination, technology, and other topics. The programs typically consist of 40 hours of instruction and take place over one week. Some programs include hands-on training in constructing a contamination unit, the use of protective clothing, and other relevant practices. The EPA requires asbestos abatement workers to also take refresher courses. Most states require an additional one-day course every year, along with a test. Visit https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/state-asbestos-contacts for information on asbestos training in your state.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
After completing the course work from an EPA-accredited program, workers receive the certification required of technicians. This certification must be updated, usually annually. Each individual state has its own regulations about the frequency of refresher courses and tests.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Because asbestos is a hazardous material, you will not be able to obtain experience in the field before you receive formal training. You can gain familiarity with the field of asbestos remediation by visiting the EPA's Asbestos Web site, https://www.epa.gov/asbestos, and talking with asbestos abatement technicians about their careers.
This is physical work. Technicians must climb and balance on scaffolds in order to reach the materials. Also, because of the hazardous nature of the materials they handle, asbestos abatement workers must be aware of the health risks. Serious illness can result if skin, eyes, mouth, nose, or lungs are exposed to the loose fibers in the air. Technicians must work within all safety requirements and seek employment with reputable businesses that take all necessary precautions to keep workers healthy. Safety precautions cannot be taken lightly—excessive exposure to asbestos can increase your chance of lung cancer by 50 to 90 percent.
You must be able to keep focused on the work at hand; with so many safety concerns, you must follow the regulations and procedures closely. You work as part of a team, but you should also have the skills to work independently and follow the guidance of your supervisors. If you're a supervisor, you must be able to direct others and oversee their work as you fulfill your own responsibilities. You may also have to read plans and blueprints. When in charge, you may have to deal with emergency situations, in which case you need to remain calm and think clearly.