How To Become an Abatement Worker in 5 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 30, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An abatement worker safely removes and disposes of hazardous material in a building or structure. Abatement is an important aspect of construction and renovation because it ensures the safety of people working or living in the area and reduces spread of hazardous waste. If you are interested in becoming an abatement worker, it can help to know what steps and qualifications are necessary. In this article, we discuss the main duties of an abatement worker and how to become one.

What is an abatement worker?

An abatement worker is responsible for removing hazardous material, particularly lead or asbestos, from an area. They follow safety procedure to properly dispose of dangerous and toxic materials. Abatement workers also contain the area while working to ensure the hazardous material doesn't spread during removal.

Related: 21 Hazmat Careers (With Salaries and Duties)

What does an abatement worker do?

An abatement worker's primary task is to safely remove hazardous materials from ceilings, walls and other structures. Abatement workers are trained to swiftly and safely scrape away asbestos and pack it into bags for disposal. Other duties of an abatement worker include:

  • Testing materials to determine the most effective cleaning procedures

  • Assembling scaffolding to reach the asbestos

  • Sealing off the work area

  • Spraying chemicals to soften the asbestos and prepare it for removal

  • Cleaning the area once the hazardous material is removed

  • Sterilizing tools after use

  • Packaging toxic material and loading them onto trucks for safe disposal

  • Adhering to proper health and safety protocols

Related: How To Become a Successful Hazardous Materials Specialist

How to become an abatement worker

These are some steps for how you can become an abatement worker:

1. Get a high school diploma or GED

In order to go through the certification process that allows you to work around environmental hazards such as asbestos, you need to have a high school diploma or GED. Many states also require you to be 18 or older. Most abatement worker positions don't require any further education.

2. Complete a training course

Before you can work around asbestos, you need to take a course outlining best practices and safety procedures. The course usually lasts 2-5 days and has a test at the end. In order to pass the course you must get at least 70% on the exam. You can find accredited asbestos courses from specialized asbestos education companies or some trade schools and community colleges.

3. Apply for asbestos worker certification

Once you complete your asbestos safety course, you can apply for an official abatement worker certification and license. Send your course results as well as relevant documents like your photograph, employment history and physical exam records to the government agency that regulates asbestos work in your state. Depending on where you work, they may require more information.

4. Obtain other certifications or licenses

Asbestos certification is the only license required to become an abatement worker. However, other certifications can increase your qualifications and may help you get a job. Here are some certifications that are beneficial to an abatement worker career:

  • OSHA certification

  • Lead safety certification

  • Pesticide applicator's license

  • Hazardous waste operations certification

  • CPR certification

  • Emergency response training

Related: How To Obtain an Environmental Health and Safety Certification

5. Apply for abatement worker jobs

After you have all of your necessary training and licenses, you can start to apply for abatement worker positions. You may find open positions on online job sites, through construction contracting businesses or by talking to people in your personal network. Because older buildings often contain hazardous materials, you can also look for abatement positions with renovation companies or historical societies.

Tips for how to become an abatement worker

Here are some suggestions to improve your chances of finding a job as an abatement worker.

Consider a college degree

While most abatement workers only require a high school diploma, you may consider pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree. Obtaining a college degree may increase the amount of money you make, or allow you to advance to supervisory positions. Majors that may help you in your abatement career are business, construction management or a construction trade degree.

Work in construction

An abatement worker may perform basic construction duties after they clear a location of asbestos. Because of the similarity in work, it may help to gain experience in a construction job. Working in construction can teach you skills that are useful during asbestos abatement and may help you expand your professional network.

Related: 4 Types of Construction Projects (Plus Construction Careers)

Build a network

Expanding your professional network can help you find mentors, connect with other abatement workers and learn about job opportunities. You can grow your network by meeting people during your certification course or refresher class or contacting abatement companies in your area. Because construction and abatement work are similar fields, going to construction events may also help you increase your network.

Maintain your fitness level

An abatement worker is a physically demanding job that can require a lot of lifting, climbing and physically scraping materials off of structures. Improving and maintaining your fitness level can help increase your efficiency at work and may reduce the chance of injury. Consider implementing an exercise routine to sustain your physical strength.

Follow safety regulations

Hazardous materials such as lead and asbestos can be dangerous for people removing them from buildings. Using proper equipment and following safety procedures protects your health and may show your employer that you're trustworthy. Consider researching safety protocols or taking a health and safety course to improve your knowledge of abatement safety regulations.

Research certification regulations

The certification requirements may change depending on which state you work in. If you work as an abatement worker in different states, you may need to receive new certifications for each location. Try to research the areas you plan to work in to determine if you need to apply for additional certifications.

Renew your certification

Abatement workers require an asbestos certification in order to perform their duties. You usually need to renew your certification every year. Some states require you to take a short refresher course before renewal. Try to set reminders about when your certification expires so that you can renew it in time and continue working in abatement.

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