Environmental Cleanup Jobs
By Eric Hammer
No matter whether you read this in 2011, soon after it was
written, or in 2050, years from now, the odds are good that there
will always be jobs available in environmental cleanup. As long
as the world depends on chemicals for producing food and fuels
such as oil, coal and natural gas for keeping the power going
or the car running, there will, sadly, be environmental disasters
which require skilled technicians who work in the field of environmental
However, before you rush out to find such jobs, it's important
to understand that the work is not easy and is quite dirty. You
will typically be working outdoors, in all kinds of weather and
there is usually a persistent stench from the damage that has
been caused by the environmental disaster that you have been
sent to clean up. There are also health hazards involved, despite
the best efforts of the environmental cleanup industry to protect
You will typically be wearing special hazmat suits and respirators
in order to work in the field of environmental cleanup, though
such suits and respirators don't protect you when you arrive
at the worksite and get dressed for the job. This has led to
many people who worked at cleaning up oil spills reporting breathing
problems months or even years after the job ended.
How Much Can You Make?
As of 2011, ship captains typically can earn as much as $500
for a trip out on the river to engage in environmental cleanup
while general workers typically earn around $15-$20 per hour
for the work.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Keep in mind that this is a physically demanding job. If you
are not in good health, it's unlikely that environmental cleanup
work is going to be a good fit for you. The job can also be extremely
depressing as you will often find that it's too late to save
thousands of animals that have perished because of a chemical
or oil spill that you have been sent in to deal with.
It is also worth remembering, as noted above, that there are
health risks involved in environmental cleanup work. The most
common problem that most workers report is breathing issues since
microscopic particles of toxic chemicals often end up inside
their lungs, in spite of the best safety efforts.
Those who are interested in this kind of work may also want
to consider working in hazardous materials cleanup work. Whereas
environmental cleanup most often involves cleaning up oil spills
and the like, hazardous materials workers can be called upon
to help clean up asbestos and other kinds of hazardous materials
in various homes and other areas where it had been installed
in the past. Such work also pays quite well and involves similar
Qualifications / Requirements
Generally, you'll need a certain amount of training in handling
hazardous materials and in environmental cleanup before you can
land a job doing this kind of work. While most states don't have
specific regulations, most employers will prefer those who have
had such training, which can last several months. You should
also be physically able to handle hard labor in harsh conditions
as the work is quite demanding.
Start by taking appropriate courses in handling hazardous
materials and becoming certified in environmental cleanup work.
Then, look for companies which specialize in this field and which
are currently hiring. Be prepared to relocate to wherever the
environmental disaster happens to be on relatively short notice.
Check out these helpful resources to learn more about environmental
Ocean Careers: Environmental Cleanup - This
is an excellent introduction to the work of environmental cleanup
and what it involves. Be sure to click on the various sections
to find out all the details as the initial page doesn't have
any information on it.
Sun Sentinel: Oil Cleanup Work Pays Well, but Work
is Tough -This is a good general article on the business
of environmental cleanup and what's involved in doing the job
and getting work in the field.