In this weekly feature, the editors of SpringBoard highlight one career in the health care professions–including a basic description, educational requirements, core competencies/key skills needed, and related web sites and professional organizations where you can find more information!
The job title isn’t glamorous, but hazardous waste inspectors have very important jobs. They ensure that manufacturers meet local and national guidelines for the disposal of certain types of potentially dangerous waste. They keep our water supply safe and keep dangerous substances out of our soil and air. They visit factories and other industrial settings to help companies understand and comply with waste management regulations. Some serve as site assessors, taking soil samples at vacant properties to determine if hazardous substances are present. They also inspect waste treatment and disposal facilities, and they respond to complaints about improper dumping or disposal. Inspections may require travel throughout the state, including nights away from home. Back at the office, inspectors write reports, research current regulations, interact with other inspectors, and talk with industry managers or clients.
Education and Certification
A typical requirement is a bachelor’s degree in environmental science or a related field, or college-level science classes plus related training. Some jobs require specific certification. Courses and certificates are available at some colleges and universities and from professional organizations.
Core Competencies and Skills
- Basic grounding in chemistry, biology, and geology\
- Interest in educating workers as well as in uncovering problems
- Strong organizational skills and self-motivation
- Ability to write technical reports
- Understanding of local and national waste disposal and management regulations
- Interest in work that involves travel to multiple sites as well as office work
State health department salaries vary according to local budgets as well as cost of living and level of responsibility. Some examples include $40,000 to the low $50,000s in one northern state, $44,000 to $60,000 in a southwestern state, and up to the $80,000s on the west coast.
State governments employ hazardous waste inspectors, usually through the state environmental agency, to inspect businesses throughout the state. There are also some opportunities for hazardous materials inspectors in city and county programs. Manufacturers employ people with similar knowledge to oversee waste management within their companies. Industrial waste disposal companies also employ inspectors to make sure they are transporting materials safely and complying with the law.
Government jobs are considered relatively stable, even in tough economic times, and in fact some supervisors report that it can be challenging to find qualified employees for this type of work.
For Further Information
- Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) www.ecos.org
- Environmental Protection Agency—Wastes Web site www.epa.gov/wastes