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How do I get Started in Remediation Work?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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Remediation work is a term used to describe the environmental remediation industry. Its primary purpose is to reduce, contain, or eliminate environmental contamination from natural resources, so that the area can be made suitable for other uses. For example, reducing or containing hazardous chemical levels in the soil so that the land can be developed for housing is an example of remediation work.

Environmental contamination is created when manufacturing or processing plants allow the hazardous byproducts or materials to become absorbed by the soil or groundwater. It is important to realize that the primary goal of this industry is reduce the level of risk to currently acceptable levels. This industry is highly regulated, providing strict requirements, procedures, and information guidelines.

Post-secondary education is mandatory to get started in remediation work. The training necessary to understand what is required and the options available is simply not taught at the high school level. Although many of the techniques are learned on the job, the risk of unnecessary illness and death is quite high if the operators do not have a clear understanding of biochemistry, biology, or environmental processes.

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There are two levels of education options: university or college. University training provides the greatest flexibility for promotion within this industry. A degree in chemistry, biochemistry, or environmental science is required. A college training program limits the promotional opportunities available, but is required to get started in this industry. Training as a chemical technologist or environmental technician is generally required.

Experience is typically gained through a work placement program, offered by the post-secondary training program. Obtaining your first position in the remediation treatment industry requires willingness to complete physical labor or operate machinery. Increased exposure to hazardous materials is part of this job, and candidates should be aware of the implications of this risk. On-site work typically requires protective gear, which can be quite claustrophobic, heavy, and hot. It is important to be prepared to physically move or travel extensively in this type of work.

In the 1980s and 1990s, it was much easier to get started in remediation work in North America. The educational requirements were limited to a high school diploma and the completion of a short training course. However, a series of high-profile incidents and lawsuits has significantly increased the legislation surrounding the safe methods of remediation. As a result, candidates must have completed a recognized post-secondary education program. Many organizations provide additional training to ensure that all employees have a clear understanding of the requirements of the position.

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