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14 Jobs that Require Hazmat Suits

A disinfecting worker wearing a full protective hazmat suit.

In today’s world, it has become common to see news clips of various health workers shuffling around in hazmat suits. These specialized suits have been used at a very high frequency by healthcare workers to stop the spread of Covid. It’s easy to forget that many other careers require the use of these specialized suits.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the top 15 jobs that require hazmat suits. Let’s dive into what each of these jobs is and what requirements are needed to hold that job.

Drug Enforcement Agent

A police office and his k9 on duty.

Maybe this wasn’t one of the first jobs that came to mind when guessing who wears hazmat suits. However, if you’ve ever seen a new article on any type of drug lab bust, you’ve most likely seen agents sporting hazmat suits.

When state and federal drug enforcement agents enter an illegal drug manufacturing operation, the hazmat suit is an absolute must. Potentially life-threatening chemicals hover in the air and stick to the walls, making it unsafe for uncovered skin and direct breathing.

Due to the dangerous chemicals used in manufacturing these drugs, agents use Level A through C suits to clean the area. Respirators are always required upon entry.

The road to becoming a DEA agent can be a very rewarding one. After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice or Police Science, graduates can go on to make upwards of $82,000 per year. There is a demand for these positions in every state, leaving potential candidates with many residency options.

Nuclear Inspector

A man monitoring radiation levels of a landfill.

For many people, the word “nuclear” is synonymous with “hazmat.” The job of a nuclear inspector requires the use of a top-rated hazmat suit almost at all times.

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Level A hazmat suits are required for all nuclear inspectors. Routine inspections and emergency cleanups both require the same level of equipment. Their suits must also be designed to be specifically resistant to radiation and have lead shielding.

Dangerous chemicals that contain radiation and other harmful toxins can potentially be everywhere around a nuclear inspector. In emergency cleanup situations at reactor sites, this is especially true.

Although the job requires handling and cleaning some serious chemicals, there usually are no specific background or military requirements for nuclear inspectors. However, it may be necessary that a candidate has extensive knowledge and experience in an area such as math or science.

In exchange for working in such a hazardous environment, nuclear inspectors earn a decent salary. The average is around $77,000 per year, with the top ten percent making over $100,000.

Crime Scene Investigator

A crime scene investigator collecting samples and evidence.

Thinking of a Crime Scene Investigator wearing a hazmat suit may take you back to scenes from a show like CSI. This position requires the use of specialized suits when working a crime scene. This is for a multitude of reasons.

Protection against diseases and poisoning is an obvious motivation for wearing a hazmat suit to a crime scene. Wearing these suits also preserves the chain of evidence and prevents any contamination of the scene.

Typically level B or C suits may be used by an investigator. Respirators may not be mandatory all the time. Standard Level D coveralls generally are worn to prevent further contamination when handling the evidence at a lab.

To ensure your resume is competitive, you’ll want to have at least an undergraduate degree in law enforcement or forensic science. If you make the cut and end up with a Crime Scene Investigator position, you can expect an average salary somewhere around $60,000.

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Chemical Spill Cleaner

This is an obvious pick for our list. Most people have visions of a chemical spill cleaner when imagining a worker in a hazmat suit.

In the transportation, manufacturing, and industrial sectors, chemical spills are widespread. Chemical spill cleaners are dispatched in the event of one of these spills.

Typically a spill cleaner job requires a worker to wear a Level B or C hazmat suit. These particular suits are designed to chemical contact with the skin. Respirators are generally worn at all times to prevent any lung or throat damage. Dangerous gases and fumes can build up quickly around the site of a chemical spill.

No college degree is required to obtain a chemical spill cleaner position. However, all applicants must be familiar with the fire protection system and the chemical spill containment system.

Depending on the exact type of chemical spill cleanup a job requires, the median salary for this position will be between $30,000 and $60,000 per year. Cleanup technicians in the oil fields seem to earn the highest salary.

Firefighters

A firefighter dressed in full gear and uniform.

Most people may not have pictured a firefighter in a hazmat suit, given the historic long-coat and helmet uniform traditionally worn by these heroes. However, not all emergency fire situations are free from dangerous chemicals and toxins. Depending on the nature of the items in the fire, hazmat suits may be needed.

Typically aluminized suits with a complete SCBA breathing apparatus and air tank are worn in any dangerous chemical fire. During the actual fire isn’t the only time hazmat suits are mandatory.

After a fire is put out, the investigation begins. During this time, any remaining workers may be required to wear Level B or C hazmat suits with a respirator. This prevents any further damage or injury from direct contact with dangerous chemicals or vapors from smoldering embers.

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A firefighter position usually requires only an applicant to hold a high school diploma. However, the physical prerequisites are far more demanding.

Most potential candidates must be in great physical shape. Excellent hand-eye coordination is needed as well, with the ability to stoop and crawl for long distances. Heavyweights that are carried on the body at all times can take a toll on a firefighter.

Early on, a firefighter will earn only about $40,000 per year. However, after five years, many firefighters will make upwards of $100,000 per year with overtime and holiday pay.

Bed Bug Specialist

This is a position that some of you probably didn’t even realize existed. Rather than falling under the duties of a normal exterminator, a bed bug specialist is a job in itself.

These specialists identify and remove bed bugs in houses, hospitals, dorms, and other living facilities. At times they are accompanied by a canine to help sniff out the location of the bugs.

Although a respirator typically isn’t required, a Level C or D hazmat suit is. This prevents any direct skin contact with a bed bug’s nest. It also protects the skin and face from any potential skin irritations caused by the sprays they use.

There is no college degree required for a bed bug specialist. Some businesses may prefer that a potential candidate have at least minimal experience in licensed pest control.

Jobs as a bed bug specialist are available in most locations across the country. The average salary seems to range anywhere between $30,000 and $60,000 per year.

Astronaut

A man dressed in an astronaut costume looking at his phone.

Perhaps the rarest job on our list is the one of an astronaut. This position is highly coveted and sought after by many high-ranking military officials and members of the science field.

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Most people know what an astronaut suit looks like. However, many may not know that these spacesuits are just specially designed hazmat suits. They are vital in the role of an astronaut and fulfill many duties.

These suits fully contain the wearer within a positive pressure atmosphere. If this positive pressure is ever disrupted, it could be deadly for an astronaut in zero gravity.

The futuristic hazmat suits play other vital roles as well. They contain the ability to heat and cool the user of the suit. They also provide radio communication and radiation protection.

Although the only college requirement is to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree, there are extensive training requirements to land the job. All potential astronauts must pass a rigorous series of training exams.

Entry-level astronauts earn an average of $50,000 per year. Many fringe benefits are included, which make the job more rewarding. After gaining experience and becoming a GS-14 astronaut, the pay grade can rise to nearly $150,000 per year.

Mold Remediator

A disinfector wearing a hazmat suit spraying for mold.

Mold remediation technicians come into contact with hazardous materials daily. Their hazmat suits are essential to avoid contact with the skin, eyes, and mouth.

Black mold is hazardous and can cause severe long-term health effects. This dangerous mold can grow in damp areas of any residential or industrial building. Level B and C hazmat suits are required because of this threat.

Not all the buildings mold remediators come into contact with actually have mold in them yet. Sometimes their services are preventative. However, the hazmat suit ensures the technician’s safety at all times.

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Anyone seeking a career as a mold remediator must have a Bachelor’s Degree in a public health or occupational health-related subject. A history of biology helps as well.

The average salary for a mold remediator is around $70,0000, depending on the area and sector. Federal and state employees can make upwards of $100,000 per year.

Asbestos Remediator

A man wearing a hazmat suit removing asbestos.

Asbestos is a carcinogenic substance used for many years in floors, ceilings, walls, and insulation. The substance was deemed a health hazard. Over the years, remediators have been cleaning the substance out of all the old buildings it was used in.

Most of the jobs an asbestos technician takes on will require exposure to asbestos and asbestos dust. Due to the high exposure, a Level B or C hazmat suit with a respirator is always required. Breathing in asbestos dust can cause long-term health effects.

There are no college requirements or degrees needed to become an asbestos technician. However, workers may be required to obtain a CSCS card to work at construction sites.

The average pay for an asbestos remediator falls typically somewhere around $37,000 per year. Depending on where you work, there may be extra benefits included in your salary package.

Soldier

An army soldier in full tactical gear and rifle.

Many people may have become familiar with seeing soldiers using hazmat suits during the early 90s Desert Storm operations. These suits were required due to the threat of chemical weapons.

Soldiers have the potential to be exposed to several different toxic materials and elements during war and peacetime. These include chemical and biological weapons, smoke, specific infectious disease, and chemical waste from certain weapons and vehicles.

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The hazmat suits used during wartime are special military-grade suits. All soldiers will be issued a gas mask.

A high school diploma or GED is the only requirement to become a United States military soldier. There are several branches to choose from and are operational across the whole country.

The starting salary of a soldier is around $40,000 per year. This can increase significantly over the years based on performance, rank, and experience.

Lead Paint Remediator

A worker hangs a caution tape for lead hazard.

Lead-based paint was used in the past and is still present in many older buildings and houses. Lead is a highly toxic substance that causes lead poisoning if inhaled. As lead paint ages, tiny pieces can flake off and become airborne particles. These particles are hazardous.

Lead paint remediators must wear a Level B or C hazmat suit when removing lead paint. A respirator must be worn at all times to prevent inhalation.

When the paint is disturbed, the small lead particles fill the air in the area. Without a respirator, lead poisoning is almost a guarantee.

Many places require potential employees to hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sciences or something similar. There are also classes potential employees must take to obtain certification cards.

The average salary for a lead paint technician is around $40,000 per year. This can increase up to $70,000 depending on experience and spectrum of duties.

Doctor/Nurse/EMT/Paramedic

A doctor in hazmat suit examining a patient.

This has become a pretty typical scene in our current world. A great majority of healthcare workers are wearing hazmat suits. This is especially true when there are high numbers of infected patients they are treating.

However, this isn’t a new routine. When surgery is performed, scrubs and a mask setup are worn that is equivalent to a Level D PPE. This prevents any spread of infectious diseases or germs.

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During more significant emergency situations, Level B and C hazmat suits can be used. If there is an outbreak of a deadly disease that is spreadable, usually the full hazmat suit will be worn.

The requirements for each of these jobs vary considerably. Some nurses and EMTs require no degree, while others require an Associate’s. All students must obtain a Ph.D. in medical science and complete their clinical before becoming certified doctors.

The average salary for a doctor is around $100,000 per year. Nurses range anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000 based on their level of training. Paramedics and EMTs usually range anywhere from $35,000 to $70,000 per year.

Biologist/Biochemist

Biologists and Biochemists work in clean lab environments that require an utterly sanitary process to develop specialized biological substances. Many of these substances can be potentially harmful or fatal if inhaled or swallowed.

The types of hazmat suits used by biochemists have a wide range. Depending on the job, anywhere from basic level D to fully contained Level A suits can be used. Respirator use depends on what substance is behind handled.

Potential candidates must have a Ph.D. in biochemistry and an undergraduates degree in biochemistry, chemistry, biology, or related field. Extensive training is also a requirement before being hired.

The average salary for this position is around $60,000 per year. Depending on advancement and experience, the salary may be raised to $90,000.

Infectious Disease Researcher

Some researchers specialize in collecting data on infectious diseases. Places like the CDC, Army Medical Research Institute, and other specialized locations hire these researchers to study these diseases.

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These researchers must wear CDC-grade hazmat suits. These suits are similar to Level A or B but are designed for microbes that can lead to death and have no cure.

Any potential researcher must first complete an undergraduate degree. After this is over, it may take an additional nine years to become a doctor of infectious diseases.

The payoff is very rewarding. The average infectious disease researcher will make about $160,000 per year. Higher years of experience can draw a salary upwards of $200,000 per year.