Pros and Cons of Being a Medical Waste Worker
Medical waste workers, also known as medical waste transporters, handle the collection and drop off of medical waste from hospitals, clinics, blood banks, veterinary hospitals and other healthcare locations where medical waste is generated. Take a look at some of the good and bad to being a medical waste worker.
|Pros of Being a Medical Waste Worker|
|No formal education is required.*|
|Economy has little impact on this field due to the need for waste disposal.*|
|Average job growth (about 14% from 2012-2022).*|
|Good job opportunities due to workers who retire or leave this field.*|
|Cons of Being a Medical Waste Worker|
|Despite safety measures, an inherent risk and danger occur in dealing with hazardous materials.*|
|Overtime and shift work can be required.*|
|Long commutes are common.*|
|Stress can occur, especially when workers are called in on emergency cleanup jobs.*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Information on Medical Waste Worker Careers
Medical waste workers have a variety of responsibilities besides simply driving the waste to an appropriate location. Workers must always identify the type of waste prior to transportation. If you discover a waste other than the type you're authorized to carry, you're not allowed to complete the transport. You must maintain daily records of the amount of waste you transported to the disposal facility. That facility must be an authorized waste receiving facility. The transporter is responsible for ensuring waste is transported in a proper vehicle. This means that the vehicle must be maintained so that no leaking or discharge of waste occurs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2014 that hazardous materials removal workers earned about $20 hourly, which amounted to an average of around $42,000 annually (www.bls.gov). The states that had the highest paying salaries for hazardous materials removal workers included Alaska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and New York. Hazardous materials removal workers who were in the top ten percent of wage estimates made about $32 or more an hour, which is about $67,000 yearly.
Training and Licensure
Most employers want to hire medical waste workers with a high school diploma or a GED. Beyond that, most of your training comes from your employer. Normally, you'll have at least 40 hours of on-the-job training. The exact amount of job training is dependent upon various federal and state regulations. Your employers are responsible for your training, so you can be assured that you'll fulfill all the necessary requirements in time. At the end of your training, you'll be licensed with the government to perform medical waste removal work. If you're driving a specialized vehicle, you'll also need to obtain the appropriate license.
What Employers Want in Medical Waste Workers
Due to the sensitive nature of handling medical waste, employers want trustworthy workers. This means that you arrive to work on time and that you're dependable. Having an eye for details is important. If you're vigilant, you'll be able to avoid committing any mistakes and you'll be able to find any issues such as exposed waste as they arise. Take a look at what some businesses were looking for in medical waste workers in March 2012.
- A waste management opening in South Carolina calls for applicants with the strength and capability to lift upwards of 50 pounds.
- A clean driving record and a valid Class A or B CDL license are some of the requirements an employer needs for a medical waste collection driver opening in Georgia.
- In California, a medical waste worker managerial position requires someone with leadership, managerial and investigative skills.
How to Stand Out as a Medical Waste Worker
If you take the time to learn about the various chemicals and materials involved with this career, you can set yourself apart from other workers. This knowledge of medical supplies can help you do your job better and show an additional level of commitment to this field. Having a strong background in basic mathematics helps greatly when it comes to mixing various neutralizing solutions together.
While you're in high school, you could receive some benefit from taking communication or business classes. Acquiring some managerial skills can help you become a prime candidate for promotional opportunities. Many community college and vocational schools offer coursework in business leadership and communication.
Other Occupational Paths
If you like working toward eliminating waste but don't want to deal with medical waste, you might want to consider being a liquid waste treatment plant and system operator. In this occupation, you'd work at a treatment plant and help monitor, maintain and use various motors and pumps to move wastewater through the treatment process. You'll perform various tests and keep records to ensure that the waste procedural process is functioning properly. A formal education isn't required for this career, although you'll need to complete job training and receiving state certification. The BLS in May 2011 found that water and wastewater treatment plant and systems operators earned about $44,000 yearly.
If you like the medical field, but you want to work in the laboratories, you could look into becoming a medical technologist. In this field, you would perform various tests in order to learn methods for disease detection, prevention and treatment. A bachelor's degree in medical technology is required for this position. Medical and clinical laboratory technologists had average wages of around $58,000 annually according to the BLS in May 2011.