Become a Demolition Expert: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a demolition expert. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in demolition.

Should I Become a Demolition Expert?

Demolition experts are usually contractors or construction managers who are experienced in wrecking and demolition work. These individuals supervise others in the most efficient and safest ways to demolish old buildings, homes and other structures. Safety measures must be carefully followed to avoid injuries, and special protective clothing is often used. Travel between multiple work sites might be necessary.

While employers might prefer construction managers with an undergraduate degree, individuals with a high school diploma might begin work as construction laborers and gain the necessary experience through several years on the job. Employers usually provide on-the-job training or apprenticeship programs for new workers. Licenses or certifications are required for experts working with certain materials.

Career Requirements

Education No formal requirements; courses or vocational training in construction management can be beneficial
Licensure and/or Certification Government license or certification is required to remove asbestos, lead, mold and other hazardous materials
Experience Varies; at least five years of demolition experience required for supervisory positions
Key Skills Strong analytical, decision-making, verbal communication, time-management and managerial skills; ability to hire subcontractors and oversee quality control and safety during demolition operations; understanding of materials used in structures as well as knowledge of various heavy machinery and of safety practices and procedures*
Salary (May 2014) $53,160 per year (Mean annual salary for explosives workers, ordnance handling experts, and blasters)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job postings from November 2012.

Step 1: Gain Work Experience

Individuals interested in becoming demolition experts will first need experience in the construction industry. Construction laborer jobs typically have no formal education requirements, and some of the work includes tearing down buildings and removing hazardous materials. Also, construction laborers may gain experience working with equipment used in demolition work, including pavement breakers and jackhammers.

Step 2: Seek Formal Training

Aspiring demolition experts may pursue undergraduate degree programs in construction management to improve their knowledge and employment opportunities. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available at universities to prepare students for leadership positions within the construction industry. Coursework includes subjects such as engineering construction, project management, soils and foundations, structures and construction safety.

The National Demolition Association (NDA) offers online academy programs that allow individuals to learn about various aspects of demolition, including safety, cranes and derricks, electrical safety, employee conduct and risk management. The organization also offers paid internships and summer work opportunities for students.

Step 3: Obtain Needed Certifications and Licenses

Workers involved in removing hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead, must complete training approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to receive a federal license. This training covers personal protective equipment, on-site safety, hazard identification and decontamination. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also requires workers, supervisors and managers to be trained and accredited as an asbestos removal professional. State agencies can provide more information on this training.

Step 4: Seek Demolition Management Positions

Applicants generally need to have at least five years of experience in demolition that includes supervising workers. Applicants may oversee projects across several states and must have working knowledge of mechanical and electrical work, environmental remediation and other construction fields.

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