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. View article »

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  • 0:04 Should I Become a…
  • 1:35 Step 1: Experience & Training
  • 3:06 Step 2: Certifications…
  • 3:47 Step 3: Management Positions

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Demolition Expert?

Education None; courses or vocational training in construction management beneficial
Licensure/Certification License/certification required to remove hazardous materials
Experience Varies; 5+ 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, use of heavy machinery, and safety practices and procedures
Salary (May 2014) $50,210 (2015 median for explosives workers, ordnance handling experts, and blasters)

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

Demolition experts are usually contractors or construction managers who are experienced in wrecking and demolition work. These individuals are sometimes also called explosive workers, ordnance handling experts, or simply blasters. Individuals in a management position may supervise others in the most efficient and safest ways to demolish old buildings, homes, and other structures.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for explosives workers, ordnance handling experts, and blasters was $50,210 as of May 2015. Since demolition experts often place and detonate explosives, the work environment requires safety measures to avoid injuries, and special protective clothing is often used. Demolition experts should have Strong analytical, decision-making, verbal communication skills. , time-management and managerial skills. Travel between multiple work sites might be necessary, and licenses or certifications are required for experts working with certain hazardous materials. Additionally, they should have an understanding of materials used in structures, various heavy machinery, and safety practices and procedures.

While employers prefer construction managers with an undergraduate degree, individuals with a high school diploma can start work as construction laborers and gain the necessary experience through several years on the job. Usually employers provide on-the-job training or apprenticeship programs for new workers.

Step 1: Experience and Training

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.

For higher level positions, usually at least five years of experience is required for supervisory positions, although this requirement can vary. Although there are no formal education requirements, courses or vocation training in construction management can be beneficial.

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 2: Certifications & Licenses

Government license or certification is required to remove asbestos, lead, mold, and other hazardous materials. 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 3: Management Positions

For 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. Although not strictly required, some employers may prefer applicants with formal training and an undergraduate degree in a related field.

In addition, demolition experts wanting to advance to management positions need to have good time-management and managerial skills and be able oversee quality control and safety of subcontractors during demotion operations.

In summary, demolition experts take part in and oversee the demolition of old buildings, homes, and other materials, and a mix of work experience and formal training can help with career advancement.

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