Materials Handler: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Jan 22, 2020

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a materials handler. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Degree Level None
Degree Field(s) None
License/Certification Hazardous materials handling requires licensure; voluntary certification available
Experience On-the-job training provided
Key Skills Passing a physical exam; being 18 years old or older; valid driver's license (commercial driver's license may be needed)
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 11% growth (for hazardous materials removal workers)
5% growth (for hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers)
Median Annual Salary (2018) $42,030 (for hazardous materials removal workers)
$28,260 (for hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A materials handler is responsible for storing, moving, and handling hazardous or non-hazardous materials. Working as a materials handler doesn't require formal education, but does entail extensive on-the-job training. Hazardous materials handling positions may require completion of government training and a hazardous materials handling license. Other requirements might include a commercial driver's license (CDL).

Job Description

A hazardous and non-hazardous materials handlers oversee the process of moving and distributing materials. They take materials from one location to another and may be involved in the process of extracting and loading the materials to be transported. Most material handlers specialize in a specific field, such as asbestos or steel.

A materials handler has a very structured work environment to minimize safety risks. Each job is planned in detail and safety issues are addressed before a job begins.


A materials handler identifies, transports, packs, removes, and disposes of materials. A worker must follow safety procedures and regulations, including wearing special protective gear and disposing of materials as regulated by law. A materials handler physically moves materials and uses heavy equipment to move materials.


Materials handlers don't need a college degree. Requirements typically include passing a physical exam, being 18 years old or older, and having a driver's license. In some cases, a commercial driver's license may be needed.

Employers usually provide all necessary training for workers either through the company or through an outside training facility. Some hazardous materials handlers need to meet specific training standards to earn a license to handle materials like mold or asbestos. Training to qualify a worker for licensure may come from the following agencies:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Department of Energy
  • Mine Safety and Health Administration


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that job opportunities for hazardous materials removal workers would grow by 11% from 2018 to 2028, which was faster than average for all occupations. For that same decade, BLS forecast that job opportunities for material moving workers would increase by 5%.

The BLS also reported that the mean annual salary for hazardous materials removal workers was $47,050 as of May 2018. That same year, hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers earned a mean annual salary of $30,890, per the BLS.

In summary, materials handlers store, move, and handle hazardous or non-hazardous materials. Duties that they typically learn are through on-the-job training.

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