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How to Become a Hazardous Training Instructor

Find out how to become a hazardous training instructor. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in hazardous materials training.

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Requirements to Become a Hazardous Training Instructor

Hazardous materials instructors conduct classes that provide adult learners with information regarding hazardous materials classifications, safety regulations and protection measures. Hazardous training instructors may train workers from a variety of industries and often work with emergency workers like fire fighters, police officers and other emergency responders. The following table includes basic information on how to enter the field of hazardous training instruction:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Not typically required; aspiring instructors usually need to complete a specified training course to qualify for teaching positions*
Degree Fields Varies; usually depends on type of hazmat training they are conducting**
Certification Voluntary certifications are available from the World Safety Organization***
Experience Varies; most instructors need to have previous hazardous materials training and teaching experience****
Key Skills Able to establish learning objectives and adapt to students' needs; active listening, speaking*****
Additional Requirements Knowledge of hazardous materials regulations, able to keep up with regulatory changes**

Sources: *Missouri Department of Public Safety State Emergency Management Agency, **U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, ***World Safety Organization, ****California Emergency Management Agency, *****O*NET Online.

Step 1: Determine Which Courses to Teach and Fulfill the Requirements

The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration noted that it is usually up to the employers to determine the qualifications for hazmat instructors, so specific education and training requirements often vary between employers. Aspiring hazmat instructors should figure out exactly what qualifications they need to meet before pursuing instructor training. For example, to become a California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) hazmat instructor, individuals need to have documentation of two years of experience working with hazardous materials and complete the instructor training course along with the course they intend on teaching. Explosive and hazardous materials instructor training from the North Carolina Justice Academy requires that incoming students have CPR certification, possess current criminal justice instructor certification and have a recommendation from a certified school director.

Once students know the prerequisites, they can start completing the necessary steps. Students can start by working in an entry-level position that provides relevant hazmat experience. For example, students who are looking to become CSTI hazmat instructors may find that working as hazardous materials removal workers can satisfy the experience requirements for the instructor positions. Hazardous materials removal workers need to complete a 40-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration training program and possess a high school diploma.

Success Tip:

  • Get teaching experience. Regardless of the instructor position being pursued, hopeful hazmat instructors may want to start finding teaching opportunities as soon as possible. This can allow future instructors to get comfortable explaining concepts and can count towards the teaching experience required by some employers or training courses.

Step 2: Take Instructor Training Courses

To qualify for most instructor positions, individuals usually need to complete a training course for instructors, often referred to as 'train-the-trainer' courses. Train-the-trainer course requirements vary between states, but students can expect to complete these courses in about two to four days. The train-the-trainer courses are typically administered by departments and agencies within state governments or other professional institutions. Some states may also require instructors to successfully complete the course they plan on teaching in addition to finishing the train-the-trainer course.

Success Tip:

  • Keep training updated. Instructors may be required to take update courses every few years to keep on teaching. Organizations and institutions usually offer a refresher or update course periodically so instructors can satisfy this ongoing requirement.

Step 3: Become Certified

The World Safety Organization (WSO) offers a variety of voluntary certifications that could be useful to hazmat instructors. The Certified Hazardous Materials Supervisor designation shows employers that the holder can supervise the storage and handling of hazardous materials or oversee at least two emergency response teams. This credential can be earned after obtaining the Certified Hazardous Materials Technician level one and level two certifications and serving one year in a hazmat operations/response program. WSO also offers three levels of safety instructor certifications, which can show employers that the instructor meets specific requirements related to teaching safety courses.

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