Materials Handler: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

A materials handler is responsible for storing, moving, and handling materials that may be either hazardous or non-hazardous. Working as a materials handler does not require formal education, but does entail extensive on-the-job training and some positions may require special certification.

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Job Description

A hazardous and non-hazardous materials handler oversees the process of moving and distributing materials. A materials handler takes material from one location to another and may be involved in the process of extracting and loading the material 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. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2012 hazardous materials handlers held 37,500 jobs and non-hazardous materials handlers held 3.4 million jobs ( Job opportunities for hazardous materials handlers are projected grow by 14% from 2012 to 2022 ( The BLS projected that for non-hazardous materials handlers a job increase of 10% between 2012 and 2022. Both figures represent average growth compared to all occupations.


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.


A materials handler does not have to have a college degree. In 2008, according to O*Net 72% of hazardous materials handlers had only a high school diploma or equivalent and 28% had some college, but no degree ( Other job requirements include passing a physical exam, being 18 years old or older, and having a driver's license. In some cases, a commercial-class driver's license may be needed.

Employers supply all necessary training for workers either through the company or through an outside training facility. Some hazardous materials handlers may need to meet specific training standards to earn a license to handle materials like mold or asbestos. Training to qualify a worker for a license 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 BLS published the median annual salary earned by hazardous materials removal workers as $37,930 in May 2013. The same year, hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers earned a median of $23,970, per the BLS.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics