Career & job advancement opportunities for asbestos surveyors and consultants
In many respects, it is quite remarkable to think that in the space of less than 25 years, asbestos has gone from a status of being legal to import and use in the UK, to one in which its use is entirely banned. Furthermore, stringent rules and regulations now exist in the UK to help control the risk that the now-notorious material can pose to human health.
Along the way, an entire industry has sprung up, focused on helping those responsible for the maintenance and repair of buildings to comply with their legal obligations to control asbestos risks.
This situation, in turn, has led to an abundance of job opportunities arising in this crucial industry for ensuring the safety of anyone who might be at risk of coming into contact with asbestos. Such job roles include the likes of asbestos surveyors, who inspect buildings and collect samples in search of asbestos, and asbestos removal operatives, who safely remove materials that have been found to contain asbestos.
So, what are the key things you should know about job and career opportunities in the burgeoning asbestos management industry? Below, we have documented some of them.
- 1 Career opportunities in the asbestos industry
- 2 Education and training requirements for an asbestos management career
- 3 Career advancement options
- 4 There is plenty of scope to advance and excel in the asbestos industry
Career opportunities in the asbestos industry
There’s no doubt about it: as of the 2020s, asbestos management and removal professionals are in huge demand. After all, asbestos is far from a mere “problem of the past”. The substance continues to be responsible for around 5,000 deaths a year in the UK, and great numbers of buildings up and down the country still contain asbestos dating back to the many decades when it was legal to use.
So, those who manage non-domestic premises – and who are therefore “dutyholders” in accordance with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 – are frequently extremely mindful these days of the importance of seeking out the services of well-qualified asbestos professionals.
But what job roles and responsibilities exist in today’s asbestos industry? We have set out some examples below.
- Asbestos surveyor: as touched on above, this type of asbestos professional conducts surveys in order to identify asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
- Asbestos removal operatives safely remove and dispose of asbestos materials on a given site.
- Asbestos removal supervisors are required on all asbestos removal assignments, in order to effectively manage removal operatives and ensure safety. Their role is vital for supervising and coordinating the activities of workers engaged in the removal of asbestos.
- Asbestos consultants are typically involved more in the managerial and planning aspects of dealing with asbestos, in contrast to the “in the field” nature of asbestos surveyors’ and asbestos removal operatives’ work.
- Asbestos analysts undertake air monitoring, designed to detect the extent to which asbestos fibres might be lingering in the air at a given site. They play a vital role in completing the clearance procedure after asbestos has been removed from a given premises, checking the quality of the work, and assessing whether the area can be safely re-occupied.
- Asbestos lab technicians undertake bulk sample analysis, to determine whether asbestos is present in sampled material – and if so, the type and amount of asbestos present.
Education and training requirements for an asbestos management career
The importance of proper training and certification for asbestos-related work should not be understated. Naturally, the training that will be most relevant and useful will depend on the specific role that the student is to carry out in the asbestos management or removal industry. By undertaking the right training, an asbestos professional can help ensure they are effective in their work, and that they do not pose an avoidable risk to themselves or others.
There are three broad levels of asbestos information, instruction, and training. Such education and training come under the following categories:
- Asbestos awareness
- Non-licensable work with asbestos, including Notifiable Non-licensed Work (NNLW)
- Licensable work with asbestos
Those who are interested in becoming competent in the handling of asbestos cannot expect to reach this status simply by attending a training course. Instead, it is a combination of training, on-the-job learning, instruction, and assessment that will enable them to attain professional competency.
With that in mind, aspiring asbestos professionals should be looking into certain accredited courses and qualifications, such as those detailed below:
Asbestos surveying and management courses
If you would like to become an asbestos surveyor, you should be looking at gaining what is widely known as the P402 qualification.
P402 is suitable for a variety of professionals in the asbestos industry, including not only asbestos surveyors, but also managers of surveyors, asbestos re-inspectors, and anyone who requires a detailed understanding of asbestos surveying principles (such as an asbestos report writer, building surveyor, or architect).
Undertaking the P402 course – as can be done over several days – will enable you to arm yourself with both background knowledge and practical skills in relation to surveying buildings for asbestos, assessing ACMs, and providing general guidance on asbestos management.
However, in order to take on the P402 course in the first place, you will be expected to have a basic awareness of the contents of the HSG264 Asbestos: The Survey Guide document, as well as a minimum of six months’ practical fieldwork experience in undertaking asbestos surveys.
Asbestos removal courses
When we are recruiting for asbestos removal professionals here at Oracle Solutions, we expect candidates for removal operative roles to have an Asbestos Removal Operative Certificate, and a minimum of two years’ experience. Candidates will also need to hold a CSCS card.
Similarly, if you would like to work for us as an asbestos removal supervisor, you will be expected to have an Asbestos Removal Supervisor Certificate, a CSCS card, and at least two years’ experience.
Ongoing professional development and upskilling opportunities
Once you are actively working in asbestos management, you will be in a strong position to seek out a broader range of duties to take on, which will help further bolster your employability and earnings potential.
Those who join our team at Oracle Solutions as asbestos surveyors, for example, are given chances to grow professionally by taking on such responsibilities as the delivery of asbestos training, asbestos-contaminated land services, and/or asbestos removal management, to cite just some of the possibilities.
Career advancement options
With every director and senior manager at Oracle Solutions having been promoted from within our company, this should tell you something about the plentiful opportunities that exist to ‘work up the rankings’ in this fascinating (and ever-relevant) industry.
Below, we have explained further what some of your career advancement options could be in the asbestos industry:
Gaining experience and specialisation
In common with many other industries, the asbestos management sector allows for capable and proven professionals to progress to higher-level and more specialised roles. You might, for instance, start out as an assistant, before gradually moving up to more senior positions.
Another example of someone gaining experience and specialisation in this field, would be someone who pursues a career as an asbestos removal operative, and who gradually acquires expertise in an ever-broader range of specific asbestos removal techniques. This will naturally help make them more effective in their day-to-day jobs, while also increasing their suitability for higher-level positions, such as in supervising asbestos removal operatives.
Leadership and management roles
As a professional in the asbestos management sector, you might be interested in taking up more senior positions later in your career.
This might entail transitioning from being an asbestos removal operative, to working as a supervisor overseeing asbestos projects. As you gain qualifications, experience, and on-the-job knowhow, you might also look to take on project management and consultancy roles, where you will not necessarily be working directly “in the field”, but will provide the benefit of advice and strategic thinking.
Asbestos management is closely connected to various other fields that are also concerned with keeping the users of buildings safe.
So, you might parlay your expertise and experience in the asbestos sector into a rewarding role in a different or broader industry, such as environmental health and safety management, or building inspection and regulation.
There is plenty of scope to advance and excel in the asbestos industry
Whether you might be reading this as someone with an initial interest in a career as an asbestos surveyor or asbestos removal operative, or you already aspire to eventually move into more senior roles in this industry, you will not be short of interesting career opportunities.
A career in asbestos surveying or asbestos removal can be extremely rewarding, not least in that you will be playing a crucial role in helping to keep people safe, and contributing to something much bigger than yourself. It is certainly a profession in which you will be so much “more than a number”.
As a professional in the asbestos industry, whether at Oracle Solutions or elsewhere, you will never stop learning, growing, and being stimulated. Indeed, it is important to emphasise that such learning will be far from a “one-time-only” thing, not least because it will be crucial for you to stay updated on the latest industry developments and regulation.
If you would like to learn more about the fruitful career you could enjoy as an asbestos management or removal professional with Oracle Solutions, please click through to the relevant section of our website. Or if you are a dutyholder for a non-domestic site and are seeking out excellent-value and high-quality asbestos services, please don’t hesitate to contact our team for a free quote.
Written by Jess Scott
Jess Scott has been an all-round asbestos consultant since 1996. That’s nearly 3 decades of asbestos knowledge. He spends his time sharing that knowledge with the team at Oracle and with their clients. Jess's goal is, and always has been, to use my expertise in helping people to comply with the law. This legal compliance ultimately helps to protect everyone from the harmful effects of asbestos. Jess has acted as an asbestos expert witness in legal cases and is involved in many asbestos educational activities throughout the UK.