How to Do Your Part: Oil Spill Cleanup Jobs The April oil was devastating, but thanks to thousands of helpers, the Gulf of Mexico is clearing up. Oil spill cleanup jobs are still available for those looking to join the cleanup efforts.

by Catherine Saez

Months after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill - described as the worst in the history of the United States - the ecological damage will need attention for years to come and green, oil spill cleanup jobs are in demand.

Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida were hit by the oil spill and most states have set up Web sites to hire clean up workers and some are still looking.

The negative environmental effects of oil spills may take years to subside and many specialized skills will still be needed to address the problem once the emergency cleanup has been achieved.

Oil Spill Cleanup Jobs

The clean up effort after the “Deepwater Horizon” oil rig’s explosion in April has mobilized thousand of workers from a wide array of qualifications.

People interested in clean-up jobs can find opportunities in communities as well as from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). NIEHS provides more information on oil spills, oil spill response characteristics, on how to identify and control hazards pertaining to the response, and clean-up activities related to an oil spill.

Environmental jobs that could be useful to prevent, assess, manage, and control oil spills include:

  • Project managers,
  • Wildlife scientists
  • Communication specialists
  • Environmental analysts
  • Media relations
  • Marine scientists
  • Veterinarians
  • Safety technicians
  • Microbiologists
  • Biologists
  • Data managers
  • Hazardous material removal workers
  • Oil spill recovery safety monitors


Oil Spill Cleanup Job Training

Those pursing oil spill cleanup jobs need special skills that can be acquired through serious training, and candidates might think about getting ready in the event another crisis hits.

In July the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels issued a statement, requiring that "employees hired to be supervisors in the onshore and marine cleanup are required to receive extensive training" in a "rigorous" 40-hour program, such as the Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Training program, to ensure not only their safety, but the safety of other employees as well. Potential hazards from oil by-products, dispersants, detergents, and degreasers have to be carefully understood by workers.

In addition to training, some oil spill cleanup job positions require formal education. Most scientist positions will require a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in sciences, whether it is biology, microbiology, marine science, or public health. Most of those environmental degrees can be followed and earned online. Another master’s degree that can be applied is a master’s in environmental conservation.

The Future of Oil Spill Cleanup Jobs

Recent history is filled with accidents leading to oil spills such as the March 1989 ecological disaster in Alaska with the tanker Exxon Valdez hitting a reef, or Hurricane Katrina leading to a massive oil spill in 2005, or in 2006 when waste oil from a tank was released in Louisiana during a violent rain storm.

Oil spill cleanup jobs, though rewarding, require special skills that can be acquired through serious training. People interested in doing their part to help the country respond to environmental crises such as oil spills should take the time now to consider training and getting ready skills-wise in the event that another crisis hits.

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