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Asbestos removal operative

Asbestos removal operatives safely remove materials found to contain asbestos. Asbestos is a mix of minerals made from microscopic fibres, traditionally used for insulation. It is now banned in the UK due to health risks but is still present in many buildings. As renovations are carried out, trained asbestos removal operatives will continue to be in demand.

Average salary*

£20000

-

£35000

How to become an asbestos removal operative

There are several routes to becoming an asbestos removal operative. You could complete a college course, an apprenticeship or on-the-job training.

You should explore these routes to becoming an asbestos removal operative, to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions. 

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site. 

College/training provider

While there are no set qualifications required to become an asbestos removal operative, having GCSEs (or equivalent) in maths and English can be beneficial. 

You will need to have specialist training in asbestos removal and complete a course approved by the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) once you are working.

To start you on your career path, you could study for a Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills, a Level 2 Diploma in Construction Operations or a Level 3 Diploma in Demolition.

You’ll need:

  • 2 GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to F), or equivalent (level 1 course)
  • 2 GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent (level 2 course)
  • 4 - 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent (level 3 course).

> Equivalent entry requirements explained

> Find a course near you

> Funding advice

Apprenticeship

You could complete an apprenticeship to become an asbestos removal operative.

You could become an apprentice demolition operative if you are over 18. At 16, you could start as a construction plant operative and specialise in asbestos removal once you are qualified. 

To do this, you’ll need 2 - 3 GCSEs, or equivalent, including maths and English.

An apprenticeship with a construction company is a good way into the industry.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

> Find an apprenticeship near you

> Guide to apprenticeships

Work

If you have some basic experience as a demolition or construction worker, your employer may nominate you to undergo specific training for the removal of asbestos.

This training must be compliant with current Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines. In most cases, working with asbestos also requires a licence, issued by the HSE. 

You might start out as an assistant to a more experienced asbestos removal operative and progress as your abilities improve.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as an asbestos removal operative. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.

> Find out more about work experience

Skills 

Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as an asbestos removal operative include: 

  • Specialist training in asbestos removal
  • Logical thinking skills
  • Good team working skills
  • Awareness of health and safety.

What does an asbestos removal operative do?

As an asbestos removal operative, you will be responsible for safely removing asbestos from renovation and demolition sites. You will need to work with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) licensed asbestos removal contractors. These organisations have to apply to the HSE for a licence to undertake work with asbestos in a tightly controlled environment.

The role of an asbestos removal operative involves the following duties: 

  • Building bespoke containment enclosures around the asbestos-containing material
  • Safely removing, and disposing of, asbestos from ceilings, walls, boilers and more
  • Using a variety of specialist equipment including airless sprayers and injection equipment
  • Wearing specialist protective equipment including coveralls and a full face mask
  • Showering in a decontamination unit at the end of each shift
  • Working on industrial sites, in shops and offices, and people’s homes.

What’s it like to be an asbestos removal operative?

Kieran McCabe


How much could you earn as an asbestos removal operative?

The expected salary for an asbestos removal operative varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained asbestos removal operatives can earn around £20,000
  • Trained asbestos removal operatives with some experience can earn £20,000 - £25,000
  • Asbestos removal supervisors can earn £25,000 - £35,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019


Jobs

Check out the latest asbestos removal operative vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As an asbestos removal operative, you could progress to a more senior role as a supervisor, team leader or manager.


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