Although it’s not your run-of-the mill occupation, demolition experts -- also called explosives workers, ordnance handling experts and blasters -- perform a vital service in the military and construction industry. Military ordnance can include artillery shells or explosives, while workers in the construction industry use a variety of explosive materials. Becoming a demolition expert requires both training and experience.
Personality and Other Considerations
Before you choose demolition as a career, you should have some specific abilities and personal characteristics. O*NET Online recommends you have good critical thinking skills and judgment, with the ability to make the most appropriate decision. You should be able to solve complex problems, listen well and communicate effectively. Manual dexterity and good vision are important in the field as well -- especially for close work. Hand-arm steadiness is also required in setting charges or performing other basic functions of the job. Demolition work can be high-stress, so you should be able to work under pressure.
A Hands-On Job
A high school diploma is the typical educational preparation for demolition experts, according to O*NET Online, although a few workers have a post-secondary certificate. Those who learn the trade in the military complete standard military training and then receive 39 weeks of specialized training. Typical military coursework includes demolition materials, procedures and operations, identification of munitions and training in chemical and biological ordnance, according to the U.S. Army website. State regulations regarding demolition workers vary. In New Hampshire, for example, certification is required, while Oregon does not required certification or licensing.
Skill, Care and Safety
Demolition experts outside of the military typically receive long-term on-the-job training through the apprenticeship model, according to O*NET Online. In all cases, the worker must learn the basics of selecting, preparing and using explosive charges. Blowing up an old building in a crowded downtown area might require different techniques than setting charges to clear a path for road-building. Safety is paramount -- the timing, patterns, locations and strength of explosive charges all have an effect on the potential risk of the work.
A Limited Future
Demolition work is a small field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 6,540 workers were employed in this field in 2013. The projected job growth is much less than average, at 5 percent through 2022. Average project job growth for all occupations is projected to be 11 percent for the same time period. O*NET Online notes that only 300 new jobs can be expected in the field from 2012 to 2022. You might need to relocate to gain the necessary experience or to find work.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Data for Occupations Not Covered in Detail
- O*NET Online: Summary Report for 47-5031.00 - Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, and Blasters
- U.S. Army: Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Specialist (89D)
- New Hampshire Employment Security: Explosives Worker/Blaster
- Oregon Employment Department: WIRED Occupation Report for Blasters, Explosives Workers, and Ordnance Handling Experts (47-5031) in the Oregon-Washington WIRED Region
- Controlled Demolition, Inc.: The Art of Demolition
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 47-5031 Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, and Blasters
- Photo Credit LukeSchmidt/iStock/Getty Images
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