Cleansing an area of a toxic legacy takes time and manpower.
The field is growing as construction uncovers environmental damage that was done decades or more than a century ago. Tacoma has its fair share of cleanups, ranging from the industrial Tideflats and the Foss Waterway, to any number of small sites that dot the landscape.
Those interested in learning about a career in environmental cleanup can attend an information session on Feb. 15 with Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region in Tacoma. The session is mandatory for those who want to continue to a free training course that provides approximately $1,500 in certifications. The training is provided through a grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The free, six-week daily course will take place at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood sometime this summer. Certifications include construction safety, asbestos remediation, a 40-hour certification for hazardous waste operators, forklift operation and confined space entry.
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For Ricardo Loza, the career shift was a good one.
Like many Americans, he was downsized from his previous career during the recession. In 2013 he saw an ad for environmental cleanup training. He was able to combine his previous experience in management and administration with his new knowledge of environmental cleanup for his current career as director of operations for the Pacific Northwest for TCB Industrial in Tacoma. The firm hires workers on a temporary basis for a variety of jobs that can change by the day. Loza said employees have decommissioned medical labs, worked on the Duwamish River cleanup and worked with contaminated soil and on construction sites.
Though his company starts temporary workers at $14 per hour, other firms pay permanent workers $18 to $20 per hour with benefits, Loza said. Companies frequently hire from his pool of temp workers for a permanent staff position, he said.
George White, spokesman for Goodwill, said cleanup careers can eventually reach a six-figure salary.
Earlier this week, Loza said he spoke to a group of a few dozen people who attended the orientation.
“Don’t give up on yourself,” Loza said Tuesday. “There are opportunities for you. Go get it.”
Orientation sessions are scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 18 and Feb. 15 at Goodwill’s Milgard Work Opportunity Center, Room 338, 714 S. 27th St., Tacoma. Those who attend the February orientation are eligible to take the six-week certification courses later this year, White said.
Those interested in attending either orientation must do so online: goodwillwa.org/training/programs/environmental-training.
The six-week program has classes every day, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at Clover Park Technical College. Each six-week program has room for 44 students.
Those interested must have a high school degree, a valid drivers’ license, be a Pierce County resident and pass a drug test, including a marijuana screening, among other requirements.
Veterans have preferred entry into the program.
For information on Goodwill’s other job training resources, view a schedule at goodwillwa.org/training.