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.
Requirements for Demolition Experts
A high school diploma is the typical educational preparation for demolition experts, 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.
The Future for Demolition Careers
Demolition work is a small field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 6,3,00 workers were employed in this field in 2018. The projected growth for explosive demolition jobs is about average, at 7 percent through 2026. Average project job growth for all occupations is projected to also be 7 percent for the same time period. The BLS notes that only 500 new jobs can be expected in the field from 2016 to 2026, so you might need to relocate to gain the necessary experience or to find work.