Recycling and Reclamation Workers

Recycling Workers Surrounded by Garbage

Recycling and reclamation workers sort recyclable materials such as aluminum, glass, and paper from households and businesses. They prepare these materials for recycling by identifying and removing hazardous substances. These workers may also dismantle components in recyclable appliances and other types of products. The Department of Labor (DOL) reported there were approximately 136,000 refuse and recyclable material collectors working in the United States in 2016.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) None
Duties Sort and prepare various materials and products for recycling; operate and maintain recycling equipment and machinery
Salary Range $25,000 to $75,000
Work Environment Indoors/Outdoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities are available throughout the country, but are best in large, urban areas
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
School Subjects
  • Business
  • Earth Science
  • Technical/Shop
Experience One to two years experience; on-the-job training
Personality Traits
  • Conventional
  • Hands On
  • Realistic
  • Interpersonal
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
  • Organizational
Certification or Licensing Recommended
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Recycling or Solid Waste Management Consultant
  • Recycling Coordinator
  • Supervisor, Recycling and Reclamation
  • Recycling and Reclamation Worker