Refuse Collectors

Refuse collectors gather garbage and other discarded materials set out by customers along designated routes in urban and rural communities and transport the materials to sanitary landfills or incinerator plants for disposal. Refuse collectors may specialize in collecting certain types of material, such as recyclable glass, newsprint, or aluminum. There are approximately 116,460 refuse and recyclable materials collectors working in the United States.

Quick Facts
Duties Gather garbage and other discarded materials set out by customers for disposal; collect recyclable materials such as paper and glass for reuse
Alternate Title(s) Garbage Collectors, Trash Collectors
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $75,000
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Fair
Work Environment Primarily Outdoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities are available throughout the country, but are best in large, urban areas
Education and Training
  • High School Diploma
Related School Subjects
  • Physical Education
  • Technical/Shop
Experience On-the-job training
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
Personality Traits
  • Athletic
  • Hands On
  • Realistic
Licensure/Certification Required
Special Requirements Valid commercial driver's license; at least 18 years of age; physically fit to lift heavy objects
Career Ladder
  • Garbage-Collection Supervisor or Recycling Coordinator
  • Refuse Collector-Driver
  • Refuse Collector-Garbage Loader/Unloader

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