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.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Garbage Collectors, Trash Collectors
Duties Gather garbage and other discarded materials set out by customers for disposal; collect recyclable materials such as paper and glass for reuse
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $75,000
Work Environment Primarily 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
  • Physical Education
  • Technical/Shop
Experience On-the-job training
Personality Traits
  • Athletic
  • Hands On
  • Realistic
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements Valid commercial driver's license; at least 18 years of age; physically fit to lift heavy objects
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Garbage-Collection Supervisor or Recycling Coordinator
  • Refuse Collector-Driver
  • Refuse Collector-Garbage Loader/Unloader

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