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Highway Maintenance Worker Job Description, Career as a Highway Maintenance Worker, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training High school plus on-the-job training

Salary Median—$14.21 per hour

Employment Outlook Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Highway maintenance workers keep state, county, and city highways and roads in safe condition. They repair guardrails and snow fences; put up stop signs; paint dividing lines between traffic lanes; and fix potholes caused by weather or heavy traffic. When it snows, maintenance workers drive trucks and tractors with snowplows and blowers to clear the roads. After storms, they remove trees that have fallen across the road. Specific tasks vary with the location of the roads they maintain.

Education and Training Requirements

A high school education is preferred. A doctor's health certificate and a driver's license are often required. An applicant who wants to work in a large city or on state highways must take a civil service examination, which tests a worker's ability to read, write, and follow directions. Many small towns and cities do not give the written tests. A beginner is trained on the job by more experienced workers.

Some highway maintenance workers take courses to acquire special skills, such as tree climbing and tree cutting. Their employers may pay their tuition.

Getting the Job

Job seekers can apply directly to the town or county administrator or to the state highway commission. Civil service commissions, state employment services, school placement offices, newspaper classified ads, and job banks on the Internet are other sources of employment leads.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Highway maintenance workers can advance from the first grade of laborer to senior maintenance worker to other supervisory positions. Some workers go on to become highway inspectors.

Employment of highway maintenance workers is expected to grower faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. More new roads are being built throughout the country, requiring more maintenance workers. Job openings also occur when workers retire or leave the occupation.

Working Conditions

Highway maintenance workers need to be in good health and have physical stamina. They work outdoors in snow, sleet, rain, and summer heat. Heavy snowfall and rain often require them to work at night to clear roads for morning commuters. They work as part of a team and can enjoy the companionship of other workers.

Earnings and Benefits

In 2004 the median wage for highway maintenance workers was $14.21 per hour. They are paid with tax money, so their earnings depend on the size and wealth of the community, county, or state in which they work. Wages are highest in large cities and for specialized work.

Where to Go for More Information

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees
1625 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20036-5687
(202) 429-1000

International Brotherhood of Teamsters
25 Louisiana Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001-2198
(202) 624-6800

National Asphalt Pavement Association
5100 Forbes Blvd.
Lanham, MD 20706
(888) 468-6499

All highway maintenance workers receive health insurance, workers' compensation, and paid vacations and holidays. Many highway maintenance workers belong to unions.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw and Public Service