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Garbage Man

Education and Training: High school diploma and commercial driver’s license
Average Salary: $35,000
Job Outlook: Good

Job Description

A garbage man or woman is perhaps more correctly called a garbage collector or sanitation worker, and is employed to collect waste along specific routes within a municipality.

A garbage collector will remove refuse from residential, commercial or industrial areas, and will empty receptacles into the truck. Once the refuse has been collected, the truck is driven to a designated depot which may be an incineration depository or a recycling plant. Anything that can be recycled is saved, and the rest is incinerated. After the refuse has been incinerated it is put into a landfill which is eventually covered over with dirt.

Anyone wishing to become a garbage man needs to be physically fit as they may need to lift heavy objects, and must like working outdoors in all kinds of weather. Garbage men frequently start work early in the mornings, so it’s essential to be comfortable with working irregular hours.

A garbage man or woman needs to be able to drive large vehicles, and they may sometimes be required to work alone without any supervision, so they must be self-motivated and able to complete their duties within a specific time limit. Jobs in this field are available in both the private and public sector.

Education and Training Requirements

A garbage collector needs to have passed their high school diploma or the equivalent, and this job also requires a commercial driver’s license. Anyone applying for a position as a garbage collector must have a clean license without any DUIs or accidents. They must be able to pass a criminal background and drug screening check. Some employers may administer their own driving exam in addition to requiring a commercial license.

Getting the Job

Garbage men are employed by private waste management firms and local councils, and the best way to find a job is to keep an eye out for wanted advertisements. These can freely be found online or in the local newspapers under the classified section. Another way of finding jobs is to join a professional association like the Solid Waste Association of North America which provides members with a number of resources.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job prospects for a garbage collector are good, and are likely to remain so, as even though we are being encouraged to produce less waste, we are all recycling more.

Working Conditions and Environment

It’s essential to love working outdoors as you will have to work outside in all weathers as people expect the refuse to be collected regularly, and you also need to not mind getting a bit dirty as garbage can frequently spill out of garbage bags. Your employer should provide you with protective equipment such as protective gloves, steel toed boots, reflective clothing, and hard hats.

Salary and Benefits

The average garbage man will make around $35,000 a year, but some union workers in the larger cities may make in excess of $80,000. Benefits will vary according to whether the garbage man is employed in the public or private sector, but it’s quite reasonable to expect paid vacations and health insurance benefits.

Where to Go for More Information

Air & Waste Management Association

National Solid Waste Association of North America
4301 Connecticut Ave., NW, Ste. 300
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 244-4700

Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)
1100 Wayne Avenue – Ste. 700
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
(80) 467-9262

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (5305P)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Additional topics

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