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Career profile Refuse Collector

Also known as Front Load Trash Truck Driver, Garbage Collector, Garbage Man, Recycle Driver, Rolloff Truck Driver, Sanitation Laborer, Swamper, Trash Collector, Truck Driver

Refuse Collector

Also known as Front Load Trash Truck Driver, Garbage Collector, Garbage Man

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$23,880 - $67,530 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operation and Control
  • Speaking
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Transportation
  • Public Safety and Security
Core tasks
  • Operate automated or semi-automated hoisting devices that raise refuse bins and dump contents into openings in truck bodies.
  • Inspect trucks prior to beginning routes to ensure safe operating condition.
  • Drive trucks, following established routes, through residential streets or alleys or through business or industrial areas.
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What does a Refuse Collector do?

Refuse Collectors collect and dump refuse or recyclable materials from containers into truck.

In addition, Refuse Collectors may drive truck.

What kind of tasks does a Refuse Collector perform regularly?

Refuse Collectors are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Operate automated or semi-automated hoisting devices that raise refuse bins and dump contents into openings in truck bodies.
  • Inspect trucks prior to beginning routes to ensure safe operating condition.
  • Drive trucks, following established routes, through residential streets or alleys or through business or industrial areas.
  • Operate equipment that compresses collected refuse.
  • Dump refuse or recyclable materials at disposal sites.
  • Dismount garbage trucks to collect garbage and remount trucks to ride to the next collection point.
  • Refuel trucks or add other fluids, such as oil or brake fluid.
  • Fill out defective equipment reports.
  • Communicate with dispatchers concerning delays, unsafe sites, accidents, equipment breakdowns, or other maintenance problems.
  • Check road or weather conditions to determine how routes will be affected.
  • Clean trucks or compactor bodies after routes have been completed.
  • Tag garbage or recycling containers to inform customers of problems, such as excess garbage or inclusion of items that are not permitted.

The above responsibilities are specific to Refuse Collectors. More generally, Refuse Collectors are involved in several broader types of activities:

Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

What is a Refuse Collector salary?

The median salary for a Refuse Collector is $39,100, and the average salary is $42,620. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Refuse Collector salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Refuse Collectors earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Refuse Collectors earn less than $23,880 per year, 25% earn less than $30,180, 75% earn less than $51,530, and 90% earn less than $67,530.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Refuse Collectors is expected to change by 11.9%, and there should be roughly 21,400 open positions for Refuse Collectors every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$23,880 - $67,530
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Refuse Collectors?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Refuse Collector are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Refuse Collectors typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Refuse Collector tend to value Support, Relationships, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Refuse Collectors moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Refuse Collectors moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Refuse Collectors somewhat value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Refuse Collectors must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, self-control, and stress tolerance.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Refuse Collectors, ranked by importance:

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

What education and training do Refuse Collectors need?

Working as a Refuse Collector usually requires a high school diploma.

Refuse Collectors need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Refuse Collectors

  • 23.3% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 46.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 18.0% completed some college coursework
  • 5.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 6.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.3% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.1% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Refuse Collectors

Refuse Collectors may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, transportation, or public safety and security knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Refuse Collectors might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Important Abilities needed by Refuse Collectors

Refuse Collectors must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Refuse Collectors need abilities such as multilimb coordination, near vision, and oral comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Refuse Collectors, ranked by their relative importance.

Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

Critical Skills needed by Refuse Collectors

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Refuse Collectors frequently use skills like operation and control, speaking, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Refuse Collectors, ranked by their relative importance.

Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.