A Behind-The-Scenes Look at What It’s Like to Be a Trash Collector

Every week, we bring our trash out to the end of the driveway for it to be picked up by the trash collectors.

Yet, very few of us probably take the time to think about the men and women in those trash collector uniforms and what they’re job really entails.

As we know, trash collectors go from house to house to pick up people’s trash. Yet, there’s a lot more to the job than that.

What’s it really like to work as a trash collector?

Check out this behind the scenes guide to learn what it’s really like to be a trash collector.

What is a Garbage Collector? 

First things first, what exactly is a garbage collector?

A garbage collector is someone who collects the trash and either works for a private waste management company or a municipal government. Typically garbage collectors work in pairs, and in addition to picking up waste, they also picked up recycled items and yard debris from residential homes, business centers, and public parks.

Garbage collectors play a major role in keeping our cities and communities clean. If this waste were allowed to build up, it would cause major environmental and health issues.

So, next time you see a garbage collector, be sure to thank them for all of their hard work!

What Does a Garbage Collector Do? 

Due to all the heavy lifting they do throughout the day, garbage collectors need to be in pretty good shape.

In addition to lifting heavy bags of garbage, collectors also lift furniture, compost, recycled objects, and other heavy materials. When working in a pair, it’s the job of the driver to navigate through the streets to make sure everyone’s trash gets collected.

Then, it’s the other worker’s job to get out of the truck and attach the garbage containers to the lift. With recycling containers, it’s the job of the garbage collector to go through the recycling bin and remove any inappropriate contents.

Some garbage trucks also have the capacity to pick up an entire dumpster without getting out of their vehicle. To do this, they use large levers to pick up the dumpster and dump the load. The waste is then taken to the appropriate disposal center.

If you’re employed as a garbage collector for a private waste removal service or hauling service, then you’ll need to employ special handling tactics to deal with the toxic waste. Therefore, in order to get this type of job, you’ll need to undergo training in handling hazardous materials.

Workplace Environment

Garbage collectors are either employed by the city publics waste department or a private waste disposal company. You’ll either be employed to drive or to be the helper who gets the trash into the truck.

As a garbage collector, you’ll be constantly exposed to the weather elements. Whether it’s raining, snowing, or scorching, garbage collectors are required to carry out their work as usual.

Most garbage collectors work in the early hours of the morning, and in addition to interacting with their partner, some also need to occasionally interact with the public.

Personality Type of Garbage Collector 

Garbage collecting is a very unique job, and it therefore attracts very unique personality types.

To be a successful garbage collector, you should possess the following personality traits and characteristics:

  • Independent

  • Realistic

  • Athletic

  • Tactile

  • Genuine

  • Practical

  • Persistent

  • Resourceful

  • Thrifty

  • Stable

It’s also important to keep in mind that you won’t have much social interaction as a garbage collector, save for the interaction between you and your partner.

Therefore, you need to be the type of person who can work alone for long periods of time in solitude.

It’s Dangerous

Many people don’t realize this, but working as a garbage collector can actually be quite dangerous.

In fact, it’s ranked as one of the top five most dangerous jobs in America. In addition to dealing with heavy and dangerous equipment on a daily basis, garbage collectors are also exposed to many other dangerous elements including:

  • Broken glass and syringes

  • Caustic chemicals

  • Asbestos

  • Dog attacks

  • Poor weather conditions

  • Foul odors

  • Traffic accidents

  • Smoke, dust, and other fumes

  • Diseases related to solid waste

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fatal injury rate for garbage collectors is 33 per 100,000. This beats out construction workers, police offers, and even miners.

You can read more now about some of the issues you may encounter while on the job.

Interesting Statistics 

Despite the dangers of the job, garbage collecting is actually a growing profession.

In fact, the job growth rate for garbage collectors is predicted to be 13 percent through the year 2026. And, it’s expected that through 2026, close to 18,000 jobs will have opened on this industry.

And while the median salary isn’t great ($36,120), most report average levels of job satisfaction.

Working Your Way Up the Ladder 

If you stick with the profession and work your way up the ladder, you can have a very lucrative career as a garbage collector.

However, it’s important to know that you first need to pay your dues in order to succeed in this business. For the most part, people in the industry start out by working for the city, picking up trash from residential neighborhoods. First, you’ll start out as the person who collects the trash, and then once you prove yourself to be a reliable worker, you can apply or your driving license and get promoted to a driver.

From there, you can take on supervisory roles.

You may also want to consider going into the private sector, as there’s money to be made from hauling away trash and materials from private businesses.

Trash Collector: Wrap Up 

As you can see, there’s a lot more to being a trash collector than meets the eye. If you think this is the job for you, then we encourage you to look further into this profession.

And, if you liked this article, be sure to check back in with our blog for more job-related tips and tricks.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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