Refuse Collector  What They Do

Just the Facts


Collects and dumps refuse or recyclable materials from containers into truck. May drive truck.

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster Environmental Service Systems pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Operates automated or semi-automated hoisting devices that raise refuse bins and dump contents into openings in truck bodies.
  • Inspects trucks prior to beginning routes to ensure safe operating condition.
  • Drives trucks, following established routes, through residential streets or alleys or through business or industrial areas.
  • Operates equipment that compresses collected refuse.
  • Dumps refuse or recyclable materials at disposal sites.
  • Dismounts garbage trucks to collect garbage and remounts trucks to ride to the next collection point.
  • Refuels trucks or adds other fluids, such as oil or brake fluid.
  • Fills out defective equipment reports.
  • Communicates with dispatchers concerning delays, unsafe sites, accidents, equipment breakdowns, or other maintenance problems.
  • Checks road or weather conditions to determine how routes will be affected.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads of more than 50 lbs., sometimes more than 100 lbs. You must be used to very heavy physical exertion on a regular basis.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Recyclable Materials Collector --
  • Recycling Technician --
  • Scrap Metal Collector --
  • Solid Waste Collector --