Highway Maintenance Worker  What They Do

Just the Facts


Maintains highways, municipal and rural roads, airport runways, and rights-of-way. Duties include patching broken or eroded pavement, repairing guard rails, highway markers, and snow fences. May also mow or clear brush from along road or plow snow from roadway.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Maintenance/Operations pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Flags motorists to warn them of obstacles or repair work ahead.
  • Sets out signs and cones around work areas to divert traffic.
  • Performs preventative maintenance on vehicles and heavy equipment.
  • Drives heavy equipment and vehicles with adjustable attachments to sweep debris from paved surfaces, mow grass and weeds, remove snow and ice, and spread salt and sand.
  • Drives trucks to transport crews and equipment to work sites.
  • Hauls and spreads sand, gravel, and clay to fill washouts and repair road shoulders.
  • Dumps, spreads, and tamps asphalt, using pneumatic tampers, to repair joints and patch broken pavement.
  • Cleans and clears debris from culverts, catch basins, drop inlets, ditches, and other drain structures.
  • Removes litter and debris from roadways, including debris from rock and mud slides.
  • Erects, installs, or repairs guardrails, road shoulders, berms, highway markers, warning signals, and highway lighting, using hand tools and power tools.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • 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.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • 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
  • 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 standing more than one-third of the time
  • Whole body vibrations, such as when operating a jackhammer

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Detecting sounds and hearing the differences between sounds of different pitch and loudness
  • 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

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Caltrans Equipment Operator --
  • Hot Oiler --