Did you know that pay for sanitation workers is rising faster than those of many other jobs? That’s because they’re in high demand. Here are four jobs in this industry you should know about (plus the skills you need to be great at it!)

Garbage Truck Driver

The job you immediately think of when you hear waste management are garbage truck drivers. But they just don’t just drive and collect trash from the curb every day. They are the eyes and ears of the waste management company they work for. Garbage truck drivers handle customer concerns, report any dangerous conditions or service interruptions along their route, and work with their managers to make necessary improvements. They’re also responsible for maintaining their trucks and making sure the trash they collect is stored properly.

The skills you need: Class A or B CDL license, the level of physical fitness to handle the manual parts of the job, customer service skills, and a clean driving record

Landfill Operator

Even a place that houses trash like a landfill needs to be kept clean and organized. That’s the job of the landfill operator. How long a landfill stays open depends on how much space there is to hold trash and the main responsibility of this waste management worker is to make sure trash is compacted and distributed properly. These workers tell garbage truck drivers where they can deposit their loads, ensuring they aren’t bringing in hazardous materials. They even spray down garbage piles with water and pesticides to control dust and bugs. Heavy equipment like compactors, front-end loaders, bulldozers, tractors, and backhoes help them do their jobs. Maintaining the equipment they use is their responsibility.

The skills you need: Great organizational skills, the ability to work in adverse conditions, and the physical stamina to stay on your feet for long periods of time.

Garbage Truck Dispatcher

A waste management company can’t run smoothly without an excellent team of dispatchers. These workers relay important information to the different departments of the organization. Their main job is to schedule and send out garbage truck drivers as efficiently as possible, taking into account worker locations, customer needs, and other management requests. They take calls from drivers, customers, and managers. A great truck dispatcher also has to know how to prevent problems before they happen, such as readjusting routes in the event of a road closure or anticipating changes in the collection needs of current customers. They use a variety of communication tools like phones, radios, and computer programs.

The skills you need: Excellent communication and customer service skills, familiarity with computer programs, organizational skills, and the ability to troubleshoot.

Recycling and Reclamation Workers

Plastic milk jugs, wood furniture, discarded concrete, old appliances – recycling and reclamation workers are responsible for making trash like this reusable for other products. They sort materials like wood, plastic, paper, metals, and glass into their own recycling containers. They may be tasked with cleaning these materials before they’re recycled. They strip appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, and ovens down into reusable parts, including extracting chemicals like coolant. Once all of these materials are sorted, they need to be bundled or put into bales using specialized heavy equipment. Then they have to be loaded for shipment using front-end loaders, forklifts, and pallet jacks. Throughout this process, the center itself needs to be kept clean and free of debris that may fall on the floor or onto equipment like conveyor belts.

The skills you need: Attention to detail, the stamina to stand for long periods of time, ability to work without supervision, a steady hand, and good vision.


Ready to get your first job in this exciting industry? Click here to get started!

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