How Do I Become a Trash Collector?

Judith Smith Sullivan

Trash collecting is a necessary service for every society. To become a trash collector, you can either start your own business or get a job with a waste management company. Trash collecting is a large industry, covering not only residential trash and recyclables pick up but also the disposal of hazardous or toxic materials, sensitive documents, or commercial refuse.


Finding a job is probably the easiest way to become a trash collector. As an employee of a waste management company, you will have a set trash collection routine, and you will receive a salary or hourly wage. If the job is full time, you may be eligible for benefits, such as company retirement plans and health insurance.

Trash collectors work to gather trash throughout a community.
Trash collectors work to gather trash throughout a community.

You typically need a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED) to get a job as a trash collector. The daily activities of the job will also require you to be able to lift 25 to 50 pounds. You will probably spend a good deal of time outside, in all kinds of weather. You may also have to operate machinery like a trash compactor or a truck, which could require special licensure.

As with any job, to become a trash collector you need to find a job and apply. Classified advertisements found online and in newspapers are good resources for jobs postings in your area. You can also call your city government, since waste management is often conducted by city employees. Even if this is not the case, you can obtain a list of waste management companies in your area through the city's business department.

Once you have a list of trash collecting companies, call each and ask to speak to their human resources or hiring department. Ask if there are any positions available as a trash collector. If there are, ask how you can obtain a copy of the job description and application requirements. If you meet the qualifications, fill out the application and return it, along with your resume and cover letter. You will probably have to apply for several positions before you become a trash collector.

Some areas do not have well-developed waste management services. Perhaps the population has outgrown the previous system of trash collection or there are specialized needs in recycling and waste management. If this is the case, you may be able to start your own trash collection business.

You will typically need a garbage truck with a compactor or a dump truck to become a trash collector. You will also need proper licensing to operate that equipment and appropriate safety apparel, such as gloves, glasses, and sturdy shoes. You must obtain a license to operate your business in your specific area, following all the requirements of your government. Insurance for your company and your person is usually required. Transportation and disposal of hazardous or toxic materials and other specialized waste may require additional certification.

Garbage collectors often pick up recycling materials.
Garbage collectors often pick up recycling materials.

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